The guiding phrase for 2018

December 28, 2017

Choosing a motto for 2018, New Years Resolutions, How to make New Years Resolutions

One phrase.

That’s it. That’s all you get to summarize the upcoming 365 days.

Do what you have to — print it out and stick it to your office wall, make a meme and save it as you iPhone background, whatever — to keep it front of mind the whole year, but make it stick.

Erase that mental chalkboard, pull out a blank sheet of paper, start a new Pinterest board, whatever. And now, like Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, I will tell you to breathe, reach out, and tell me what you see.

Light, darkness, and something else. Yeah yeah, funny. Now, truly look at the moment you’re occupying, the “right now” of your life as well as the winding path that’s led you here. There’s also a roadmap in your hands for what’s ahead (or a cellphone app, you pick). That roadmap shows you places you want to go, right? What’s that highway called?

There’s a consideration beyond a list of New Years resolutions, perhaps something more valuable and rewarding. If at the start of 2018 you could generate a phrase that stirs your heart and soul, then maybe that’s where the focus should go.

this is the pivot

I’ve never treated New Years Day as a new beginning or anything truly special. Habitually, quite the opposite, choosing instead to take stock of what I have rather than consider where I’m going. Not a checklist of material things, rather a look into the cupboard of life and career and say, well, okay, at least it’s not empty.

Sunrise, Travel Photography, Writing Life, Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove, Pier, Sunrise,
Sunrise is simply the best time to be in Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Sure, I’d make a few resolutions, but I didn’t walk differently or think differently. By the first work day, I was the same ol’ same ol’. You ever feel like this at the start of a new year, looking back more than peering ahead?

I can’t do that anymore.

Complacency works as a deceptive dream, doesn't it? You don't realize you've fallen into it until you're so deep it takes your breath away. Click To Tweet

Recently, I wrote about taking responsibility for my Adult ADHD, and one of the results of addressing that challenge was to realize how little I followed through.

For the 12 years my wife and I have been together, it became part of our character that I was the idea guy, and Alison was better at the execution. I’d draw up some way to paint and decorate a room in our house, and she’d be the one to paint it and gather the décor. She was the one to plan our honeymoon to Costa Rica, complete with whitewater rafting and canyon repelling, after I’d suggested we do something more adventurous.

At first, it was endearing. After some time, though, it became problematic.

Alison can’t be expected to follow through on every idea. She has her own aspirations, and she’s remarkably efficient and successful at making those happen. Me not so much?

and now for Choosing a motto for 2018

What I’ve learned about Adult ADHD is that following through on daily tasks and long term goals is a problem.

It’s not enough to recognize a problem. What you do about it, this is what counts. That’s why I’ve taken responsibility for it.

I’m not complacent any more, and I realize how little follow through I’ve completed in the last decade of my life. I wanted to write books, to travel, to create a life in collaboration with Alison for our two young boys.

Travel Photography, Sunrise, Cape May, New Jersey, Beach,
Sunrise over the beach at Cape May, N.J.

So where are you now? The calendar’s about to change, and I’m wondering what’s held you back. And before you make those 2018 resolutions, let’s consider what the 2018 motto should be.

By motto, I mean the point on your life compass the needle should point toward for the entirety of the year. Even when you struggle, take a moment to look where it’s pointing, then pick yourself back up and keep on keepin’ on toward that concept.

Build your resolutions off your guiding phrase for 2018.

For me, it’s simple. I want to keep it simple. At first, I wanted my guiding phrase to be “Finish. The. Damn. Book” because I’ve been writing for three years this story about my father, me, and the search for his birth mother.

Seemed like a good one. Finish. The. Damn. Book. Then I realized the principle of that statement could apply to everything in life.

For 2018, my guiding phrase will be “All In.” Just two words synonymous with “Follow Through,” and now every action flows from or toward that phrase. I’ll turn 39 this year, and I want one year from now so close to the bend in the road that is 40 to be well on my way toward what I envision for the decade ahead. All in. Commit to my aspirations, and for once, follow through.

Tell me what your motto or word is for 2018. I would love to know, and maybe others can learn from it.

Dave is a professional writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. His writing podcast, Creatively Genuine, is available on iTunes and Google Play.

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