My current Fitbit was dying. Monitoring steps motivates my exercise habits so why not switch to Apple Watch now I thought. I basically have everything else the big, gleaming, glassed stores with blue-shirted salesclerks offer! And I love me a new electronic device. The setup. The customization. The fiddling around with options. The Apple Watch didn’t disappoint. Soon I was quite skilled at scrolling through the tiny apps and completing my circles.

And yet. Something was off.

Word up. A number of years ago I was introduced to the idea of identifying a core goal for a new year and assigning it one word. A word that could be posted to  remind you of you big picture core goal. I often do one for our firm and one personally. Last year it was “System” to encourage us at B&A to become more structured in the way we process documents and files. Personally I used “Joy” to remind me that all work and no play is decidedly joyless!

For the brand spanking new year, my word is “Intentional.” Scrawled across my bathroom mirror is the phrase “Live by design, not default” but this one word, “Intentional” reminded me that I want to think about my choices. I want to square them with how I choose to shape and design my life and show up in the world–which recently has embraced some of the “less is more” philosophy of the minimalist movement.

New Year’s Resolutions Last Exactly this long. According to the New York Post, “Research conducted by Strava, the social network for athletes, has discovered that Saturday, Jan. 12, is the fateful day of New Year’s resolutions.” Apparently by then, many of us have returned to default mode. We’re back to reading less, binge-watching more. Getting sucked in by YouTube or Instagram rather than tackling the project we swore we’d get to the first of the year. Making standby meals rather than venturing out with new foods and tastes. Skipping out on the gym.

Square up. I’ve learned to stop and pay attention when something feels off. Sometimes it’s a challenge to put my finger on why something doesn’t feel quite right and often requires that I sit with it, observing it until finally an explanation bubbles up. And so, when I noticed the near constant attention I was paying to my Apple Watch, I realized that didn’t square with my big picture goal of simplicity and being present with people. To actually interact with them and look them in the eye and listen. To have fewer things to care for, to dust, to wash and fold and put away, to service, to use, to charge, to play with.

Plus, it didn’t show my steps on the face. Wait what? The reason I had a fitness tracker was to motivate me to step it up. And so, back it went. Thank you Costco.

Here’s the point. It’s not about Apple Watch vs Fitbit. Or even whether a fitness tracker is a good idea at all. Rather, it’s about squaring choices we make with the big picture goals we have for ourselves. It’s about living by design rather than default. Default for me, decidedly not for many others, on this issue would have been to have the hottest smartwatch on the market and keep what I’d already bought and configured. I may own an Apple Watch one day (when it has a longer battery life!) but for now, I made an intentional decision that it wasn’t right for me when held up to the light of my big picture goals.

So this year, if you decide to finally get a divorce or have difficult conversations with aging parents or a former spouse, consider thinking first about big picture goals and only then intentionally choose how to engage.

Wishing you wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz


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