As I mentioned last week, I’m working on a Happiness Project. Part of my project–a big, overarching part–is having a theme for the year. This is a useful strategy for me because of how it allows me to connect a bunch of disparate-seeming goals and ideas together. Instead of saying “This year, I’m going to exercise more AND apply to grad school AND volunteer AND clear out my closet AND….”, I can remind myself of what the big idea is. For someone who too readily gets caught up in the pettifogging minutiae of everyday life, it’s an important opportunity to remind myself that there is a forest here, not just trees.
For me, the theme for the year is…ONWARD!
Onward encapsulates a lot of what I’m hoping to achieve this year. As some of you know, I turned 25 recently, and apart from getting a discount on my car insurance premiums (yes!), this prompted a certain amount of angsty reflection about where I am in my life and what I’m doing. What I realized was that I felt stuck. Stuck at work, stuck in my city, stuck in habits that were sort of pleasant, but didn’t really feel good. I needed to get out of my rut, and head towards new experiences and bigger goals. I needed to get my ambition back.
It’s also a word that has a lot of emotional resonance for me. My favorite podcast (Happier with Gretchen Rubin) always ends with the phrase “Onward and upward!” Those are also some of the final lines in CS Lewis’ The Last Battle, part of one of my favorite children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Growing up in the LDS church, one of my favorite hymns–a good, stout marching number entitled “Called to Serve“–repeated the lines “Onward, ever onward”.
For me, it’s a call to action: to get unstuck, to think big, to get outside of myself.
Now, a yearly theme is all very well and good, but it can be easy to lose perspective. That is why each month, I’ll be choosing a mini-theme that has several resolutions attached to it. For that month, I’ll try to focus on those resolutions, all of which will tie back to this main idea. Whether it’s working on my applications for grad school, or pondering needful things, or even reading about disasters, the idea is to keep working away at the big picture…and hopefully taking time to enjoy the view along the way.