My watchwords for 2013

21 comments on My watchwords for 2013
2 minutes

Last year, using an idea from blogger Amy Parmenter, I chose three words that represented the growth I wanted to achieve in 2012. They were enjoy, reminding me to focus on the 80% of my life that was good; calm, because I’m naturally anxious and wanted to cultivate more inner peace; and health, because in my middle age feeling good doesn’t come automatically anymore.

I used these themes day to day as I made decisions in 2012. I deliberately made more time to visit with friends and family, even if it meant long car trips, because I so enjoy their company. I deliberately took up (and wish I’d kept up with) meditation and yoga to cultivate a calm mind. I deliberately visited my doctor more to deal with a niggling health issue, which has led to reduced symptoms and better functioning.

Blow-up dolphins

Keeping to these themes led to 2012’s brightest spots! So I knew I’d want to choose new watchwords to guide me in 2013. I started thinking about it at Thanksgiving, and by Christmas my new themes were set. They are:

  • Joy – I want to cultivate greater joy in my life. I think this will have two components: finding it in the good things already present, and looking to add good things that will bring more of it. I have found that I find joy most readily when I am with people I love and when I am exploring and learning.
  • Freedom – While I will consider this theme broadly in 2013, it made this list because of my work situation. In early 2011, a larger company bought us. The company has become less and less a fit for me since then. There have been periods of crushing stress where, frankly, I wanted to simply walk away, but couldn’t afford to. I have good skills and know plenty of people in my line of work in my city, so in due time I can always find a different job. What I want now is to have enough money in the bank that I can always live for a few months with no income if need be, and to live well below my means so that I can take a job that pays less if it means I will be happier.
  • Courage – I have never lived my life to value joy and freedom. It will take courage for me to keep choosing them this year, and not retreat into old patterns of behavior.

What three words might you choose as your focus for 2013?


21 responses to “My watchwords for 2013”

  1. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Courage is a big one for me. I might have to copy your New Year words. It’s the nagging mom fear that gets the best of me. I definitely want to breath a little more this year, let go, and I’ll definitely need some moments of bravery to do so!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad fear lately, the things I’m afraid of, where they come from, and how if I could let them go I’d be both a better dad and just more relaxed in general. So I feel you. Good luck!

  2. hmunro Avatar

    Wonderful post! Thank you for this wonderful, affirmative alternative to the usual New Year’s resolutions. I wish you much joy, freedom and courage in the year ahead.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks Heather!

  3. Fitwellmom Avatar

    Just came across your blog and loved your post! Your words are great. I had come up with more of a list, with joy and bravery on it. I also added patience, and paying attention among other things. Thanks for sharing and all the best in the New Year!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thank you! I like three items because my swiss-cheese brain can’t keep track of more than that, but the average person can juggle up to seven items, so you should be good!

  4. Jennifer S Avatar

    This is a good list. I might adopt these three myself… particularly courage. Although I know the best changes in my life have come from taking risks, it remains really, really hard. I’m typically paralyzed with fear… I won’t be good enough, it’s too much for me to handle, the changes wouldn’t be good for the family. It’s time to handle this insecurity… one day at a time. Very inspiring choices, Jim! I know you’ll have a great 2013.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I think all but a tiny percentage of us let fear guide us most of the time. And the chorus of fearful and critical voices in our heads can be our worst enemy.

  5. Joe Cardillo Avatar

    Great list Jim, I did something like this in December and it overlaps a bit with yours:

    “With joy” – Basically a phrase I repeat to remind myself that anything in my life can be done with joy.

    “Create” – Similar to what you had under your entry for joy about exploring and learning. I am happiest when I am being creative, whether that’s blogging, writing/playing a new song, talking through ideas with a friend, etc…

    “Practicing Compassion” – I had a hard couple of years, so in 2012 I worked to be more compassionate/forgiving of myself. In 2013 I’d like to continue that and also practice being more compassionate to those around me too.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Great list, Joe. I hope it guides you to a peaceful and satisfying 2013.

  6. Dani Avatar


    1. Jim Avatar

      Excellent! Now let these be signposts for you every day, and they will start to happen for you.

  7. Laura T. Avatar
    Laura T.

    Hmmm… this made me think. Not an easy thing after two 4 day weekends and too much food. But it is an excellent idea. I had a lot of time to ponder as I was stuck in the Lincoln tunnel. And I came up with these:

    Focus: I find that I’ve been drifting through my life in the last couple years, not participating as much and just sort of letting life happen to me. I need to focus more on several areas. Work, for one, the lack of focus has been detrimental to my work in general. I still have my moments of joy when I actually figure out an issue, but they seem fewer and further between. Focus on my physical self is another need. The dabbling in Feldenkrais has shown me that I need to be more conscious of my body and the way I move and how each movement affects my body as a whole. Hopefully with this focus I will be able to bring back movement to parts of my body that I’ve been dragging. Those two will do for a start, but a general all around focus is needed.

    Release: I need to let go of so many things, physical and spiritual. I need to release the stress that I carry with me constantly, the feeling that if I stop for a moment my world will collapse in on me. I need to release the anger that I’ve been carrying around for so long regarding my accident, anger at myself, anger at the situation I’ve ended up in and anger at other people.

    Grateful: I need to be more grateful for the things and people that I do have in my life rather than worrying and bitching about the things that I think I’m missing.

    Yes, I think those will do rather nicely.

    Thank you Jim!

    Much love to you my friend,


    1. Jim Avatar

      Laura, after your accident I can well imagine that it takes a lot of time to recover — and I mean emotionally/mentally more than physically. That kind of trauma isn’t easily shaken off. I hope you’re not beating yourself up for being where you are! I love your three words. Remind yourself of them often; size them up against every decision and let them point the way.

  8. ryoko861 Avatar

    Courage, Freedom, Happiness/Inner Peace though I doubt any of it will come to fruition.
    I wish you the best with your goals.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Irene, they won’t if you don’t use them. If you keep them in mind and let them guide you at every decision point, they will start to happen for you. Slowly, I’m sure, but they will start.

      1. ryoko861 Avatar

        I like instant gratification though. ;-) Seriously, I will keep this in mind.

  9. pesoto74 Avatar

    Lots of good ideas here. I do believe that it is possible to reprogram our brains. I think this year I am going to focus on being more grateful and optimistic. I know I tend often tend to see problems or the worst outcome first rather than think about how things can work out well. Hope you have a wonderful new year and I look forward to reading what you come up with this year.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks Ted! Gratitude and optimism are great areas of focus.

  10. Carla Smith Avatar
    Carla Smith

    What a great idea! I may have to “steal” this idea as well. I already made the resolution to have more fun in my life this year. I spend far too much time working…and I need to make sure that I balance that with fun activities too. I like the three that you have selected for this year.

    1. Jim Avatar

      This seems so much more doable than resolutions. You just trot out your words at major decision points and let them help guide your choices. Fun is a good focus!!

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