Sunday, January 7, 2018

Influence in 2017

Each year over the past decade, my husband and I have chosen a word (or short phrase) at the beginning of the year to help focus and guide us. Sometimes the word itself comes from a bigger quote or proverb. Sometimes it's where we're lacking or maybe something we're actually doing pretty good with but we need to hone our skills in that area. It's always an adventure.

My word for 2017 was Influence. 

Initially I chose it because friends and associates were seeking my advice or opinion about weighty matters, and I realized I had the opportunity to be wise and share something positive in what might be someone else's darkest moment. That's a big responsibly if you think about it, and one that I really wanted to be a good steward of. Not to mention other spaces I occupied, such as social media, where I had the chance to hold someones attention for just a moment. I could use that moment to leave someone feeling better than they were before, or to draw attention to beauty or love. I determined to do that with every post, which meant that nearly a third (or possibly even a half) of the things I set out to post or sat down to write ended up getting deleted or never saw the light of day.

I set some private goals for how I could measure if I was having any success, and by the end of the year I'd achieved or surpassed each of them. Which is great, especially since we had an international move right in the middle of the year. But as is the case with each time we've done this, there were surprises, unintended consequences if you will, which also popped up. For instance, I noticed that in looking back over the year, I have cut out several things which were a negative influence on me. I never sat down and thought about doing it, I guess just spending my energy trying to bring a positive tone and being a force for love meant I had less space for the things coming in that were negative, so I let them go (or forcibly cut them out). I usually live so far in the future that I don't regularly take time to look back, but it's only in looking back that I can see this as the truth.

Having this word to focus on gave me a greater purpose other than just bobbing along and reacting with whatever emotion hit me. And wow, wasn't this year emotional! From a month-long trip to America in February during the inauguration of an extremely divisive president, to a move from our home in Shanghai of five years and the loss of a circle of supportive friends, having to start all over again, I will say that my emotions were all over the place. What helped with how I reacted to everything was thinking that someone else was likely watching me. And if I had even that small opportunity to show love (or BE love), or remain calm and full of grace instead of lashing out in the anger and fear washing over me, I should take it. Or like the saying about not saying anything unless it's something nice, at the very least I could remain silent until I could actually show love or grace or remain calm. I feel pretty good about how I did, and really that's the best marker as far as I'm concerned.

I'll be sharing shortly what my word for 2018 is. And like most of the best things in life, it excites me and scares me half to death, all at the same time.

What about you? Did you have a word for 2017? How do you feel you did with it?

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