Happy New Year! How I'm Going to Make 2012 Rock

Even Philadelphia, with all the hustle
and bustle, can be beautiful in winter. (2010)
Well, here it is, another New Year's Eve eve. Time for resolutions right? Maybe not. Early on in my career, I learned the importance of setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound, or some variation.) I used to apply the same principles to New Years resolutions. A resolution to climb more would yield questions like, "how many days?", "what kind of climbing?", and "at what grade?" Those details can help you actually accomplish your goals, but like last year, many of the things I want to accomplish this year can't be measured, and many of them fit into categories.

So, instead of making resolutions this year, I decided to write phrases of action and redefine goal setting. Getting goals on paper is easy, but I'm more motivated by doing. The generally accepted SMART acronym is restrictive, though sometimes necessarily so. But for my purposes, SMART will stand for simple, meaningful, ambitious, reflective and thoughtful. Hopefully, these phrases of action will be ways for me to make 2012 an amazing year.

Remember what's important. My grandmother, who was an incredible fixture in my life, passed away this fall. After talking more to my mother about who Grandma was and what she valued, it became obvious that one of the traits we both admired about her was the fact that she loved unconditionally. Truly unconditionally. She didn't judge, she didn't hold grudges and she cherished the people around her. My mother is the perfect confidant, my role model, and beautiful soul. Along with Grandma, she taught me a very important lesson this fall: don't just love unconditionally; don't leave space in your life for anger or resentment. It's exhausting, and those bad feelings take up space that could be better filled with other feelings. This phrase of action will remind me to let go of bad feelings, and to make more room for good ones.

I'm terrified in this photo. I need to terrify myself
more often. (D. Herscovitch)
Take more risks. Though cliche, this is my #1 phrase of action for this upcoming year. To an extent, I believe we all enjoy some type of constant in life. Whether it's having a home base when you're always on the road, feeling secure in your job or choosing a climbing route you know you can do over a challenging one, we all seek some sort of comfort. No one wants to fail, but without taking risks, trying something new and testing our limits, we'll miss the opportunity to see how far we can go. This phrase of action will remind me to keep pushing, even if it's uncomfortable, and even if I fail. 

Stay in touch. One of my good friends here in Philadelphia calls me "an introvert with extrovert tendencies." When she came up with that description of me, I was floored. It's perfect. Being an introvert doesn't mean I cower in a corner, hate people, prefer not to talk and would rather be alone. It means I adore engaging with people, adore social experiences, and love deep conversations about ideas and opinions. It means I'm more serious than silly, but can be one of the silliest people I know. What it also means is that I very much value my alone time, my quiet "Katie time," and need that time to recharge my batteries. Sometimes, that need results in my not doing a great job of reaching out to special people I don't reach out to enough. In 2012, I'll take care of my introverted self while also being sure that care doesn't keep me from quality time with the people I love.

In the crater on Mount Rainier with some of
the most amazing women I know. (T. Royal)
Pay attention. It's hard to stay focused with all of the hustle and bustle, but I never want to feel as though I'm letting it all prevent me from seeing what's going on around me. This phrase of action requires me to be a more frequent active listener and an active participant. I'll stop taking a camera on every outdoor adventure and focus on taking in as much of the experience as possible. I'll stop worrying about whatever else is going on in my head and work to focus on one thing at a time, one conversation at a time. I'll spend more time looking around on my walks to work and less time complaining to myself about the garbage in the street, the cars, the noise, and everything that normally keeps me from really seeing the world around me.

Stay inspired. This one goes hand in hand with the previous phrase of action. To me, being inspired means having a zest for life as a result of things you see, activities you participate in, even living vicariously through others doing amazing things. We all have people in our lives who inspire us. For example, by paying more attention to the world around me, I'll see things I might not have noticed. But I also know I can count on photographer friends like Patrick Gensel and Peter West Carey to capture beautiful moments I can look at and be inspired by. I love playing outside, but also love hearing about friends from the climbing gym making progress, or friends trying ice climbing for the first time. One of my new Crossfit Love friends isn't just a hard worker in the gym, she's also an amazing artist and paleo dessert baker extraordinaire. I know some incredibly talented people. This phrase of action will remind me that, even on the occasional bad day, there are so many places for me to draw inspiration from.

Do you have New Years resolutions, or your own phrases of action? I'd love to hear them, and would love help continuing to define my own.


Susan DeBruin said…
First, I love how you recognize that in order for resolutions to be truly effective they need to be measurable, achievable, and time bound. I'm a geek about New Years Resolutions, so I get mildly perturbed when folks say, "my resolution is to lose weight" - that's it - and then they feel like it's the New Year's Resolutions fault when they don't 'succeed.'

Second, while still acknowledging what I wrote in paragraph #1, I LOVE your action phrases! They are genuine and heartfelt, and they all resonate with me. Keep them all - and maybe choose one goal or 'action' that will represent success for that resolution. Maybe you will only achieve 70% of them - but really, if you were to have 100% success with your resolutions, then they were probably too easy for you. The "take more risks" action is the one I can immediate think of a goal for - pick out a climb that makes you feel a little uncomfortable and then do it!

Okay. I'm taking over your comment section, so I'll stop now. I really love NYR's, LOL. Good luck with yours!
k8tlevy said…
Susan, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment! You're spot on in the first paragraph; setting goals with specific details is important, and I like your idea in the second paragraph, too. I'll definitely think hard about the risk taking piece in work, climbing and everyday life. That one really applies to everything!

I didn't want to set too many specific targets because for me, that detracted from the introspective process of figuring out what I really wanted to achieve this year. But your ideas are great.

Do you have resolutions set yet?