Yearly Theme 2023 - Year of Intentionality
Yesterday, I reviewed by theme for 2022, the Year of Foundation. If you haven't read yesterday's post or heard of it until now, Yearly Themes are the brainchild of Myke Hurley and CGP Grey over at the Cortex podcast. The idea being instead of setting yearly goals with a high likelihood of failure, you instead set up a theme for the year as your guiding star.
Taking one of the most common resolutions as an example, if weight loss is your goal, rather than saying 'I'll lose 50 pounds by next year', have the theme Year of Weight Loss. By regularly reviewing it and keeping it mind, you use it to make decisions through the year. The big benefit though is you're not setting a hard limit on success; if you lose 20 pounds instead of 50, it's still a success as the trend line has gone in the right direction. There's no feeling of failure at a smaller number, which is vital. As Grey says, lasting personal change is really, really hard. Taking what you can to boost that feeling of success helps keep you going.
One of the things that came out of my 2022 review was the realisation that I've been able to make much more intentional decisions about life and actions, whereas previously I might let myself succumb to being overwhelmed, or worse, not even notice it's happening. It gave me a feeling of clarity and control that I've not felt in a very, very long time, and that's why I'm exploring it further in my Year of Intentionality.
But what does that mean to me?
I start picking a theme in late November/early December. It's usually orientated around a word or phrase that sticks out as either something missing in my life or something I want to pursue. When I got the Year of Intentionality solidified as my choice, it's time to mind map what that means.
I managed to get three clear sections out of it:
- Intentional Mind
- Intentional Actions
- Intentional Relationships
Intentional Mind covers the steps and actions required to obtain and maintain a clear mind. This gets split into two paths for me: the therapeutic path, where I pursue stress and therapy techniques alongside meditation, and the active path, maintaining a robust system for the thoughts, tasks, notes, and paperwork. I am at my best professionally and personally when I have Order, and while that's a difficult thing to keep hold of, it's something I can plan around and for. For me, this mainly means implementing the Getting Things Done methodology, but I'll go through that and how I plan to deal with my folder full of paperwork and notes in the coming weeks.
Intentional Actions is pretty self-explanatory, but covers quite a wide area. There's the obvious - health, hobbies, financial - but I'm including one I've never really cared much for previously. My appearance.
I've never really given too much interest in how I look or what I wear. I know what I definitely don't like, but outside of that if it's clean and doesn't make me look too stupid, I'll wear it. Similarly, I don't put a great deal of effort into my hair, beard, or personal grooming outside of the standard shower and teeth (I'm not that bad).
That changed in moments this year where I mostly made an effort to look nice for my wife, which she appreciated and in turn I, quite surprisingly, appreciated. I know it's an incredibly normal thing, but being morbidly obese through most of my adult life has led clinging to baggy clothes and a 'that'll do' approach'. Actually looking good for someone is a feeling I never really paid attention to. I want more of that.
Finally, Intentional Relationships. I mentioned yesterday that the personal fulfilment areas of my life are usually the first to go. I tend to isolate myself to both work on whatever it is causing the cracks whilst stopping people from seeing them. Combine that with the fact that too much social activity is exhausting for me, and I tend not to dip my toes in the social pool for very long.
I'd like that to change. Or rather, I need that to change. I'm a natural introvert, but too much of myself for too long can be a little unnerving. That and I have some really good people in my life; I'd quite like to keep them in it.
The other part of the yearly theme is determining what trend lines are we tracking and any ideal outcomes. How do we measure success here?
For Intentional Actions, I'm looking for:
- Weight going DOWN
- Exercise minutes and sessions moving UP
- Calories burnt moving UP
- Blood work either being maintained or improving
- VO2 max (estimated by Apple Watch) going UP
- Credit balance heading DOWN
- Savings and investments going UP
- 12 month budget plan sorted
- Mortgage renegotiations discussed
- An understanding of how I'm currently spending my time (and areas for improvement)
- Time spent on hobbies going UP, and more specifically
- Number of books read/listened to going UP (I managed around 6 last year, so shouldn't be too hard...)
For Intentional Mind it's mostly maintenance and reviewing:
- Regularly review how I'm spending my time
- Implement my full system and set up reviews for it
- Meditation sessions and minutes spent going UP
- Yoga minutes going UP
- Regular therapy sessions
- Start a decision journal
- Tidy up my phone and regularly review what's working and what's not
- Medication dosage stays at 30mg daily or goes DOWN
- Review and update wardrobe
Intentional Relationships is simply increasing the amount of time spent maintaining them. Getting in touch, spending time with, and especially spending Intentional time with. No phones, no devices, turn off notifications. Especially with my wife.
There's a lot of things for me to think about and implement, but mostly it's a combination of what I'm already tracking (weight, fitness stats, meditation times, credit, etc) and things that are easily achievable. All of it combined to help me be more intentional with my life, deliberate with my time and actions, and ultimately more present.
There's a also lot of mention of 'time spent on X going up', but that time will ideally come from the hours spent sitting around either on my phone or iPad, mindlessly watching junk on YouTube or Reddit. That's also why I have the action to understand my current time better - how badly am I spending my time, and where can I make changes?
I'll be reviewing the theme quarterly on the blog, both to track my pogress and hold myself accountable, but I'm finding myself hopeless optimistic about this one. Last year fundmentally changed a lot of things and rebuilt my foundation.
Now to build on it.
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