2021 Retrospective: Rosebud, An Integrated Resolution Plan

A few years ago I began a New Years Resolution Plan called Rosebud. I heard about it on one of the travel podcasts that I follow. The process essentially looks like this:
Step 1: List Three Roses-
This is the stuff that I would consider the greatest strengths, successes or accomplishments of the past year, the stuff that has managed to blossom into a Rose.
Step 2: List One Thorn
This would reflect my greatest personal struggle of the past year.
Step 3: List Three Buds
Based on my “thorn”, this is a list of what I would like to “bud” into potential Roses in the coming year.
Step 4: Come up with a word for the year
This should be a single word that can help reflect the direction I want to head in the coming year, a single word that can give my year a theme or a recognizable focus and narrative.

So, why Rosebud?
I have been asked in the past, why three Roses but only one Thorn? Most of us don’t realize it, but it is often much more diffciult to come up with roses than it is thorns. Also difficult is learning how to speak about thorns in a way that imagines forward movement, seeing it in light of one’s potential for growth. It’s kind of like that old piece of advice that says when you are in an interview for a new job and they ask you about your weaknesses, always give a weakness that you can do something about.

The great part of the Rosebud system is that it allows one to document their struggles and their growth year by year as a kind of working and interactive diary. You can build on the previous year and form an ongoing narrative out of the successes, struggles and hopes. This is not about resolutions persay, at least not in the traditional sense, it is about making space for introspection and observation and forming that into perspective and potential. And it allows one to not just make goals, but to examine what those goals are actual about, the why of our goals.
With that in mind…


Heading into 2021 I had noted that my one thorn was this constant feeling of being defeated. There were multiple reasons for why I felt this way, and my three buds, my three hopeful observations, seems to have been interested and in redirecting and redefining my focus. At the time I had rebranded my website to intentionally move from a narrowed space (wrestling with turning 40 by looking at the story of my ilfe) and move into a more positivist focus to reflecting on the stories within my life, be it experiences, books, film, encounters, memories ect. This rebranding came with an upgrade to this site that allowed me to get rid of the ads and utilize my own domain.

I do think this rebranded focus has brought positive change, including more writing and more interaction with others through that writing. One change in 2021 that I think came from this rebranded focus was an invitation to join the team at one of my favorite podcasts, The Fear of God. I was asked to come on and contribute, along with being the odd podcast guest, biweekly articles that reflect on what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to. it has been an opportunity to sharpen some of my writing and my attention. It has stolen some time from this space of course, but i think that has proved a worthwhile exchange.

As part of my buds for 2021 i wanted to take better control of my presence on social media, as it was occupying much of my time and not resulting in much that was positive. I attempted to scale back on my reactionary participation, focus more on groups that I found fruitful and edifying, and stay consistent in my own feed. I wasn’t interested in unplugging entirely, but i was interested in utilizing it differently. This is na area I saw progress in, particularly in the early going, and yet i also have a long ways to go.

I had noted leading in to my 2021 Roses, Thorn and Buds the record breaking year I had in 2020 for film and books. That was part of my 2020 hopefuls so it was by design, but with this refocusing and redirecting anticipated dialing that back. This proved to be an epic fail. I broke my 2020 record for both film and books, and by a consideral amount. The strange thing being that i did so without really monitoring it or paying attention to it until December. My free time and space was intended to be spent on giving time to a personal research project on the subject of memory. i made some headway, but that is something i would really like to get back on track with in 2022.

My presonal word for 2021 was “story”, which was meant to capture my rebranded blog focus, my research project, and those attempts to redirect and refocus on something intentional.


Three Roses:

1. Research Project/Book

I Started my research project/book but fell off the wagon with it so to speak. Still, noting the progress that I did manage to achieve feels as good a place to start with identifying a rose fom 2021.

2. The Fear of God

Although this speaks mostly to the privilege of being asked and being givent the opportunity, coming on staff for The Fear of God was a highlight of 2021 and something I consider a rose if simply for represnting a commitment to staying on task and sharpening my writing process.

3. Buddy

As 2021 would have it we stumbled, through the apparent determination of my wife, on a new pup named Buddy (appopriately for our favorite film Elf). I see this as a rose more for what it imposes on my life, which is the opportunity to give myself to one who needs care, compassion and love as part of our found family. I see those as positive additions to the mix in 2021.

One Thorn:

Avoidance. This feels perhaps ambiguous, and it kind of is in my own head. But it also feels right on a number of levels. There are a number of areas, however undefined, that feel like if they are to bud they first need to be acknowledged. Setting out to figure out precisely what that is and means is a place to begin, but that means acknowledging the thorn.

Three Buds

1. Reinvest in relationships at home

I suppose this goes hand in hand with our welcome addition of Buddy, but it feels like things at home, which I think we would all agree if we are being honest, have been caught up in a diffcult space as of late. A little bit of apathy, depression, aimlesslessness, wrestling with addictions, being caught up in less than helpful routines. Getting out of the slump likely begins with doing it together, which means beginning with each other.

2. Take my record breaking year in film and books and funnel that time into greater investments

What do I mean by investments? Perhaps more intentionality, although I haven’t quite whittled that down yet. Certainly more opporunity for phyisical relationship. More honed reflection. I imagine this will need some dicipline and a paring back of the numbers, which would be totally fine. I think using my love of film to expand my horizons and get a little more creative, less adhered to content and more focused on the substance, will be something I can work through this year.

3. Make progress on my book

Given that I fell off the wagon this feels as necessary as anything. Definitely something I can get back on track.

My Word For the Year: Process

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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