Have you chosen your One Little Word (OLW) for 2015 yet? A One Little Word acts a beacon, a guiding light, directing one’s way for the year. When you get inundated with all that life brings, this is a word that can help you know what deserves your YES, and what really should get a NO. The right OLW will help to focus your time and energy away from that which is making the most noise and toward that which you truly value.
This week, each of us will be revealing the words we will live by this year. We hope you enjoy our stories, and we hope that 2015 is YOUR year.
What about you? Which word will you live this year?
But this doesn’t stop me from also thinking that, wow, I’m getting older. And time is marching on. I think about this not so much in the sense that I’m losing my looks, really. Or my energy, even though I feel that, too. I think about it in the sense that I still have SO much to do. I am still dreaming big about what I want to accomplish in this lifetime. I want to publish a children’s book. (I also secretly want to publish a romance novel.) I want to travel to a million different places. I want to read a trillion books. I am thinking that I might want to (possibly) think about maybe having a second baby.
In addition to this sense of urgency about how much I still need to accomplish, I am filled with daily gratitude about what I do have. I love my husband and my son with all I’ve got. I love my career, my writing, and I where I live. I want to spend as much time as I possibly can cultivating these things.
And here’s the thing. There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s 14,400 minutes, 84,600 seconds. And a lot of those are spent sleeping, ideally. The point is, time is finite.
Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? The Enneagram ones? I am a type seven, The Enthusiast. Here’s a quick definition, from enneagraminstitute.com: The Busy, Variety-Seeking type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Acquisitive, and Scattered. This is how I live my life, acquiring experiences. The way this plays out is that I say yes to almost anything that crosses my path. I say yes to dinner invitations, opportunities to give workshops, to articles I’m asked to write. To me, everything sounds interesting and to say no means losing out on something potentially wonderful. Also, I really, really like being asked.
So, I have said yes a lot. What this means is that I have spent copious amounts of time doing things that don’t necessarily get me closer to what I really want to be doing. Author and speaker Scott Ginsberg points out the trouble with so many yes responses. He writes, “You’re always saying no to something. So, every time you say, “yes” to someone else, you’re also saying “no” to yourself.” When I was younger, that didn’t seem to matter so much. “I’ll just do that thing I really want to do later,” I thought. But now, I realize with utter certainty that later is NOW.
My dad passed away last February. I feel his loss in startling and unpredictable ways. When I tend to my son in the wee hours of the night, I often think of my dad. First, I feel the jolting shock that still comes each time I remember my dad is no longer here. I am overwhelmed by sadness to thick it feels I might drown in it. As I claw my way to the surface of my grief, images come that have taken on a timelessness in their vivid, tangible detail. I see my dad carrying me in a backpack while I try to grab his glasses. I see him pitching balls to my cousins and me on a lazy summer day. I see him driving our family across the country to visit his parents in Queens.
Of course, I wish for more time with my dad. I wish he could see my son grow up, that he would have had the chance to see what grandfather-hood is all about. We were about as chummy as a father and a daughter could get, and the list of ways we made the most of our time together is long. There was a lot of love always in our family, much of it came from my dad, and when he died, surrounded by his wife, his five children, and his infant grandchild, the only regret any of us had was that we didn’t have more time with him. Knowing this, that we spent our time together well, is a small vessel of joy that I cling to in the sea of my loss.
Thinking of my dad brings into perfect focus two very important truths. First, a lifetime is finite. Second, a lifetime is made up of a bunch of small moments, moments that we get to author. So, I’m deciding to author each moment by making choices. I’m going to study carefully the things that come into my life, and I’m going to say no to them if they don’t fit with what I really want my life to add up to.
My word, time, isn’t really about being present in the moment, though that is important. It isn’t really about appreciating what I have, though I want to remember to always do this, too. It is about making the best possible use of the time I have, and doing this by choosing wisely.
I vow this year to spend my time with purpose, to see each moment as an investment in what I really want my life to be.
As Steve Jobs once said, “It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
May your 2015 be filled with the best of moments and with time well spent.
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).