WOTY – Time and Perspective

 

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two days before Christmas, can I be any luckier?
Every year for the past few, I’ve participated in Word of the Year and picked one word to focus on for a whole year. It’s like writing out a whole list of new year’s resolutions and then picking one word that best describes the characteristic needed to complete all of them. Or, maybe it’s like realizing I’ll never successfully complete all or even any resolutions, that maybe I don’t really need to, and settling for one area of general discontent to spend a little extra time and attention.

Time was my WOTY last year. I chose it originally because I got tired of looking up and noticing entire seasons had come and gone without fanfare. I was tired of losing time or feeling like I wasn’t doing very much with it. I already knew that it mattered how I spent my time and that making smarter choices consistently was key, and I figured a word like TIME hovering over me like a prison warden might help me get there. What I found was I’m still really good at ignoring things.

I didn’t think about Time much in 2016. Or so I thought. I remember thinking throughout the year that Patience, my WOTY for 2015, had been a better fit. It was gentler, definitely, less demanding and more comforting. Time demanded that I do things while Patience let me sit and rest and just think about things. Because I have a tenuous relationship with authority, I ignored the assumed demands of a word like Time and went about the year. A few times I looked up and noticed the season in progress maybe wasn’t going by quite as fast as usual, but that was about it. I was pretty sure I picked a dud WOTY.

Then December came and Mished Up wrote about her experience with her WOTY and reminded me that some years our words do more work behind the scenes.

She wrote this about her own WOTY:

It hasn’t been the most satisfactory word. I haven’t felt it working the way I have tended to feel other words.  That said, that’s not really  unusual.  Sometimes I  only see how the word worked in hindsight, as I write my year end wrap up.

That’s when I realized that’s exactly how Time felt for me.

When I wrote about spending my time more wisely one year ago, I listed a few examples. I wrote that I could read irritating status updates or a good book. I could eat junk or go for something greener. I could get out for a walk or sit and do nothing. I could keep falling down the same rabbit holes or spend face to face time with the people I love.

I can’t claim victory on all fronts. If I’d numbered and listed these things, they’d look an awful lot like new year’s resolutions, right? But I can see in hindsight that I did read an awful lot this year. I ate a lot of junk, yes, but also a lot of green and savored it more than ever. I definitely went out for a lot of walks and got back to regular runs. I spent quality time with the people I love and that, in turn, may have actually slowed down the passage of time. A second still lasts a second, but I have few regrets about how I spent mine in 2016.

The biggest change I noticed in the last year is that I no longer white knuckle through big but stressful events. Even if it was something I’d been looking forward to, like a birthday party or holiday, usually I just wanted it over and done with so I could get back to normal. Then when Thanksgiving was about a week away, I realized I was looking forward to all the preparation and cooking and visiting with family. This helped my attitude going in, for sure. When Christmas was about a week away, and even thought I wasn’t finished shopping, wrapping and baking, I realized I was really going to miss it. That hasn’t happened since I was a kid.

Now it’s time to pick a new WOTY for 2017. As with the last couple years, a month ago I wasn’t sure I’d do it again. I felt like I’d failed it and myself until I saw the ways it worked me. Patience reminded me to stop watching the clock and comparing myself to others. Time forced me to at least sometimes make it count through my actions and attention. This year I’m leaning towards Perspective because it feels like a natural extension, though I’m still not 100% it’s the right word for 2017 (another hallmark in the process of picking a WOTY).

When I say Perspective, I also mean Attitude. Two people can have the same set of circumstances and yet view them very differently. They can work the same job and have the same resources and support systems in place, and one can grumble and groan while the other kisses the ground in gratitude. I don’t guess I need to say which person I’d rather be, but most of the time I feel like the grumbler and don’t want to anymore. My hope in choosing a word like Perspective is that I’ll feel gentle reminders throughout the year that how I view something is a kind of choice and sometimes I need to work at it.

Likewise, gratitude will not always be an appropriate response. Perspective will hopefully allow space to look at situations more clearly and determine if I need to or can make certain changes instead of accepting the status quo. So I’m pretty excited about the potential for a word like Perspective.

Best wishes to anyone reading for a healthy, happy 2017. I’ve gained so much from reading posts and comments, so I want to close out the year by thanking you for reading and writing. It makes all the difference.

 

 

 

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52 thoughts on “WOTY – Time and Perspective

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  1. I love your description of how you ignore things and the subtle connection to bucking authority…I feel like you could have written that about me.
    This year my word was “Authenticity”…over this year I have begun to grow into my sober-identity but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near done with it. I probably need to make it my word-of-the-decade.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us here and Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Authenticity is a great word, agreed we could work on it for at least a decade. As for bucking authority, maybe we do know best some or even most of the time. But I am starting to take advice and even listen for it. It all feels like part of the slow, steady process of being sober.

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    1. You too, Ross. Your book was one of my absolute favorites this year. I plan to leave glowing review on goodreads and amazon. Each chapter felt beautifully crafted with well developed, lovable characters, clever backstory, and believable plot. I kept thinking “I know the guy who wrote this!” You have a real gift.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very kind of you to say. I thought a lot about perspective in the last few months and how it can make us weep with gratitude or misery. It will be interesting to see how it feels in another year.

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    1. Yes! I can’t wait to read your wrap up post, Joanne. I like the WOTY because it’s so simple and easy, like a one-word mantra that works us more than the other way around. Happy new year!

