Last January, I began the practice of choosing a single word at the outset of the new year to frame my perspective for the upcoming months. 2015 was the year of EXECUTE, to inspire a year of GTD after some pussyfooting with both creative and personal goals. It’s sharp, angular, imperative. While I’m conceptualizing my word for 2016, I’m feeling much more grounded in what I’ve accomplished and what I view on the horizon. But what’s still murky is the emotions and the negativity that can be an unwelcome partner to the creative process. Enter my word for 2016: GOOD.
One of my downfalls as a writer/person is that I rely on hyperbole more than I should. One word for it is dramatic, which is the one my father prefers when he describes me, but that’s not quite it. I tend to do things big, at least with words. Things aren’t ever “meh” in my universe. They’re awful, outrageous, deplorable! And if things are good—marvelous, spectacular, stellar, rad! When you have options like that in your native tongue, why wouldn’t you use them (amirite)?
Anyway, this hyperbole thing can be quite the monster in the creative sphere. Excellence is subjective; it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of acclaim or measuring up to a perceived standard. Scarier still: boxed in to an idea of what good or great or the best should be, suddenly the art becomes a means to an end.
I’ve always held myself to an incredibly high set of expectations and settled for very little less. It’s exhausting, and the world we’re living in right now is already exhausting enough. This is a year for a bit of looseness.
I chose the word GOOD for this year. I don’t want to be incredible. I don’t want to be a the best. For 2016, I just want to be good. The definition of the word matters, and “good” feels so small, doesn’t it? “Good” is a word for things when they’re not bad; it’s a word below excellent, great, and definitely below exemplary. Even the dictionary reminds you that “good” is bested by “best” as a comparative adjective and “best” as the superlative. I think we need to be okay with being good.
When you’re constantly striving for greatness, and even beyond that, you’re sure to let other important things falter. For me, when I’m going full-steam on a project, it’s easy to forget to take care of myself. It’s easy to be not-so-kind to others. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and let all the important building blocks of my life fall to the floor.
This year is going to be a year of taking care of myself. I’d like to figure out how to really succeed at what I’m passionate about, but I’m going to do so on my own terms. Maybe that means pavement pounding until I can find a mentor, or maybe that just means giving myself permission to not be the best. To not punish myself for not measuring up to the highest of high standards. To believe in balance. To honor it. I’m going to cling to good in 2016. So, here’s to goodness. Here’s to being quieter, more deliberate, and simply: good.