First Thoughts for 2022

January 14, 2022

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

How have the first two weeks of the new year been treating you?

I’m finally taking a breath after a whirlwind last couple of weeks of 2021, another year I’m not sorry to put behind me. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks recovering (I’m so tired…you?) and regrouping. (Read: digging out my office which has become, once again, a Pit of Despair.)

The beginning of a new year is a natural place to think about goals and changes you want to make. But this year, instead of planning a whole year’s worth of goals, or diving head first into the deep end, I’m taking a gentler approach overall. For example:

Word of the year

Remember my word of the year (WOTY), dare, from last year? Probably not, because after that first optimistic post, I don’t think I revisited it on the blog even once. And not much more often in private. Too many varied and disrupting events took place in 2021, and dare just didn’t fit well with how the year played out. In this instance, choosing a word of the year was kind of like when health experts try to match the annual flu vaccine with the flu strains expected to be circulating…and fail!

In retrospect, a better WOTY for 2021 would have been “survive.”

So anyway, as 2021 wound down, a word kept reappearing in my consciousness, and as I usually do when that happens, I’ve taken it as my WOTY for 2022:

Simpler.

Not shiny or glamorous, but fitting, in that the past two years have made me hunker down and reevaluate my life in unexpected ways. I’m looking forward to seeing how simpler influences how the year unfolds. Two things that come to mind immediately are the way I cook (my menu planning and cooking need a revamp that makes them simpler) and what I concentrate on in my writing. I’ve been chasing too many different types of writing projects and I’ve managed both to lose the joy of writing as well as dilute my focus and skill level. I’m sure more will come to my attention as the year goes on.

(Two of my online friends have also chosen words of the year. Read their posts here and here.)

Goal setting/yearly planning

I’m very good at complicating things, overscheduling, and being wound too tightly. Rushing, rushing, rushing. Fitting more in when I should take more time to do fewer things. (Another way in which simpler may help.)

I came across this sentence in something I read (forgive me, I can’t remember where I found it), and this sums up what I want for 2022:

“I want a year of ease and serendipity and settling into the spaces of my life in a way that feels organic instead of molded to fit arbitrary goals I set for myself.”

I’m slowing way down. Being a lot more deliberate. There are a few things on my “I’d like to accomplish” list for 2022. I’m using Gretchen Rubin’s “22 for 22” framework, but I only have about 10 things listed so far. 

What I’m not doing

I’m not doing any reading challenges. I’m not going on a diet. I’m not “making big plans,” at least not yet. 

And speaking of plans, I just finished reading Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman (Amazon, Bookshop, no affiliation), which is not about time management in the traditional way at all. This passage resonated:

“…planning is an essential tool for constructing a meaningful life, and for exercising our responsibilities toward other people. The real problem isn’t planning. It’s that we take our plans to be something they aren’t. What we forget, or can’t bear to confront, is that, in the words of the American meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, ‘a plan is just a thought.’ We treat our plans as though they are a lasso, thrown from the present around the future, in order to bring it under our command. But all a plan is—all it could ever possibly be—is a present-moment statement of intent. It’s an expression of your current thoughts about how you’d ideally like to deploy your modest influence over the future. The future, of course, is under no obligation to comply.”

Almost none of my plans over the past two years have come to fruition. I’m disappointed, but at the same time, simply grateful to be alive and relatively unscathed. I’m not even going to try to guess what 2022 holds, but I am going to stay optimistic and open. To continue to embrace simple pleasures and everyday adventures—and to share any happy discoveries with you.

Do you have any special plans for 2022? What is your word of the year?

For more easy, beginning-of-the-year inspiration, check out these links:

The Soul + Wit podcast, “Less Hustle, More Happiness.” 

The Action for Happiness Happier January calendar.


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6 comments

  1. Kathy I think your perfect word is wonderful. These past two years have managed to help us see that the routines and the things we took for granted were really precious. As we move into 2022 I hope that those routines will return but that we will not ever forget how much those things matter when the world goes awry. Thank you too for sharing and visiting my 2022 word. As always I love reading your thoughts. "Simpler" is perfect for the times we are in. Hugs!

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  2. Debbie--We've been through so much in the past two years! I think simpler will help me use routines, new and old, to appreciate and cope with life. And I know listen will be a meaningful word for you!

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