Wednesday was the first day of spring, and in keeping with my commitment to seasonal keywords, I am ready to announce my choice for spring. The habit of using seasonal keywords has provided me with a way to visualize my short-term goals in an effort to free-up the future. I want to have more time for pursuing the things that give me meaning, but my schedule has been too hectic, a condition that is a direct result of a lack of awareness. If this practice and focus have done nothing else for me, they have shown me that I have been moving through my life on auto-pilot, responding to distractions without having a solid compass that leads me back to true north, or my authentic self.
For each season, I choose a keyword. Then I look for a visual representation that helps me keep these keyword in sight throughout the season. The picture for each season reminds me of my intention and keeps me focused on the spirit of the keyword. Interestingly, the process also leads from one season to another without a lot of thinking about what keyword is next. In other words, once I came up with the first keyword, the next ones have presented themselves with little conscious effort on my part.
When my friend recommended that I try this keyword thing, I struggled a little bit to find just the right keyword. Not that I was going for perfection–that’s not my thing. But I wanted something “worthy,” something that was worth focusing on for a whole season. However, I found myself in a state of confusion trying to figure out what keyword could possibly help me focus on what needed to be done. All of my responsibilities were so overwhelming that I felt I was simply rushing from one crisis to another. So whatever activity or project or deadline was clamoring the loudest got my attention. That was how clamor came to be the keyword for fall.
As I struggled to find some way through all of the intense activity and create some kind of path to make the future less chaotic, this picture helped focus my attention on making sense out of all the noise and confusion. I started recognizing how my lack of attention had contributed to my lack of understanding about how I was letting my whole life be hijacked by unexamined requests and projects. Still, I couldn’t just drop everything. So all the clamoring led me to the next season.
Fall had taught me that I needed to be more aware, more intentional about what I did. By the time Winter was approaching, I knew that my keyword needed to be clearing. While I could not simply abandon the activities that filled my days and weeks, I knew I had to focus on finishing things up and clearing space for the new. The big difference, however, is that the new would not simply be whatever popped into my line of vision and grabbed my attention. The new had to be the things that would bring meaning to my life. Activities that would make it exciting to get up in the morning and would energize me.
I declared a moratorium on new activities and responsibilities, and tried to focus on completion. I did the moratorium for 30 days. I’ve officially renewed it once, and I’ve unofficially continued it into March. It may be time to tighten up the reins on that one and rededicate myself to it.
The winter keyword has been helpful, but still difficult because I don’t have a good sense of what is next. I’ve been so busy responding to all the distractions (disguised as opportunities) for so long that I don’t really know what I’m clearing for. This is partly explained by my personality type. It’s easier for me to let the needs and desires of others determine my path than for me to choose my own. Yet, I knew that the next step required that I find out what exactly will be meaningful to me, not just something that sounds interesting or something that I do for someone else’s definition of meaning.
In my post about choice a few weeks ago, I discovered that when I’m clear about what is really important, the doing of the necessary tasks is not in question. I just do them. Even if they aren’t pleasant. It’s just what I do. As soon as the clarity is gone, as soon as I start thinking it’s time to choose what to do next, I get tangled up and accomplish very little. So my keyword for spring was simple: clarity.
Like the keyword for winter, this one came to me organically out of the experience of the previous season. By the time fall came to an end, I knew that clearing was important. Likewise, as spring approached, I knew that clarity was essential. The keyword of clarity is my attempt to create a sense of space and meaning in my life. To enjoy the day to day experiences of doing activities that reinforce that meaning. It can lead me to know what my next move is. If I have a strong inner compass and know who I am and what I want to create, I won’t be lost. I wilI stop choosing activities and responsibilities that have no connection to meaning. More importantly, I will stop simply responding to the multitude of diversions floating around me. I am looking for my center and will test new ideas and projects before giving them a home in my calendar.
The clearing isn’t finished, but as I continue the process, I now seek clarity as I take the time to know myself better and discover what kind of meaning I really want to create in my life. I have so much Farther to Go!