2024: The Year of Want

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Every mid-December, I get the itch to close out the year and prepare for the new. For the last four years, I've been using Susannah Conway's Unravel Your Year and Find Your Word workbooks - these have been valuable tools as I move toward appreciating and understanding how life continues to shape, change, and delight me.

As I wrapped up 2023 and prepared to dive into finding my word for 2024, I found that many of my top word choices reflected a season of inward-turning and rest. I spent time with enjoy. Simple turned up many, many times. Easy was another word that felt resonant. Delicious and pleasurable also made the list.

As my word exploration continued to unfold, I was encouraged to write down some things I hoped would happen, some dreams I'd like to nurture, and some items that were definitely happening in 2024. These included:

  • follow my PCOS-healing diet
  • finally get my garden under control. Its overrun with weeds and it will require a full-scale (and full-budget) overhaul to manage it at this point.
  • create a reliable sleep schedule to manage my fatigue and get my nervous system to a state of consistent rest
These questions were important to consider as I moved even closer to my word for 2024. After running through definitions and synonyms for all my potential words, I landed on ease (see also: simple, relaxed, attainable; Latin root "lying close by"). But I sat with that word for a few days, and though I felt excited by it, it didn't sink into my awareness with the comfort that I have experienced in years past. It wasn't until I remembered a phrase a friend had shared with me a few months prior that I realized why. She said,

"Wanting is enough."

And I realized that yes, while what I wanted was ease, the heart of the phrase was the wanting, not the ease. And with this, my word changed immediately to want.

This is a terrifying word choice for me. As someone who has approached intimate relationships from a place of people-pleasing and anxious attachment, the idea of wanting something is foreign and scary. In the last five years, I have become better at advocating for my needs in relationships. But wants? In the past I have viewed wants as selfish, secret, negotiable fantasies that take a backseat to whatever is present in any given moment in relationships. I have grappled the last two years specifically with huge amounts of shame for wants - telling myself I should not want, that wants are unimportant, that wants are relational threats. For the last six months I have been telling friends that I wished I could hire someone to teach me how to "be mean" and "set boundaries" (secret language for: ask for and seek after my wants). I sat at the cusp of 2024 and decided to embody want.

It has been two weeks since want became the direction I chose, and already it has proved to be both a challenge and a relief. It hasn't necessarily helped me avoid all uncomfortable things, but has helped me uncover the things that I do want with more clarity. I've found myself saying things like:
  • I don't want to do the dishes tonight, but I do want to wake up in the morning to an empty sink and a clean table for a cup of tea. Dishes it is.
  • I don't want to go to this party, but I do want to connect with the people who will be there. I can go AND stay for less time.
  • I don't want to take my kids to the indoor skating rink, but I do want to be a mom who supports my kid's desires for fun and pleasure. (Post-skating-rink me insists that there are other ways to support fun and pleasure for my kids, and I don't want to go again. Skating rinks are now a Dad-only activity).
One of the most important perspectives my therapist offered me in 2023 was this: people pleasing is manipulation. It is the negation of my needs and desires to prioritize those of another in an effort to keep them around. Wanting is my exit off the loop of people pleasing. I'm hoping it will take me somewhere new and exciting, like relationships that are founded on authenticity and equity, rather than exchange and transaction.

Already, want is changing patterns in unexpected ways.
  • I want my body to feel safe and secure. This means I also want a consistent bed time and self-care routine. Even if it feels indulgent and inconvenient, I want to take good care of myself.
  • I want to see my friends frequently, so I will schedule my commitments around monthly moon circles and gatherings to ensure I make it often.
  • I want a home that is easy to keep tidy. This means I have the opportunity to explore ways to make that happen and that I want to follow through on them, even when its annoying.
  • I want to spend less money and time watching TV, so I will cancel some of my subscription services and listen to audiobooks and podcasts instead.
  • I want to be kinder to myself, so I will practice self-compassion and neutrality. Especially when its difficult.
  • I want my A1c (this is the average blood sugar levels over the last three months) and my triglycerides (the amount of fat in blood, contributing to high cholesterol) numbers to be absolutely and irrevocably beyond reprimand at my next blood draw. This means I want to follow my diet and activity prescriptions even when it is un-fun and inconvenient to like, everyone. Including myself.
  • I want my compassion, kindness, and generosity toward others to be genuine, which means I want strong boundaries.
  • I want my relationship with my kids to be secure, which means I want to put my phone away when they're home from school so I can listen AND follow through on expectations consistently.
Right alongside the wants are plenty of don't wants, too. Many don't wants are implied by the wanting itself. And amidst the wanting is a whole lot of ease. I've found that choices big and small become simpler to make when they are weighed against wants.

2024, the year that want is its own justification. Wanting is enough. May it be so.

© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.