Words and intentions for 2011

I’m writing this around a fire in the Great Basin Redwoods State Park, a couple of hours south of San Francisco. (I become more like my father every year it seems, he would often take laptops camping, much to my mother’s dismay). Today was a day filled with the simple magic of the outdoors. Waking from a long sleep. Making a fire to warm up and cooking breakfast. Going for a hike down a gorgeous gully filled with extraordinary trees. More fire. More food. Good conversation and company. There’s something about spending time with trees, especially giant, ancient trees, to help put things in perspective, lend the appropriate scale to your stresses and anxieties. I always find time in nature focusing. I come back to the city more relaxed, calmer, ready to do the work that needs to be done.

The time around the new year is a great time for taking stock. I know the calendar ticking over doesn’t really mean anything, that time marches on regardless of the organizational structure we impose on it. But it matters, of course, because we choose to say it matters, and for me it is a chance to pause a moment, to look back at the year just past for meaning and look forward to the year I wish to create.

I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past couple of weeks. 2010 was a really hard year. Nothing seemed to quite go according to plan. Much of it was filled with movement and uncertainty. I went through the complexity of securing a new visa mid-year and moved to San Francisco only for the job I came here for to disappear only five weeks later. A series of contracts has allowed me to stick around but does not guarantee being here in the longer-term, my visa requires that I’m working near full-time without any break in employment. This lack of certainty makes it hard to settle down, to really feel like San Francisco is home, as much as I love it.

This will work itself out soon, one way or another. I’m involved in a number of conversations about exciting opportunities, both for full-time and longer-term consulting gigs, that I hope will lead to greater stability soon. I have a great deal of confidence that whatever happens will be what is meant to happen, and that this year will be all about laying new roots, having new experiences, and contributing to my community, wherever that may lead.

A big part of my positivity is my excitement over StartSomeGood, the social enterprise I am co-founding. I really believe in our idea and vision and think we can create a sustainable platform which helps grow the social entrepreneurship movement by connecting great ideas with people ready to support them to happen. (If you missed it please check out my announcement from last week. You can also follow us on Twitter.)

Soon after the new year K and I held a little ritual, standing on the top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, designed to help us leave behind in 2010 some of the things we wanted to let go of and welcome new things to our lives in 2011. In preparing for this I was inspired by Beth Kanter (who was inspired by Chris Brogan) to identify three concepts which I hope will guide me this year. They are:

Learn – Stay open to new information and ways of doing things and constantly refine what I do based on what I learn. I want to learn more about myself, my practice and the world around me, develop new skills be really present to the people I meet and what they have to teach me.

Explore – Don’t fall into ruts, don't settle, keep seeking out new places and experiences. Spend more time outdoors in inaccessible places. Challenge myself. Connect with new people and participate in new communities and cultures.

Make a Difference – Find an organization I believe in and help them make amazing things happen. Help find and launch innovative new social good projects. Support my friends, family and partner.

If I focus on each of those things I’m pretty sure this will be a great year, however uncertain things may be right now. Onwards and upwards!

What are your intentions for this year?