I am one of those people who hangs on to friends. If you were my friend when we were children – and assuming nothing untoward occurred along the way – the odds are pretty high that we are still friends to this day. I have monthly phone conversations with childhood friends, with college friends, with graduate school friends, and even have get-togethers with IBM friends. It’s quite a gift!

Looking back at my life has afforded me great insight and wonderful memories. When I moved a couple of years ago, I enjoyed going through my boxes of mementos from the past. The feelings they brought up were warm and comforting. 

This past New Year’s Eve, I embarked upon my usual ritual of looking back at the past year, recognizing what worked and what didn’t, and putting forward my intentions for the coming year. I also come up with a word or phrase for the year. I was curious to see what would come forward.

I reflected on the things I had done, the places I had gone, and the people I had seen. As usual, it made me feel comfortable, knowing I had been fully present and open to opportunities that came my way. I thought about what I wanted to do and accomplish this year. And what I realized was there was a much different feeling that came forward. 

That feeling? Fear. Not a crippling one, but enough that I noticed it. That it made the “going back to review what felt good” seem far more appealing. “Going back” was known and was comfortable to me. I could go back and revisit what I knew I liked and avoid the other things. Looking forward was just full of unknowns, and was, frankly, a little scary.

This was a great revelation to me. I have often thought of myself as a trailblazer, of someone who takes chances, who is a great adventurer. But me afraid to move forward? A foreign concept. Or, more accurately, one I didn’t choose to admit. 

I spent some time reflecting on how often of late I have gone back to the tried and true – or at least the tried – because there was an element of safety and security in it. A very much lesser example of “the devil you know”, but the concept is the same. And lest I start berating myself for this choice for the easier, softer way, I took the time to understand why this might be so. It didn’t take long to remember that I had gone through a rather tough couple of years recently, and that maybe my psyche needed a rest. Maybe the break was what I needed to recharge my batteries and gear up for the next phase of my life.

And with that new insight present, it came to me what my word for 2023 is: FORWARD! My intention is “I have the courage to look and move forward in my life”. I have already caught myself in thoughts that were become a pattern, where I would too easily dismiss something new and find a way to go back to something that I knew had worked in the past. By merely repeating the word FORWARD in my head, it refocuses me and reminds me that I have the courage to move in that direction, without a need to go back. 

So, onward into 2023! There’s no looking back now.