What I’ve Been Thinking About This Week
My astute readers will know that I’ve been thinking through my Word of the Year for the past week. In As the Year Winds Down, I summed up the past several years’ words I’ve declared.
- 2018: PRACTICE
- 2017: GOALS: achieved by finding both TIME and SPACE
- 2016: HABITS
- 2015: MASTERY (and COLOR) + “Finish the Unfinished Objects”
- 2014: CREATE
- 2013: FOCUS
- 2012: DANCE
When it started in 2012, making DANCE my word of the year was obvious. I found ATS just 18 months previously, and I was smitten and dancing every moment possible. I had a five-year plan in mind, a first end-goal, and wild dreams. The notion of FOCUS hails back to my SCA mentor in all things artistic, Mistress Tonwen (Rae). When people would ask her was I was apprenticed to her “in” as an area of study, she’d laughingly say, “FOCUS!” I’m still not always completely focused, but it was a good reminder that just wildly chasing all the colors sometimes can result in a muddy result.
CREATE was a very fun year for me. I really did try to post hashtag photos of #CREATE almost every day of the year. It was enjoyable to see how many ways I do create and make things in my regular, every-day life.
Both HABITS and MASTERY (and the illusive “finish the UnFinished Objects” in my life) both speak to me about how one goes from a Wish to a Plan to an Accomplishment. I’m still on a life-long pursuit of improved habits and mastery of skills. I often suggest that someone can start with “Just One Habit” that takes them towards their goals. I would love a clean house, so right now as a family I’ve asked to work on “Just One Habit” and keep the living room couches (and their associated end tables) clean every night before bed. Just one habit: Pick up the living room at night. It’s been working for 9 days so far, and I’m feeling optimistic. Mastery of my artistic pursuits or my business skills—this also requires layering my habits, one upon another.
GOALS and PRACTICE were natural continuations of the same path I’d been pursing. It’s not enough to just build any habit, not without knowing what the GOAL should be. And having set those goals, it’s a matter of practice to get to the level of mastery I’m looking for. I cannot call 2018 any measure of success toward #practice, as this fell off quickly. It’s not that I didn’t practice things, but it wasn’t as powerful a beacon word for me as the months went on. I think I had my attention on “regular life” and keeping up with commitments, more than pursuing practice techniques and time.
But then this week, when I posted Careful What You “Wish For,” I was specifically trying to avoid setting myself up for failure with a Word of the Year that didn’t motivate me, or only set me up for learning hard lessons in weird or terrible ways. By Find Your Strengths I was reminded that my favorite way to improve life is to take what I’m doing well now and apply those lessons to what’s next. Lessons learned are important and should be headed. And the more I considered Strengths and Follow-through, the more I knew what I want is to be reliable, complete, and thorough about what I attempt. And applying those lessons learned is my tried and true method for success in life.
What I’ve Concluded
So where does that lead me? Pedestrian ideas swirled in my head like “CALENDAR” or “PRIORITIES” or even “TASKS.” But those didn’t seem to tie up the loose ends properly. They also looked like the kinds of words that could go horribly wrong. I mean really, “Calendar” as a word of the year? Please laugh along with me when these things came to mind. I’m laughing at myself. No, it’s much simpler than that.
My Word of the Year for 2019 is STRENGTHS.
- Play to my strengths
- Learn from my strengths
- Apply my strengths to habits I want to develop
- Use the lessons learned to extend my strengths
- Build my strengths
- Share my strengths with others
- Honor my strengths and make them count
- Support the strengths of others and lift them up
How do you think of your strengths? Do you honor them? Do you work to build them further? Do you share your strengths? Do you showcase the strengths of others in your life? How do you build toward strength?
Some Fun Visuals
Now, it wouldn’t be an effort of mine if it didn’t have a visual element or a nice tracking system, right? I just recently read about a “Year in Pixels” as a concept. Here’s some links for those who would like to know more.
And while I do like the apps on my phone, I’m also a spreadsheet user and a Google Drive aficionado. So I created a custom file on my Google Drive, with different tabs for different topics to track.
The idea is to fill in a block per day. There’s a column for each month and rows for the day of the month. You decide what color coding system appeals most to you. I love yellows and oranges, so I made the “best” or “highest” value in my color keys into “Golden.” I’ll be able to update my tracking from my phone and make changes on the fly throughout the year. I’ve already added another tab since I took these screenshots, to track spending time on studying ASL on my own.
Templates ready for tracking a Summary of my day, Movement, and Crafty pursuits
In case you’re unable to read the details on the screenshots, here’s my personal scales for tracking (for now).
- Summary of my Day: Scale includes (1) Golden, Best, (2) Green, Still Good, (3) Meh, Middle, (4) Cool, Could Be Better, (5) Fork in me, Try Tomorrow
- Movement tracking: Scale includes (5) Five minutes, (15) Fifteen minutes, (30) Thirty minutes, (60) An hour, and (61+) Over an Hour
- Crafty tracking: Scale includes (5) Just a few minutes, (4) A nice break, (3) A great session, (2) Committed time, and (1) Dude, Whoa!