One of the fun, semi-motivational activities a few individuals from my circle of friends have adopted is the practice of choosing a theme for each year. While relatively simple, the act of theming one’s year brings about the opportunity to focus clearly and concisely upon the greater scope and outcome one wishes to achieve. It is a way of effectively condensing all of the New Years resolutions we’ve presumably just made for ourselves, along with our hopes, dreams, and disappointments from last year into one neat, inspirational way to gauge our path for the next 365 or so odd days. Yearly themes are generally limited to just one word, or a short phrase, and embody the overall experience you wish to enjoy during a given year. For example, if 2016 was rather unremarkable in your books, and you’re looking to spice things up, your theme for 2017 might be something along the lines of Adventure or Living Fearlessly.
In 2016, I set out with a theme of my own. Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly official about it, didn’t write it down, and rather promptly forgot it. And, as luck would have it, my 2016 took a rather sudden, unexpected twist early in the 2nd quarter that left me reeling — far flung from all of the initial goals and intentions I had for the year. Thus, my theme was re-written, a handful of times, as the months twisted and turned, surprising me with each new horizon.
The unpredictable course of my experiences in 2016 brings to light a rather noteworthy consideration in the realm of themes and resolutions: the importance of fluidity. Or, as I learned to say, “learning to pivot.”
It is with the best intentions that so many of us set out each year, ready to sculpt ourselves into further refined versions of the idealized creatures we imagine ourselves becoming. The practice of introspection, so often neglected throughout the rest of the year, becomes inherent in the passing days prior to the start of the New Year. In the midst of that year end flurry — those poetically peaceful, yet cheerfully bustling holiday hours — we often catch sight of our potential, born of clarity from facing our failings in the past.
But when resolutions fail, or years unfold in ways that include greater trials than expected, perhaps our greatest asset is our ability to practice perseverance.
For many of my friends and family members, 2016 was a trying year. It was marked with hardship, unexpected hiccups, and reasons to mourn or face despair. No doubt, you and yours have faced the same. However, 2016 was also a year packed with growth, silver linings, and unexpected blessings. It became a year of constant reminders that even in the bleakest moments, gratitude often gives birth to gifts, and that waking up to face difficulties (financial, emotional, physical, or otherwise) with a sense of hope and purpose, builds a deeper strength than one realizes — until you take the time to reflect on years passed.
So, while the variety of different themes I tried on at the beginning of 2016 didn’t stick, I’m not counting the theming exercise as a loss. Rather, it seems 2016 simply made room for the only theme that would truly fit — one that wouldn’t become clear without the gift of hindsight. For all of her stretching, her pushing, her creaking, and her discomfort, 2016 taught us so beautifully the Power of Perseverance. All that remains is deciding how we’ll take that gift forward into 2017. And while I don’t yet have a proper theme laid out for the year to come, I know that 2016 has left me better prepared for it, as I set out to explore, inspire, and learn to make a home in my heart built to persevere.
Author’s Note: The original posting of this piece can be found on Sensorymag.com in the Coffee and Contemplation section. Sensory is a travel based online and print publication where we serve up a veritable buffet for your senses. Jen and her crew bring you local flavor and artistic inspiration on a global scale. (Pardon our dust if you visit today — keep checking back, good things are soon to come!)