A couple of months ago I was thinking about goals for myself and wasn't really coming up with anything. I'm not sure why I was even sitting there trying to come up with goals when I didn't have anything in particular in mind prompting me to do so. Maybe because it was shortly after the start of the year and it felt like I was supposed to? I have no idea.
What I realized is that I felt pretty content and that is an interesting heart space to be in for me. Have you ever sat down to write out personal goals and found yourself at a loss? Me either. I found it intriguing, exciting and a little scary because it felt like something new. Even though I didn't have any particular behavioral "goals" I wanted to work on at the moment, I still felt a notable pull toward personal growth and was trying to sit with that a minute. I was looking for something and just couldn't quite put my finger on anything.
I picked up an old journal from last year that hadn't been touched since, well, last year. My thought was that if I started exploring and writing I would eventually come up with language for my longing. The first entry in that journal was from almost exactly one year prior. As I sat to read it, I found that I had written down all of the qualities I desired to experience in living. Some would be considered fruits of the spirit, such as joy, peace, patience, faith and self-control, but I didn't stop there. What amazed me was how long my list was... I certainly was not at a loss for language when I wrote that entry! I had written at least 20 different traits and ways of being and immediately knew that was what I had been looking for. I already had the words, I just needed to be reminded.
After reading through that entry, I decided to write all of these traits, virtues and ways of being on small pieces of paper. I grabbed a clay project from my older son's middle school days and folded each piece of paper into quarters and placed them in the small clay cup. I decided that, rather than focusing on a behavioral task or outcome, I would select a piece of paper at random from the cup and use it as a guidepost for the day. I didn't put any rules on myself with this... I just stuck it in my back pocket to help me stay mindful of how I want to live, how I want to show up and how I want to experience being in the world. I have been doing this regularly now for a couple of months.
Sometimes I will keep the same piece of paper for a few days if I feel it is an area or trait that I want to practice more. Sometimes I keep it in my pocket for one day and move on to the next. I have lined up on my mirror the ones I have already drawn and find myself grabbing a combination of traits each morning (I still have some in the cup that haven't been drawn yet). Today I chose love and wisdom and have found myself tucking that combination in my pocket on at least a few different occasions. These two words speak to me, especially when I'm heading to work. I take my work with clients seriously and invest in their well-being while also taking care of myself and my family. I look for guidance and pray that I approach my work and family life with love and wisdom... that just feels safe and right to me.
We are all experiencing a sense of chaos in our world right now, there is no getting around that fact. All of us are feeling a sense of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and worry to some degree and doing the best we can. As I grabbed the two little papers from my pocket during a break for a gentle reminder of my focus for the day, I thought it might be helpful to share this with others. Wisdom and love, again, feel like safety to me in a time of uncertainty. I think if we could all approach our decision making, behavior and interactions from a place of love and wisdom we can create a sense of greater safety for ourselves and for each other. I sincerely hope that all of you are taking care of yourselves and your families during this time. Please stay safe.
Licensed Professional Counselor
9219 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931
I am also a contributing mental health writer at