My 3 words for 2014 were Now, Be, Do.
These three words came to me, like a gift. No need for contemplation. Now, Be, Do just popped into my head immediately in December 2013 and I knew these words represented my mandate for 2014.
At the time, I perceived Now, Be, Do to be about taking purposeful action and focusing on now, rather than past or future. Over the course of the year, however, I came to realize these words were given to me with other intentions.
This post is about what I learned, generally, during 2014 about the meaning of Now, Be, Do.
The basic meaning and intention I ascribed to Now, Be, Do at the beginning of 2014:
- Now: Stop putting things off into the future, don't dwell on the past.
- Be: Be myself, live true to my purpose.
- Do: Take action.
My intention was to use Now, Be, Do almost like a mantra to focus my efforts on action to move forward in some areas where I felt I had, to some degree, dawdled during 2013.
Was I successful? To some degree, yes.
I was definitely true to myself (for the most part) and I was a decision-and-action machine.
I made forward progress on various goals, although as the year progressed I did not progress in the direction that I really wanted to be going as fast as I'd intended at the beginning of the year.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Here's a quick look back at how my life evolved in 2014, using the words in slightly different order, because of how I came to understand the meaning of Now, Be, Do over the course of 2014.
In 2012 and 2013, I put a great deal of time and energy into really digging deep to rediscover who I am, what my values are. I knew that I'd be making some big life changes in 2014 or 2015 and I wanted to be sure I made the right changes, rather than simply changing for the sake of change.
Finding My Why
In other words, I'd spent two years exploring and rediscovering my “why” and identifying the things I think I'm supposed to be doing. Myy aim for 2014 was to really begin to BE that person, to make choices consistent with the “real” me.
Overall, I was successful at becoming a more true version of myself. I continued to “take off the mask” simple “be myself.”
A lot of the posts I've published over the past few months (about telling my story) relate the Be philosophy I've been following, so I won't restate all the details about who I am and what I'm about.
I also discovered that Be had a more philosophical meaning that is hard for me to express here. Rather than belabor (pun intended) that here, I'll cover the deeper meaning of Be in future posts.
I conceived the word “now” to be about a mindset tilted in the direction of action, rather than more planning, dreaming, visioning. Now was about the intention that it was time to move forward.
As we moved into February, March and April, I got side-tracked (more on that momentarily) and I became frustrated at myself for getting side-tracked.
That mindset of frustration and self-judgment sort of violated the philosophy of “now,” as I'd defined it. And “as I'd defined it” is a key qualifier.
I Misunderstood “Now”
As the year progressed, though, I came to realize that I'd misunderstood the meaning of “Now.”
Now wasn't about taking immediate action, Now was about living mindfully in the present moment. By November I was no longer in the place of self-judgment over my inability to accomplish everything on my goals list for the year. Instead, I was in a place of self-acceptance.
Reading Leads to Revelation
I'm a reader and I'm always reading several books at any give time. I choose from a variety of topics, always pursuing my curiosity. Over the course of 2014, I read more than a few books from a variety of philosophies and disciplines that can loosely be classified under the heading of spiritual growth and self-awareness.
As a result of my readings, I came to understand “Now” to be about living in the immediate moment, being present in each moment, rather than referring to taking action today.
I started to take 10 minutes to pause and breathe in quiet. This was my attempt at meditation (which I'd tried briefly back in my law practice days, unsuccessfully then).
It wasn't a daily practice, but on the days that I remembered to pause, set the timer on my phone to 10 minutes, and just watch my breath I noticed a huge difference in my outlook and my productivity.
This practice led me further into the practice of focusing on the present moment. Now is all we have. I simultaneously experienced the power that comes from now, as I practiced my breathing and continued to read.
This brief explanation of how my understanding about “the power of now” evolved in 2014 is pretty superficial. Suffice it to say, my growth in this regard has been profound, even if it's not visible yet on the outside.
As a result, as we begin 2015 I feel much more centered and prepared to move into the next phase of my life.
Although aspects of it seem to be taking shape, I do not have a well-defined understanding of what is coming next.
I just know that I have to stay present today, “do” whatever I must do for each moment I'm given. The outcomes, the results, are not within my control.
At the beginning of 2014, I perceived “Do” as the action-orientation to complement the philosophy of “Now.”
Rather than spend a great deal of time in early 2014 with efforts to plan where I was going, I more or less jumped in with both feet. I was very busy “doing,” pretty much all day every day, beginning January 1.
I committed myself to making decisions quickly and stop revisiting past choices and actions.
I was very proactive. Very action-oriented. I was definitely executing. In short, I was a DO-ing machine in 2014, although I didn't always seem to be doing ALL the things I wanted to do each day. Again, “I wanted” is a key qualifier.
Early in 2014 I made the decision to leave my job at Samford, although I left the exact date open to give me time to figure out what I wanted to do next.
I'd known since 2012 that I would be leaving Samford within a couple of years. That preliminary decision was what had, in part, sparked all my self-exploration and reflection that began in the Fall of 2012. I knew I would stay through 2014, since that would qualify me for particular employee benefit.
In January 2014, I met with the Samford Provost to identify the official deadlines I would need to meet and procedures to follow to formally implement my choice to leave, whether I decided to make that May 2014 or May 2015.
I also decided to attend the ABA TechShow as part of my exploration of idea that I might start a consulting practice focused on social media marketing for law firms and other professional services providers. Related to that, I did several big freelance writing projects for major clients and also worked with another client on a smaller scale.
Tar Sands Fight
In March, I got heavily involved in unpaid research and strategic communication work on the Alabama tar sands mining challenge.
Ultimately, as the summer turned into Fall I felt like I allowed my efforts to understand and fight the tar sands mining proposals distract me from my own paid consulting and farming activities between April and mid-July, and I started to beat myself up over that. But, at the end of 2014, I wasn't sure. I can't judge myself on that. I did what I felt needed to be done at the time, and I don't regret it.
But in light of where things stood in late July 2014, I decided the wisest and most responsible financial and professional choice would be to return to Samford for one last year.
I'll save the details on the Fall 2014 semester for a future post, because this one is already too long!
But…..and this is key…..I would not trade the 2014 delay for a different outcome.
A Look At Now, in 2015
Today in early 2015, I feel much more prepared to move to the next stage of my life than I ever would have been if 2014 had turned out like I had intended or hoped one year ago.
In other words, I had more to learn in 2014 that I needed to learn and experience before I could move forward. I also had some things I needed to let go of that I didn't realize I was still holding on to.
Now, Be, Do.
I'm continuing to contemplate and use these words as I move forward in 2015.
My three words for 2015 are: Sceptre, Beams and Orchard. For these three words to have full effect, I had to experience and grow through Now, Be, Do.
And it all leads back to my vision reflected in Zoom, Vivace and Jazz. That vision is just beginning to come to fruition.
I am grateful for today and this moment and everything in my life. It's all just what I need at any given moment.
All the best to you for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015.