Happy New Year, readers and friends! Whether you’re tackling a new language, writing a new book, or pursuing continuing education, I hope 2018 is a year that brings you closer to your personal goals.
There are two things that I do instead of New Year’s resolutions. One of them is a longer-term project: the 101 Things in 1001 Days project. (I’m due to be wrapping up a current list in May, so more about that later.) The other is an annual project, but rather than one of those hyper-focused, driven-for-success SMART goals that life coaches and trainers like to talk about, it’s just a word.
I started doing this in 2016 and I’ve found it to be low-stakes enough to be not stressful, and focused enough that it’s brought pretty substantial improvements in my day-to-day life that have persisted long after the new year.
In 2016 I chose the word “focus,” since everything in my life felt very scattered and, well, unfocused. This is to be expected when you’re a freelancer trying to pull from all streams (and even running an Etsy shop to boot), but it’s not really a productive feeling. Keeping that one little word in mind helped me to stay on task with what I needed to do, and reminded me to keep my digital and physical workspaces clear except for the tasks I needed to work on right now. It’s amazing how less stressed you feel when you go from a browser window with twelve or fifteen tabs open down to just four!
Last year my word was “courage,” a necessary trait after what was for me (and for the rest of the world) an overwhelming and discouraging 2016. I didn’t succeed as much as I would have liked with that word, but I still took risks and jumped on opportunities I would have normally let pass me by. I don’t know if I’m now any more courageous than I was at the beginning of the year, but we’ll see how this year plays out.
This year, I would love for things to quiet down a little so I can do some housekeeping and organizing. It’s also gearing up to be a big year for me for other reasons: it’s mid-term elections back in the US and my first chance to vote as a Swedish citizen. With any luck, I’ll also be starting Stockholm University’s Kompletterande Pedagogisk Utbildning program, but I don’t want to jinx it. Regardless, 2018 will be a year with a lot going on, and in anticipation of that, the word and concept I chose to steer my life towards in 2018 is:
Of course, just because I’m shooting for a calmer, more serene 2018 doesn’t mean I won’t be taking on any new work! It’s more a word about my daily habits and deciding which ones enrich my life and which ones just send me into an unnecessary spiral of nerves and worries. Even in Sweden, a country built for introverts, interacting with the world as an introverted freelancer can really take it out of you.
Are you going to choose a word for 2018? I’d love for you to tell me about it in the comments or on Twitter.