My watchwords for 2013

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?


My watchwords for 2012

I’m not big on new year’s resolutions. Rather, I try to take constant stock of my life and if something needs changed I work on it right then. But as 2011 passed into 2012 I reflected on how much better my life has gotten in the past two or three years. Things have been settled post-divorce for some time now. I’ve taken up several great hobbies (this blog, for instance). I got out of debt. I have a pretty good job and I like my work. I have a nice little home and I enjoy being in it and working on it.


Yet I still find myself looking for things that are wrong and focusing on them. I spent so much time in crisis in about 2000-2006 that it became my default mode, and it’s been hard to shake it. So I’ve decided to focus on enjoying what I have in 2012, discarding useless worries about what isn’t right or perfect in my life. When 80% of my life is fine, why focus inordinately on the 20% that isn’t?

I like what Amy Parmenter wrote recently on her blog about choosing three words that represent the growth she’d like to achieve this year. (Read her three words here.) So I added two other words that I think will help me have a happier 2012.

  • Enjoy. For the reasons cited above.
  • Calm. Because I’m an anxious sort.
  • Health. Because I’m getting older and it takes intentional effort to feel as good as I used to.

What three words might you choose as your focus for 2012?