mcleer-guysI keep a folder on my iPhone along the bottom row for the apps that I use the most aside from email, phone, and text. The folder title is always the “theme” I pick for the upcoming year every New Years. For the past 12 months, that folder’s name has been “Go Get It”.

I chose that theme on purpose. I had a lot of actionable items for 2016 that I wanted to reach. The biggest one was a new job – which I started in July of this year. I also had some goals within both my old and new job that I wanted to reach, and also had a few personal goals I wanted to go after.

But that wasn’t the only theme I considered for 2016.

Those of us in the “twentysomething” age range have a terrible habit of never making room for the things that really count in this world. Or at least it takes us a fair amount of time before we realize it.

I realized it in the second half of 2015. It was around August and I had to ask my mother when we were going to go to Atlanta for our annual Thanksgiving with our extended family. My mother responded with something like, “We’re no where close to planning that.” Of course they weren’t – it was August. But I was having to schedule events at my previous job that far in advance and if we wanted to do Thanksgiving the week before the actual holiday, I needed to know so I could “close” the facility for any rentals or major events. It was around this moment that I realized something had to change in my life.

I had let my professional ambition dominate my life in a way that was impacting relationships with people I care most about. It wasn’t just Thanksgiving, it was committing to birthday parties, weddings, or even dinner with friends and family. And it wasn’t just the job I was in, it was the choices I would make that limited my time with those around me.

When it came time to set my annual theme though, I opted for “Go Get It”. The ambitious side of my personality took the wheel for 2016. Whenever something professionally or personally revealed itself as something to “go after”, I did.

But while reflecting on 2016 this month, it’s clear that “Go Get It” was not the real theme for the year. Rather the second theme I had on my list, “Make Room” was.

Over the year, I worked hard on creating a better work / life balance. I made room for my family, made room for my friends, made room for new people in my life, and even made room for hobbies.

I made a conscious effort to choose to experience more of life rather than having those experience find, or force, their way into my life.

I still stand firm that “Go Get It” was an appropriate theme for my 2016 – I would not have been able to “Make Room” if I had not had gone out and “gotten it”. But at the end of the day, the real message 2016 has delivered to me is that it is important to find room for the things that actually matter in this world.

I don’t know what the folder on my phone will be titled for 2017 yet. I don’t decide on a theme until after Christmas. But I do know it will be a theme that capitalizes on what 2016 has taught me and will push me to always make more room.