SUSTAINABLE: My Word of the Year 2022

SUSTAINABLE. That's my word for 2022.

A word of the year is less rigid than a resolution, and more subtle than an affirmation. It can become a guidepost.

We're used to hearing "sustainable" applied to environmental impact, but at its heart it means ABLE TO BE MAINTAINED, ABLE TO LAST OR CONTINUE. "TO SUSTAIN" IS TO STRENGTHEN OR SUPPORT PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY.   So, the question becomes "Can I maintain this over the long haul? Does this strengthen or support my creative life, my relationships, my own physical and mental well-being?"

SOMETIMES, I look back at the year and realize afterword what the theme was. (2019? Self-regulation - learning to calm my own nervous system.) And sometimes, I start the year with an idea of what I want to hold. (2020? Spaciousness. Which evolved into the mantra, "I am ok in this moment.")

And sometimes, I look back at the past year (or years!) and consider what I really struggled with and consider how I might shift it. Hello, word of the year 2022.

I have a lifelong tendency to over-commit. I often make plans based on what I’m capable of at my peak – and almost always commit to new things in moments when I have a lot of energy. And you know what? I’M NOT ALWAYS AT MY PEAK!  My energy fluctuates.

The ANXIETY, STRESS, AND OVERWHELM that result have become HABITS. The new habit? Ask myself "Is whatever I’m planning or just volunteered to do or thinking about doing actually SUSTAINABLE? Will it help to create the long-term life I want?" This is helping me say “no” as well as helping me feel less anxious and more spacious.

If you want to ditch the long list of resolutions (or augment them with a simple reminder) and choose a word that captures their spirit and keeps you on track - here are few tips.

Consider what feeling you want to create in your life – not just what you want to avoid or eliminate or the concrete things you want to manifest.  Is there an attitude you want to hold, an action you want to remind yourself to take, or a value that you want to use to guide your decisions? Is there a theme that was starting to emerge in 2021 that you want to make more intentional this year, or that you want to take one step further?

Make a note of all the words or phrases that come to mind. Over the next few days, see which one resonates. You want to choose a word that will stick. Try posting it on your bathroom mirror, tacking it to the fridge, working it into collages and art projects, or even integrating it into your computer passwords. Write it in the front of your journal and integrate it into your gratitude practice or your regular journaling. Whatever you do, make sure you'll see it and use it on a regular basis.

I wouldn't be surprised if many of you are including "building a creative habit" or "doing more art" is part of your plan for 2022. However you decide to do it, I'm going to encourage you to make it a plan you can MAINTAIN OVER TIME. Yup. Make it SUSTAINABLE. How? Think in terms of SMALL, CONCRETE ACTIONS THAT YOU CAN DO REGULARLY OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. This kind of small, consistent effort can yield big results over time. Make it something you can keep your commitment to even if things are busy or the circumstances are less than ideal.