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  2. Perspective…great word!
    But then any word is a great word, or has the potential to be, right?
    I love these wrap ups…love to see how odds worked others, how they surprise us and challenge us and turn our expectations upside down.
    Happy new year to you too!
    I keep hearing Bette Davis in my mind, saying “it’s going to be a bumpy ride”…
    I guess that will maybe be all in our perspectives.
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bette’s words seem apt, and I wonder at how much control we have over our own perspective. Is it too much like optimism versus pessimism/realism, which feels more hardwired. I didn’t want to have to continue with what feels like work with a word like Time, but it did make a difference. It takes me back to the first time I heard ‘do the next right thing’ at a meeting and it became an anchor.

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      1. yes, do the next right thing…one moment and step at a time.
        That has been in my mind too, as you’ll see when i publish (if I ever write! lol) my word for 2017.

        I don’t know how much control we have over what is hardwired in, but i do believe we always have a choice, and time and a little reflection can often change our perspective. I think the hard work is in making the choices we need to in order to shift.

        Happy New Year (I’m hoping that can be MY perspective on it!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It was your WOTY post last year that brought me to your blog. A few weeks ago, I realized that I had forgotten the WOTY I selected for myself in response to your post. I looked back now and saw that I selected Grace. I’m not sure I was very good at implementing that word. Far too many stressors that got worse and prevented me from walking lightly through the world with grace and forgiveness.

    So, now you’ve done it again. A new WOTY for 2017 and I’m thinking about it for myself. I like Perspective. As you say, it doesn’t always require gratitude. It can allow for anger as well. 😉

    But its your word, at least tentatively for now.

    All I could think of as I read this post was … Better. So, that’s my word for 2017. Better. Whatever it is I’m doing, I’m going to try to be better about it. Of course, this kind of defines my constant struggle and why I end up frequently disillusioned about my own efforts. So, maybe where I need to start is being better about my own expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always have woty envy when I hear someone else’s. Better immediately made me think how you could direct that at yourself. Like, taking better care of yourself, treating yourself better, etc. In my experience, where you start with a word isn’t where you wind up a year later.

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      1. It’s all those things and more. Responding better to the stresses. Responding better to the people around me. It’s a word that is very broad in its scope. But it certainly encapsulates being better to myself as well. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, this time, I’ll remember my word throughout the year. 😉

        Happy New Year to you.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I really have enjoyed picking a word, probably because it is such a simple, low-key process. Maybe I don’t even think of the word much throughout the year, and yet I always get something out of it. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like Attitude better than Perspective, if I were to choose — feels more active somehow. The photo is terrific, it makes me sentimental for the country routes I’d take north of 22 between 145 and 100, through those small PA Dutch towns, with the big sky and lots of rolling farms. Good stuff. Keep sharpening that eye of yours Kristen, it’s good. To perspective, in ’17, and the mind’s eye. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ll see this quote very soon, but thought it fit your post so well:

    “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

    Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

    ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

    I think you’d really enjoy The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. One of the basic fundamentals of Stoicism is recognizing what we can control, and what we cannot. We can always control our perspective, how we choose to look/see/view/perceive the world around us; very rarely (if ever) can we control external events.

    The book is available on Amazon–Michelle and I are both reading it–but they also have a website you may like.
    http://dailystoic.com

    Happy new year, Kristen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Popping in here to echo Christy’s comment on The Daily Stoic. Other than running and bathing, I’m terrible at daily habits. THIS morning ritual with Stoic is sticking. Your word perspective fits nicely with their philosophies.
      Okay – buh bye! Off to find my own comment box 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Perspective seems an exceptionally appropriate word in the coming year. In the US we have become so incredibly polarized that the loss of viewing a position from multiple perspectives seems a lost art. Good choice, for that and many reasons – look forward to seeing how this floats through your excellent writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, the election probably had a lot to do with that word choice. It’s a choice to seek out that which makes me feel worse or go to the things that fill me up. Thanks for your comment and for reading, Robert.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading your 2016 review as well as the process to find your 2017 word.
    Time is a bitch for most of us. I even kept a 5-day “time” journal a few weeks ago just to objectively see where I spent it – laundry and e-mail topped the list. What a legacy, right? My favorite part of your review was your note on few regrets with how you spent it – that’s my goal, too.
    As for perspective…what a powerful word and mission. To continue with the Stoic theme, I found this from Marcus Aurelius “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” This one, too ” The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” So, so, so many more. Thank you for sharing your word with us – I am inspired!! Xoxox

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Happy New Years Kristen!

    That’s awesome that you no longer white knuckle those nervous events. I’m working on it.

    I also really appreciate that gratitude can always be the word of the year. Call it the word of our lifetime? It always saves me.

    Wishing you and yours a great 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy New Year, Kristen!
    Thank you for your support!! It means a lot to me!
    I also noticed I didn’t have to white knuckle it through this long holiday season.
    I am trying to think of my WOTY.
    I just get stuck on a “good ” one.
    YIKES!
    Maybe YIKES should be mine!
    I like your new word, and I wish you a wonderful day!
    xo
    wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great word! I have heard alcoholism described as the disease of perception…but I think that it can apply to any emotional and/or mental state – booze hound or not. When I listen to any preacher, motivational speaker, spiritual guru or whatnot, they will talk about perception at one point or another. It’s the stories we carry in our mind, the outlook we take on others or the playbook we use in life. When we change our minds, we change our attitudes. There is no doubt. You describe it well, and I think that people don’t realize that it’s the internal shift which makes the biggest difference.

    Anyways, love the post! I have been reading a few of the WOTY posts and forgot how much I love them!

    Happy New Year!

    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

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