As I reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one, I like to choose a word for the year. Last year, I declared that my word for 2019 would be ABUNDANCE. I said:
Abundant health. Abundant love and friendship. Abundant wealth and financial security. Abundant time. Basically, I want to approach life with a mentality of abundance, rather than a “scarcity mindset.”
Well, I think I got what I asked for! But I got it in unexpected ways.
Financially, it was a good year. Not a great year, not an awful one. My income was about the same as last year. That said, I’m proud that I did not chase business opportunities just because I thought they would pay off financially. I pursued opportunities that were meaningful and a good match for my skills and strengths. I worked with amazing clients, including a bunch of new clients. I led projects and trainings that I had not done before, and I collaborated with terrific professionals. My year in business felt abundant in many ways.
I have had a side hustle for a while, and this year I pursued a second side hustle. Why have three jobs, one might ask? I decided to spend less time on the first side hustle, because the income just wasn’t matching the effort. But I picked up the second side hustle because I thought it would be really fun, and I was right! I’ve only been doing it a month, and I’ve been amazed by the response, both financially and in terms of “buzz” and excitement among my friends. It’s a company that’s been supporting women entrepreneurs for 130+ years, and I feel great about that. I’ll keep doing it as long as it continues to bring me joy and the income is worth it.
There were many other ways that 2019 was abundant. I took my daughter on her first trip out of the country. I finished pre-paying a year of college for her. We had a Bat Mitzvah – which was unexpected! And magical. And joyous. And fun. And stressful. And time consuming. We went through the death of a beloved pet. We acquired a new pet – and it’s been a rocky road (she is having trouble adjusting, and it’s kind of turned our household upside down). A dear family friend died. I had a major, and somewhat scary, and definitely weird, car problem. My daughter started high school. We made new friends. We celebrated. We loved hard.
Basically, 2019 was A LOT. It was good, it was hard, it was abundant in every sense of the word.
Now, I feel like I need to catch my breath. I need to tune in more closely to my intuition, and I need to figure out where to put intensive effort, and where to let things flow. I also need to figure out if those things are mutually exclusive, or if I can do both.
My word for 2020 is… EASE.
I want to feel greater ease with my workload, my household, my friends and family, and my sense of comfort with my own decisions.
I want to reap the benefits of hard work, but I don’t want it to feel so hard.
I want to feel that I’m working WITH the flow of life, and not against it.
One of my key questions (and it’s a question that applies to my personal life, my work life, and my clients) is: Can you have ease, and still have focused effort and hard work?
I would never tell a client not to work hard. But I know, for me and for the nonprofits with which I work, that when you are doing the right work and doing it well, it doesn’t always feel so hard. Yes, the hours are long, and you have to figure out difficult things and sometimes make tough decisions and have uncomfortable conversations, but can you do that with a sense of ease?
For me, living with greater ease will be a form of self-care, a contribution I make to myself. For you, self-care might look different. For my clients, I want to spend this year figuring it out how it applies to their work and their organizational operations.
There’s something I say to my daughter sometimes, when we are having conflicts over silly things, like brushing teeth or which coat to wear. I say, “Life is hard enough. Can we just let the easy things be easy?”
Is it possible to let everything be easy? Or if not easy (because plenty of things are not easy), is it possible to do the difficult or challenging things with a sense of ease?
I don’t know yet, but I will report back from the front.