Word of the Year: Balance

Every New Year, us humans have an innate tendency to reflect on the 365 days we survived and look ahead to the 365 to come. We can’t help it, it’s a thing we do. (And me especially. This annual tradition falls right into the lap of my navel-gazing wheelhouse.) After reflecting and checking boxes for accomplishments and contemplating tasks left incomplete, we resolve to forge ahead. Some of us wish for change. Some of us want to keep momentum going. Some of us plainly don’t give a shit.

But I do. And as I think ahead to my 36th year, I search for a path that can bring me and my family happiness and prosperity. In some years, I’ve dug my heels in with renewed tenacity, looking to pursue missed goals or creating new ones to reach. Sometimes that’s worked. Other times, it’s been a miserable failure.

This year, I’m trying a different approach.

2015 was a year of transitions: selling the house, getting laid off, moving, getting a new job, buying a new house, starting a new school for Lucas…ticking that off right now, I’m surprised I actually came out of that year alive. Whenever you reach a bend in the road, or in my case, six bends in the road, you’ve got to put on the brakes a little. But, as far as I can tell, it’s a straight shot ahead. Time to accelerate, right?

With every bone of my body, I want to say yes, let’s punch it! But something holds me back this time. I’m ready take things out of second gear (I swear I’m almost done with this car/road metaphor…bear with me), but as I do, I’m mindful of patterns in my past. I go from zero to 60, make some progress, but then run out of gas.

More time with this guy
More time with this guy

So in 2016, I need to find balance. I want to balance my dreams and the dreams of my family. Balance my work life, home life, and hobby life. Balance my health and my pleasure. In order to do that, though, something’s gotta give. Because if I keep trucking along as I have been, I’m going to go all Bilbo Baggins—butter scraped over too much bread—and I’ll come to the end of 2016 either completely wiped or obsessed with a magical ring that I stole from a scrawny goblin underneath a moun…wait a minute, no.

So how do I achieve balance? I divide my time and effort wisely. I can’t keep trying to give 100% of myself to every endeavor. Don’t get it twisted: that doesn’t mean I won’t be working hard. If I want to accomplish something, I’m going to throw my (currently considerable) weight behind it. For example, my annual “Oh God, I ate my body weight in pasta” holiday regret always turns into the cliche “Now I will make myself miserable on a New Year’s diet”—and I almost always pull it off.

But what I can’t continue to do is attempt to both laser focus in on a goal and have multiple goals. I need to reserve energy—both creative and physical—in order to play with my son, write this here blog, do something worthwhile and enjoyable (instead of just the literal definition of Netflix and chill all day ery day), kick ass at work, be a good wife and partner, and maybe do something about managing this 10-year-long crick in my back.

For once, I’m not trying to conquer the world. I’m truly lucky enough to have checked off many of the big goals of my 30s. I can thank 2015 for that. So in 2016, I’m going to focus on learning how to enjoy them and how to find happiness within myself, instead of within getting stuff done. This is the year of peace. This is the year of self-worth. This is the year I’ll find balance.

So what’s your word of the year? Or…let’s not be coy about it…New Year’s resolution?

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