December holds special meaning to me, as I think it does for most of you. It’s the end of the year and regardless of how it shaped it, we’re ready to start anew with refreshed hopes and dreams as this month comes to a close. Until then, many of us are also celebrating the holidays or spending more time with family and friends. It’s also the month I reflect on how the year has treated me and what I hope to bring more of in the coming year. A part of that is considering my word of the year: a word I’d like to help guide me and help me focus. My 2019 Word of the Year is CALM.
The Year of Calm
I started my word of the year three years ago and I can honestly say whenever I was struggling with making a decision (do I take this assignment or client, even though the work isn’t paying me the rate I deserve?) or needed a reminder of what I was focusing on, my word of the year helped me.
These last couple of years have also felt non-stop. Work has been (gratefully) very busy. The kids have gotten to an age where there is an increase in school workload and their afterschool activities and friends are keeping them on the go. This year, after taking classes at a local rock climbing gym, they both made the youth team which means more and longer visits to the gym as well as traveling out of state to compete.
All of this has been good, but also exhausting. This summer I started up my kickboxing after a long hiatus due to lower back pain. It felt great and then I ended up with back pain again because of the time I spent sitting in front of my computer working. Sitting for long stretches is really stupid, I knew it, and I paid the price (again). I invested in a standing computer desk, started slowly going back to the gym (no kickboxing for now) and working to get my back stronger again.
A Reminder of What’s At Stake
Another reason for choosing CALM as my word of the year is because so much has happened and was so busy throughout these last few years I sometimes lost track of what was important or at stake. I don’t want to be busy. I want to be more mindful of the kind of work I’m doing, producing and delivering. I want to do more work that matters. Who doesn’t, right? This month I want to put my plan in place so I can go after those kinds of projects and clients.
My 2019 Client, Writing and Project Wish List
Art, architecture and design; food, especially cheese; Chicago, Cyprus, food justice; global issues; homelessness, LGBTQ youth, mental health; non-profits (including foundations); refugees and immigrants; social justice; science, sustainability and the environment (including nature and the outdoors); teaching; travel; women’s rights; writing. In alphabetical order, these are the topics and issues that matter to me. It’s a pretty intense list but it’s also exhaustive.
Going through this exercise, of really identifying the work you want to be doing, or the kinds of things that are important to you, helps you focus on achieving it. Several of my friends and I have been having these kinds of discussions because we’re all in positions where we learn of opportunities that may not be right for us, or don’t have the time to take on, but can recommend someone in our circle of friends.
Can you share your list with others to help you meet your goals in the new year? What can you begin doing this month to help you jump-start the process?
This year has brought so many opportunities my way. Some good, some interesting, some that didn’t turn out the way I thought they would. The great thing about using December as a year-in-review is that I can take stock of it all and re-consider what things to keep in my life, which I need to pitch or pursue, and what I need to let go so I can free up my time and mental space. Writing this blog post has helped me realize I’ve come to a decision about a project that has been taking up way more of my work time for the benefit I’m receiving, both financially and professionally.
With four more weeks to go, I intend to soak up every last minute of 2018. The final projects of the year are on my calendar and I’m checking them off my check-list with glee. I’ve already filed some stories and completed projects with payments scheduled to hit in January and February, so that makes me happy. New journals and pens have arrived last week and I intend to put them to good use this month as I plot out my business and marketing plans.
There are still plenty of unknowns as I enter 2019, my 12th year of my consulting practice and 25th year as a communications professional. Some clients have changed directions. Media outlets have shut down or changed editors. My byline will appear in a national consumer print magazine that has been on my wish list for years this April.
Invite calm. Calm down. Be calm. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that things can change by the minute, literally and figuratively. Sometimes those changes are good. Sometimes not good. Regardless, changes will happen and it’s up to us to determine how to handle them and move forward. I’m ready to welcome 2019. First, let’s do this, December.