Last year, Sarah Bessey chose a lovely word for the year: fearless. Even though some of the ways that this word has worked out in her life have been pretty hard-core and nitty-gritty, the word itself just embodies a lovely sentiment. When I decided to join her, and others, in choosing a word for the year I quickly realized that it would not be a lovely word. My word for 2013 is struggle.
In the past several months I've begun to let go of my persistent belief that if only I could set my life up just right, being a disciplined, productive human being would begin to come naturally. I've realized that sometimes (and maybe most of the time) when I fail to be the person that I know I can be, it's not the fault of the routine, system, or checklist that I used: it's the fault my own underdeveloped self-discipline. I've come to see that instead of casting around for a new approach to exercise or the honing of my creative talent when I'm stymied by sheer discomfort, I just need to keep right on doing this uncomfortable thing. I've chosen struggle as my word for the year to help me apply these lessons.
I hope that it's clear that I'm not talking about "struggles" in the sense of difficult circumstances that simply present themselves to us as we live life; I had plenty of those in 2012, and expect my fair share in 2013. The struggles that I want to lean into this year are of a different kind.
I want to embrace the struggle that come from simply doing the best that I know with my time, my talents, and my resources. I want to stop taking the path of least resistance when it comes to how I spend my free time; how I eat; how I spend money; how I exercise. I want to struggle against my very self, against my strong impulse to fulfill my duties as basically as possible and then make myself comfortable, and I want to leave open the possibility that I will fail. I want to take on practices and habits that I think that I can master, but that I might not after all be able to. And when I fail, I want to take responsibility for my actions and omissions that contributed to failure. Then I want to get up, and keep on going.