Is anyone else finding it tough to get into the swing of 2018? It's already the end of January and I don't really feel like I've got to grips with this year yet. I haven't made any resolutions, set any firm intentions, made definite plans, nor have I got my eye on specific goals that I want to achieve.
But I think that's OK sometimes, to go with the flow for a while before we find the pace and route that feels good to follow. That's not to say that I've not been doing anything at all over the last few weeks, on the contrary, it's been good for me to rest more and recharge, and I've been doing plenty of thinking, questioning, and pondering - not much of which has yet yielded answers.
One thing that I have been working on though, in common with previous years, is choosing or being guided to a word or words to be a focus and anchor for the year. Feelings or intentions that I want to call in over the coming months, or values that I can hold onto when faces with decisions.
For the last few years I've used Susannah Conway's Find Your Word free email series to work through a series of prompts and exercises in order to home in on one word to be my guide for the year. This year however, I also included Danielle LaPorte's The Desire Map in my process, and this has resulted in a shortlist of what she calls 'Core Desired Feelings' - the emotions that lie beneath the goals we set, and are really how we want to feel in our lives every day.
I had actually picked up the book a couple of years ago but abandoned it halfway, so looking at it again now was an interesting exercise. The first half of the book is an extended exploration of what Core Desired Feelings are, how LaPorte developed the mapping process for identifying them, and the kinds of pitfalls we might come across when beginning to work with them. I've got to be honest, I struggled with some of this, there are parts that really didn't resonate for me, but in staying open I did find a few nuggets that made sense.
The second part is the workbook, and here there are a number of activities to try, questions to answer, and to me at least, a sense of repeating the same thing over and over again in order to drill down to the fundamentals. Again, full honesty, I haven't finished the book. I met a block of resistance when it came to applying the desired feelings I've identified to particular goals, which probably indicates more inner work to do, and it may be that I come back to this section of the exercises at a later point.
This year I struggled to choose just one single word by following Susannah Conway's guidance, but by combining her approach with some of the activities in The Desire Map, I have come up with a small group of words that chime with the personal definitions for how I want to feel.
This really almost goes without saying. Creativity is a major driving force for me, and pulls together elements of authentic self-expression, play and exploration, as well as all of the knowledge and experiences I gather and absorb from the world around me, and how I integrate them into who I am and what I do. So I suppose really this is more of an innate quality that I want to tap into, rather than something I hope to attract.
I want to feel that there are always questions to be asked, new things to learn, new experiences to be had, and to meet them openly with a sense of wonder.
This one is a biggie. In fact, it probably could have been my one word, but the others felt too important, and linked, to leave out. My definition of confident is the one derived from the Latin origin of the word - with trust in oneself. That kind of confidence is definitely something I want to cultivate this year, to counteract some of the fears and worries that have been building and holding me back from taking steps forward. It's also about believing that who I am, as well as what I have to offer, has value; and finding courage to share my story and my opinions, to stand up and take my space, knowing that I am good enough.
This one is about feeling that all of the parts of me are joined together, united, with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Accepting that the bad times and experiences and memories are as much a part of my story and have contributed to the person I am as the joys and successes. It's also a reminder to connect with my physical body, not just being caught in my head and cycles of overthinking, with my emotions and not being afraid to feel the whole range, and my intuition and the inner sense of knowing my own answers. There is a flip side however, as this year I also want connected to guide me in my interactions with others, in strengthening relationships, growing friendships, and allowing myself to feel more comfortable among other people (a tricky thing for this dedicated introvert!) and becoming part of a community.
This one probably strikes you as a bit odd. How do you feel rainbow? Well, if you look at a rainbow as a multi-coloured spectrum that is revealed when light is divided into its constituent frequencies, I'm just taking this further and applying the scientific definition to the metaphysical. In a way, this is word is more about providing a visual reference for my other words - the sense of a unified whole made up of a multitude of parts, all beautiful in their own way, varied and sometimes apparently contradictory or opposing, but all vital to the fullness of experience. So rainbow is about vibrancy, about engaging with all the colours and flavours and senses and possibilities, and about recognising the beauty of the whole package - of life, and of me.
So there we have it, words to guide me through this year, and desired feelings to anchor my choices and decisions. I still have work to do to make sure I remember them in the months ahead, and recognise when they are nudging me in a certain direction. It helps that the first four - creative, curious, confident and connected - are linked by their initial letter, it serves as a mental link, and that rainbow is so easily associated with visual imagery, but I may look at other ways to keep these words at the forefront of my mind, such as creating a vision board, writing them down in key places, investing in a special piece of jewellery, or using them as mantras for meditation.
Now I'd love to hear from you - do you have a guiding word for this year, or a group of core desired feelings? Perhaps a vision or mantra you're working towards? And if so, how do you work with them, what helps you remember them? Please leave a comment, or send me a message as I'd love to chat more about this!