My themes for 2016

14 comments on My themes for 2016
3 minutes

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, at the beginning of each new year I think of three words that represent the growth I want to experience in the coming 12 months.

Putnam County bridges

2015’s words were gratitude, power, and realism. I focused on them as best I could until June, when I lost my job. And then I had the most remarkable summer of my adult life, one that clarified my values, which had shifted on me in middle age while I wasn’t looking.

My 2015 words were no longer relevant. I had gained a whole new perspective on my life, and I spent the autumn exploring what that meant. I discovered that I don’t want to bear down so hard on myself anymore, as if there’s something elementally lacking, something fundamentally wrong in me that needs to be better. I finally see that I’m basically fine just as I am. From here on out, I’d rather enter my days peacefully and enjoy them for what they are, whatever they are.

And so I’m not even sure I need this annual exercise anymore. But it’s been so helpful in the past that I’m going to try it one more year and see how it goes.

Serenity — This kind of serenity, the kind where you accept life for what it is (emphasis mine):

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Presence — As part of that acceptance, I want to be fully present in whatever situation I find myself in. Not blocking it out, not denying its reality, not kicking up a storm trying to change what is is beyond my control. If I’m in a traffic jam, I want to just calmly let it be and wait for it to clear. If I’m in a bad job, I want to peacefully go to work each day and do the best work I can until I can find a better job.

Goalless — All I mean here is that I want to stop chasing after things, stop striving so hard. I don’t mean to drift aimlessly. But instead of constantly trying to shape my life and world to be exactly how I think they should be, I will point myself in directions that seem right or interesting and work diligently at whatever I find myself doing, but then let life unfold as it will. And then I will see what life has brought, and if needed, alter my direction. Moni Smith wrote a great post about just this idea recently; please go read it.

I’m not checking out on life. I’m just launching a rest-of-my-life initiative to not create my own stress anymore. Life brings enough of that on its own.


14 responses to “My themes for 2016”

  1. Sunith Avatar

    Great thoughts..keep going and have a great Year ahead…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Sunith!

  2. hmunro Avatar

    Thank you for another wonderful New Year’s meditation, Jim … I continue to learn so much from you. All my best to you and yours in 2016!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for making me smile, Heather!

  3. George Denzinger Avatar
    George Denzinger

    I had a similar epiphany a few years ago. Without a complete narrative of what happened to me, I spent several years very angry with God and myself. I later came to the realization that what had happened to me was of my own doing; and that it was up to me to fix my own problems. For me, that was serenity.

    These days, I try to live like the man my dog thinks I am…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s an important realization I think most of us have to come to. And yeah, being who our dog thinks we are is always a good goal.

  4. Moni Avatar

    Thank you, sir! :D I am feeling like I have similar views on the upcoming year as well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Excellent! Maybe at the end of 2016 we can compare notes through our blogs on how we did.

      1. Moni Avatar

        Great idea!

  5. Joe Avatar

    I like your way of thinking Jim. We could all use less self-made stress in our lives. Hope you and your family have a wonderful new year.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Joe! Best to you as well in 2016.

  6. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Excellent things to work on this year. And a very good way to go about thinking about a new year. These would not be bad suggestions for my own life.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Jim! Glad you found this useful.

  7. […] anyway, this is what I am looking at as i go into the next year. I like Jim Grey‘s (from Down The Road) way of looking at the new year too and I am going to think about the […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: