Category Archives: writing & living by words

My Word for 2017 – Self-Care

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“One word can change everything.” OneWord365.com

Every year since 2012, instead of making resolutions, I’ve chosen a word of the year. Unlike resolutions, I actually remember my word and I make progress because of it. So far, my words have been …

2012 – Incremental
2013 – Ponder
2014 – Content
2015 – Revise & Momentum
2016 – Love

I panic near the end of the year and try to force a word into Word of the Year if I haven’t yet figured out one or if one hasn’t “found” me, which is usually how it works. Sometimes a word shows up so many times, I can’t ignore it. Or I hear it in a song and it sounds like the only word being sung. Or it shows up in a meaningful quote or sermon or passage from a book.

By mid-December, I tried to coerce myself into choosing one of these words: laughter, reassurance, freedom. “Reassurance” almost made the cut, until the shower at my daughter’s house (I’d spent the night at her home after babysitting my grandkids) when “self-care” popped into my head. I do my best thinking on walks and in the shower. In November, I began a 10-session online course on the topic of self-care, so I’m guessing the word was lying in wait.

While dressing, I asked my daughter, who, by the way, knew nothing about the course, “If you picked any word for me in 2017, what would it be?”

“Self-care,” she said after she thought for about three seconds.

I squealed.

“That settles it. Self-care is my word,” I said.

Yep, that’s how it usually works for me.

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Last year, I started another practice based on Word of the Year – I put up cover photos on Facebook that only related to my word for 2016, which was love, so I posted lots of Love-ly hearts. I’ll do the same this year except the images will be about self-care. Today’s cover photo seemed a good way to start off 2017’s self-care. It’s a poster of a bathtub with the saying, “Happiness is a long hot bubble bath. Relax. Recharge. Renew.”

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Since Word of the Year is turning into quite the project for me, I’m adding a hashtag for 2017 in addition to the two I already regularly use, #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt. This year’s highlight is #selfcaringin2017 because women need all the help and hashtags we can get when it comes to living our lives and taking care of ourselves.

Have you chosen a word for 2017? If so, let us know what it is. I’ll be happy to share “self-care” with anyone who wants to join me for a whole year of taking care of us. I plan to blog about it often.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com

Thanks for the suggestion about a hashtag in 2017, Jenine.

Thanks for the course, Lucille.

 

Click the link if you’re interested in signing up for the 10-session work-at-your-own-pace course I mentioned above for only $59, Renaissance U: Lessons on Selfcare taught by a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Friend Lucille Zimmerman, instructor of the course, covers self-care topics including The Fine Art of Solitude, The Fine Art of Boundaries, and The Fine Art of Play. Lucille is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, Colorado. She’s an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University. She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World.

 

 

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What’s Wrong with Me?

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“Don’t let yourself bring you down.” Unknown

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

I say this too often. I repeat it again and again when, truth be told, I do know what’s wrong with me. And I know how to fix it, but I don’t do it. And that’s what’s wrong – I let myself down.

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Instead of admitting I’m avoiding the top priority on my to-do list, I’ll blame my husband, my kids, the dog, and even someone on Facebook where I’m spending too much time. I’ll blame my mental state, my age, my weight, and my mother. If you show up at my house unexpected, I’ll blame you.

By now, I should recognize the warning signs in the form of destructive habits, but usually I don’t until I get to the final stage of “I let myself down.”

My bad habits include having trouble settling down for bed, a restless night’s sleep, and hitting the snooze button a dozen times the next morning. Napping for two hours instead of 30 minutes. Feeling frustrated and acting on it. Eating chocolate late at night and pacing around during the day without accomplishing much. Scrolling Facebook for hours. Yeah, it’s a long list. Skipping the gym and most anything else that’s good for me, so I can focus on how to fix what’s wrong. Makes sense, huh? It’s not until I’m feeling anxious, insecure, and near tears (the final stage of “I let myself down”) that I’ll admit I’m letting myself down.

My choices narrow to either confessing and fixing it by doing what I’m supposed to be doing or melting down over and over.

I get more afraid by the minute when I’m in the middle of the cycle. It happened last week when I didn’t write a post for my blog. Instead of writing, which is my important thing, I did everything else on my list and then some, all the while dragging my anxiety about not writing through the weekend and into the beginning of this week.

If I’d keep track of my fearful episodes, I’d likely notice they flare up during my “I let myself down” times more so than during the times when I’m getting my own life, even if the latter is scary stuff like writing on a personal topic that makes me uncomfortable or making a video to post online.

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A simple example that’s helping me change how I align my days is to follow how I reach my daily Fitbit goal, which is 10,000 steps. When I’m up by 8 and accomplish my steps by noon, it’s easy to get 15,000 or even 20,000 steps by bedtime, and I sleep better. However, on the days I only accumulate 5,000 steps by mid-afternoon, getting that same amount again before the day’s end feels nearly impossible. I give up after dinner and fall asleep on the couch.

I’m guessing there’s a universal law out there that makes this all make sense. The same law that helps create a productive and “feel good” day also has the potential to make my next 24 hours miserable when I don’t do what I’m supposed to do. Unless I figure out a way to sidestep it, I’m left with the same solution I wrote in a blog post six years ago.

Brian Tracy, in his book Eat That Frog!, offers 21 ways to stop procrastinating and accomplish more in less time. He suggests planning each day in advance. He says stop doing so much and do what’s important. And get this, Tracy recommends following the 80/20 Rule, similar to my Fitbit phenomenon. He says there are typically two items on a list of 10 that will account for 80 percent of the day’s results. Tackle those two things first and the rest of our list will either be accomplished easily and quickly or show up for what it really is, insignificant.

I sometimes pretend I don’t know what my important thing is, or that if I accomplish the other eight or nine things on my list, I’ll be more settled, prepared, and focused to undertake the important thing. Instead, I’m tired and put it off until tomorrow or next week, like this blog post.

Another game I play is tricking myself into thinking something else is more important than the important thing. In my case, it’s hard to overlook, though, since I only have one important thing on my to-do list. It is writing.

Today, I did my important thing and wrote this post. I can’t adequately describe how relieved I feel as I wind down this day and this story, so I’ll put out a call to action in case someone else wants to experience it for themselves.

If you’re wrangled up in life and struggling with your emotions, and most likely letting yourself down, put all of that to one side and do the one or two important things on your list. Take a chance on it working for you like it did for me this afternoon. I hope you’ll share it with us when it does. #GettingYourOwnLife

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the first two images, Pixabay.
Thanks for the motivation, Fitbit.

My Word for 2016 – Love

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“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball

Every year since 2012, instead of resolutions I don’t keep, I’ve chosen a word for the year to help reach goals that I may or may not have written down. Sometimes what I want to accomplish is just a thought. I’ve found help making these wishes come true by focusing on my word for the year. Other times, what I wanted to accomplish was a longtime goal written years ago that finally came to pass because of practicing that year’s word.

My words so far have been:
2012   Incremental
2013   Ponder
2014   Content (meaning both satisfied and subject matter)
2015   Revise and Momentum (I chose two words, but it took all year to revise.)

A couple of years in a row, I said my word chose me. This year, my word was chosen for me. For fun, I clicked on en.nametests.com: What is your word for 2016?, not intending to stick with it.

I never would have chosen “Love.” After being assigned it like a school child, I reasoned with a friend why I needed to change my word, “It’s kind of generic. I mean, we all love. I was hoping for a word more meaningful to what’s going on in my life or a word more focused on my writing.”

I hoped for the same thing in 2013 when I ended up with “ponder.” I tried to come up with a more active word, but nothing stuck, so I ended up sitting around all year and thinking. As you probably already guessed, pondering is exactly how that year needed to spent.

Anyhow, I returned six times to the en.nametests.com link, trying to come up with something more fitting than Love, all the while suspecting my word for 2016 had been decided. I’m not sure why I fight my words, but it’s gotten to be a New Year’s tradition.

My husband and I have already begun working towards making our home life emotionally safer, more accepting, and kinder. In other words, we want our home and our relationship to feel more loving. Of course, we love each other, but sometimes in the midst of past hurts and resentments, stress in our daily lives, and the fact that it’s easy to take out frustrations on each other, love isn’t as evident as we’d like it to be.

What is evident, though, is that I don’t love my own life. Most of my frustration comes from starting one of the 11 projects I convince myself has to be done before doing what I want to do and what I think God wants me to do, which is to write about relationships. It’s anything but love (even if it’s a project for someone else) when I put aside my passion and disregard God’s purpose for my life.

All the other relationships in my life, the ones beyond my marriage, would also benefit from me learning how to love while getting on with my own life. This has been a recurring predicament over the years, one that I’m finally making my blog’s focus – how to love and write about it.

The more I think about what a writer friend recently told me about focusing my blog on relationships, the more I recognize Love perfectly fits my life and my writing for 2016. She said, “I’ve noticed you get the most comments on your relationship posts. They are also the ones you write about most passionately.”

So, the fight is over. Love is my word for 2016. I’m looking forward to learning how to love the people around me while writing about us.

I’d like to hear from you about your Word for 2016 – what it is and how you chose it (or how it chose you). For more info on the concept and on choosing a word, check out MyOneWord.org.

In Joy,
Kim

Write Along Beside Me (a long post about getting started)

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(Image from Edie Melson)

(Image from Edie Melson)

“How’d you get started with your writing? And how’d you get published?”

I finally decided to blog about my writing detour since I’ve been asked these questions so many times.

A lot of people write, so I’m not unusual in that regard. A lot of people get published, so I’m not unusual there either. I am a little unusual, however, in that I’ve been published sans a degree in English or journalism and without initially knowing anyone in the writing industry.

Getting published is challenging enough with a degree and with connections, so, without either one, how’d it come about?

God’s been all over it, of course, but that’s not what people are asking about. Most of us know we don’t accomplish anything without him by our side. The fact is, though, for writing and publication to happen, we have to be all over it too.

I never intended to be a writer. I intended to open my own counseling practice. It wasn’t until a friend talked me out of my plan that I changed direction. She said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to sit all day in an office and listen to others’ problems.”

Here’s what she didn’t say, but probably wanted to, “You have enough problems of your own. Don’t be a counselor.”

Around that same time, two things were going on.

The first: I was studying Experiencing God, a Bible study about paying attention to where God’s working in our lives.

The second: It didn’t matter where I was, who I was talking with, or what we were talking about, family, friends, and strangers would out-of-the-blue say, “You should write about that.”

So, I did.

I wrote a book about raising teenagers. I was sure readers wanted to get their hands on a poorly written account of drama, bragging, and preaching. I didn’t get ahold of my writing or myself until a neighbor volunteered to read the 100-page manuscript. She returned it with tire marks on the pages because the day she picked it up, she drove off with it on the back of her car and it blew all over the highway. She handed it to me, apologized about the dirty pages, and said, “I let a writer friend look over it. She said you might want to swim in a pool before you try the ocean. You know, maybe write for magazines and newspapers before you try for a book, but I really like the quotes you included.”

In that moment, I felt determined to learn the craft of writing. I thought, “I’ll show her.”

The problem is, it’s a long, laborious process to proving someone wrong when it comes to writing right. Or should that read “writing well”? Anyway, it took time, but I eventually progressed from misguided motivation and showed up to do what I thought God had in mind all along. He flung open the doors. I’ve written hundreds of articles and blog posts that have been published in dozens of local, regional, and national publications. I’ve also had the opportunity to ghostwrite for local, regional, and international personalities.

Your story will be different, but all writing requires much of the same footwork. Hopefully this encourages you to show up and do the hard (and very rewarding) work of writing for yourself, for God, and for readers who need to hear your stories.

Here’s a little about my story and some bullet points to go along with it.

I drove to Greenville, S.C. to attend my first writing workshop about writing and illustrating children’s books. I had written a book for children some years earlier as part of an assignment for a counseling class. Since a friend took the time to forward the information about the event, I imagined it was a sign that the book would arouse attention. Instead of a book contract, I ended up with a flyer about classes on newspaper and magazine writing (you know, poolside writing before the ocean). The instructor was an editor in Greenville who had written for major publications like the New York Times.

For six weeks, I drove four and a half hours one-way to learn how to write right. The editor/instructor announced she needed freelance writers for three regional newspapers. When she didn’t publish me before Christmas, I signed up for six more classes. The second time around, not only did she publish my first article, she assigned me a column in all three papers, and hooked me up with other publications in Upstate S.C.

“There are two kinds of writers – writers who are bad and writers who keep learning,” she said. Here’s a list of things I do to avoid falling prey to “bad writer.”

  • Attend classes, conferences, and workshops. Last year, I returned to Greenville for another six-week class.
  • Find a mentor. I paid for critiques, as well as insider tips about being accepted by publications like LifeWay, from a well-known writer who presented at a conference I attended.
  • Blog regularly. Okay, so I blog irregularly, but do as I say.
  • Sign up for writing sites that post jobs daily. Continue to submit writing samples and clips for assignments that fit my writing style and my interests.
  • Familiarize myself with magazines and submit writing samples for publication.
  • Read inspirational books like The Artist’s Way and informational ones like The Associated Press Stylebook. Read blogs about writing, social networking, marketing, and sound business practices by people like Michael Hyatt, Rachelle Gardner, Steve Laube, and Edie Melson.
  • Connect with other writers, mostly online and in critique groups, but also in local networking groups, workshops, and at conferences.
  • Drive to Wilmington, N.C. to meet with a critique group for information, improvement, and encouragement. I cherish, instead of challenge, their feedback, then I return home and edit. My editor/instructor reminded us again and again, “Writing is rewriting.”
  • Write and submit stories. Sounds obvious, right? I can’t tell you how many writer friends I talk with who either aren’t writing or have never submitted a story. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I was a writer when I wasn’t writing.
  • I sometimes drag myself out of my comfort zone and write something that makes me uncomfortable.

Are you up for an encounter with writing?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – If so, get ready for a beautiful, frustrating, gratifying, scary, procrastinating, delightful, angering, exhilarating, disheartening, uplifting, and life-changing experience that I wouldn’t trade for any other career. I’d love to hear about your experience on paper.

On the side: A great read about writing right, The Difference Between Good Writers and Bad Writers by Jeff Goins.

Fix Your Face, part 1 (and maybe the only part)

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"Every man over forty is responsible for his face." Abraham Lincoln (Image from iStock)

“Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”
Abraham Lincoln
(Image from iStock)

“You better fix your face, young man, and you better fix it now,” said Mom to her son who looked to be about four years old.

I turned from the clothes rack where I was shopping to see a little boy shuffling behind his mother. He pulled his hood over his head, crossed his arms, and pouted out his lips like I do mine when life isn’t going my way.

His face tickled me and so did his mom’s orders. But I also understood his pain, especially when his mother threatened to take away the next day’s fun activities. Her warning reminded me of the pity trap I fall into when my own face needs fixing, but I’d rather feel sorry for myself.

The little boy’s scene looked a lot like God and me when I talked with him last October about relocating closer to our kids and our first grandbaby. Circumstances made it obvious the answer was “no.”  

I pouted. I cried. I accused God of taking away my fun.

The scene also looked similar to the day, just a few weeks later, when I heard the news that our son and future daughter-in-law were moving for two years to Oklahoma City.

Again I pouted. Again I cried.  Again I accused God of taking away my fun.

And when __________  (I can fill in the blank with any number of situations when God’s will hasn’t aligned with my own, and I’ve pouted and I’ve cried and I’ve accused).

But those times are a changin’ because I am a changin’. I’m fixing my face and I’m fixing it now.

Here is my “powder room” list:

  • I’m practicing being satisfied with God’s answers in light of choosing “content” as my word for 2014, knowing that he always knows best. Yes, always … trust me, I’m going on 56 years of hindsight.
  • I’m recapturing my faith. Thanks to friend, Lis Morgan, and her word “recapture,” I’m focusing on and praying for the restoration of the faith that I once lived by (but lost) for at least a portion of those 56 years.
  • I’m saying grateful things more than griping, and I’m again daily making a 13-item gratitude list.

Does your face need fixing? Are you fixing it now? Care to share tips from your “powder room”?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I believe the quote from Abe Lincoln and I’m working on my makeover now.

My Word for 2014 – Content

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But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Even though I wasn’t especially content with it, a sermon about equations hit a nerve so deep that I was convinced my word for 2014 had to be contentment.

Instead of making resolutions, I choose to focus throughout the year on one word.

In 2012, my word was incremental. Living incrementally changed my life. I broke down big tasks and overwhelming emotions into manageable proportions. It was a more productive year than I thought possible.

Last year, in 2013, I ended up with the word ponder, almost like it chose me. I’m still pondering why. Because of that word, I sat still more than I wanted to and kept my mouth shut more than I wanted to and waited for results more than I wanted to, which led to my concern over this year’s word.

Contentment (shortened to content, which I’ll explain next) could easily have turned out the same as ponder – unwanted. It’s again not a get-up-and-go word, but another that sounds like a call to be still. I have no idea how to practice it unless I purchase a mountaintop and some chants. Plus, not one person has said, “Oooh, that’s a good word for this year.” In fact, I called it boring until a friend convinced me it was my perfect word.

My friend said that if I shorten contentment to content, it has two significant meanings … to be content (as in being right where I’m supposed to be and grateful about it) and to produce content (as in finishing the book I’ve talked about for a decade).

“Hopefully you won’t be content until you write more than your table of contents,” she said.

What’s your word for 2014? Are you happy about it or stuck with it? Sometimes the latter is a good thing.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Throughout 2014, my aim is to be content enough to sit still and write content.

On the side: Thank you, Nancy. Not in a million years would I have come up with the double meaning of content, not for my word anyway.

The Answer Was Write2Ignite (a conference for writers of literature for children and young adults)

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“Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer.” Oswald Chambers

“Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer.” Oswald Chambers

It was after midnight when I saw the post on my Facebook wall asking if I planned to sign up for Write2Ignite.

The message was from someone I didn’t know asking if I planned to attend a conference I’d never heard of, one for writers of literature for children and young adults.

There was no way my new writer friend, who found me through a mutual writer friend, had any idea how much I needed her invitation.

I wondered often if writing for children was a project to pursue, or if I was interested only because I thought it’d be faster than writing chapter after chapter of an adult book.

Maybe it was a distraction from what I was really meant to do.

Maybe I thought it’d be easy. Funny, I know. Writing children’s books is hard work.

Before I responded, I researched the conference and its 2012 presenters. Included in the lineup were representatives from Focus on the Family, Hartline Literary Agency, and JourneyForth Books. I read workshop titles right up my alley like “Make Your Manuscript Stand Out!” and “The Language of Children’s Picture Books.”

When I saw the conference was being held where my adult children live, just outside Greenville, South Carolina, and I knew I could stay with one of them, I was pretty sure my attendance was meant to be.

I was also pretty sure Write2Ignite was the answer to my prayer “What next?”  

The Write2Ignite Team continued to accept scholarship applications, good news since my husband and I were writing checks for our daughter’s fall wedding. I wasn’t sure I could justify the cost of a writing conference in the midst of wedding expenses. I applied and heard back in less than two weeks.

I was appreciative for confirmation that came in the form of a full scholarship from author Cecil Murphey. 

If only all prayers were answered in the same ways: quick, crystal clear and with delightful results. 

The conference was better than I imagined. The campus where we met was attractive and manicured, meeting rooms were comfortable, and the food was the best I’ve eaten at a conference. Presenters were professional and knowledgeable, as well as friendly and available.

Best of all, I returned home refreshed and with lots of information and ideas.

What’s the best conference you’ve attended and why? You can name a writing conference, one for self-improvement, managing finances, marketing, etc. I’d love to hear and I’m sure readers would also. 

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Thanks for the opportunity, Write2Ignite Team and Cecil Murphey. The conference was right where I was supposed to be.

My Word for 2013 – Ponder

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“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides.” Artur Schnabel

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.”
Artur Schnabel (Photo by Jeff Watkins)

Another year, another phone conversation with our son.

That’s how my word for 2012 came about; our son said it’d be helpful if I shared information incrementally instead of stockpiling. His request, as well as the word, stuck.

Too bad this year didn’t reap the same results.

He and I talked Sunday evening at length about becoming more disciplined, the perfect action word for 2013. I told him about choosing a word for the year, rather than making resolutions I never keep. He liked the idea and agreed we’d both benefit from self-discipline.

I hoped our talk was a sign to change words. When off the phone, I mentioned to my husband about switching words. He looked skeptical.

“You already have a word for 2013,” he said.  “You didn’t tell him?”

“I didn’t have the heart to share. Mine for this year sounds so, I don’t know, like a couch potato word. Anyway, I’ve pondered enough. I’m ready to get going,” I said.

I wanted a word like create, productive, gumption. Maybe a phrase like “get to work.” Or one like my husband’s – he chose deliberate.

That’s another thing; he got to pick his word. I felt stalked and trapped by the word ponder.

Don’t misunderstand; it’s a favorite of mine. I’ve cherished reading Luke 2:19 (NIV) about Mary pondering the news she was pregnant with Jesus. I mean, the word is perfect for Mary, but it seems a ridiculous one for me considering the productive year I had in mind.

Still, there was no denying how attached I felt when I read it in Christi McGuire’s blog post, “Treasure This Season.”

I gave in and looked up ponder.

Merriam-Webster’s definition is give serious and careful thought to. Synonyms include reflect, meditate, and contemplate. Related words are explore, muse, believe, and conceive.

There you go, my 2013 in a nutshell. I guess there’s hope since explore might allow me off the couch once in a while.

What are your resolutions for 2013? Or maybe you’re also being hounded by a word? Care to share?

Thanks for my one word button from Melanie @ http://www.onlyabreath.com/

Thanks for my One Word button, Melanie @ http://www.onlyabreath.com/

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Artur Schnabel’s quote came to mind as I struggled to write this post and reconcile with a word that is more about stillness than taking my year by storm. I’m trusting as I ponder (like with Artur’s pauses), my art will appear.

On the side: Photography by Jeff Watkins. The model in the photo is Mitch Wallace. Thanks to you both, Jeff and Mitch, for permission to use the photo.

A funny blog post about Carol Anne Wright Swett and her 2013 Word of the Year.

A blog post/haiku about ponder by Sylvia Jones at The Haiku Corner. Sylvia said the haiku was inspired by Well-Written Days. Thank you, Sylvia. You’re the inspirer.

Incremental Living in 2012 (word of the year proved to be a success)

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“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I've done that sort of thing in my life, … ”Steve Jobs

“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, …” Steve Jobs

Choosing incremental as my word for 2012 was one of my year’s better choices. It is time to trust I’ve learned it well enough to move on.

The past four months, I’ve accomplished a single task almost daily from my mental list marked I-don’t-want-to-do-this. I pressed on to finish projects instead of stopping short of my day’s goal. I quit talking about why I struggle to achieve what I set out to do and began accomplishing it.

None of this was as conscious as I’d like, but still, it happened.

In retrospect, three steps helped.

First, I wrote what I wanted to undertake (or what I didn’t want to undertake, but knew I should) on a piece of paper and, instead of writing dozens of run on ideas, I numbered each job as a separate item.

Second, I left white space in between so the list didn’t appear overwhelming. The unmarked area between goals kept me from being tempted to clump together two tasks in one day. I thought about a newspaper editor explaining white space and how it made print appear reader friendly. I’m visual and white space made my list appear doer friendly.

Third, I assured myself I’d deem my time productive if I accomplished one item daily, instead of attempting a flurry of nine or ten and completing none.

Several times I skipped ahead and completed two or three tasks. It was okay to overdo my list as long as I was careful not to dishonor the agreement I made; one accomplishment a day was enough.

My resolution reminded me of the frustration I felt years ago when my husband completed a job. He would do the simplest thing like take down a door that was catching on carpet. He’d cut an inch off the bottom, paint the door, and rehang it, then admire his work and take a nap.

I wondered how he could be happy accomplishing so little. That was, until I noticed he finished 15 projects to my one.

Long to-do lists and long work hours tend to be paralyzing, not productive.

Rachelle Gardner, in her post “Success in 90-Minute Increments” (based on Tony Schwartz’s book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working), encourages what I’ve practiced. It was timely at the end of November to see 2012’s word mentioned in one of her titles. She offers advice for breaking down work into manageable portions.

  • 90 minutes is the optimum high-focus work time; and
  • a maximum of three 90-minute focused periods a day provides for the most productivity.

What’s the final word on your goals and/or your word for the year? Were you successful in 2012 or are you looking forward to putting this year behind you?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – “Never perfect, always better” comes to mind when I think of incremental living. I’m appreciative to all my encouragers. I throve (I like that word) because of your help.

On the side:  Rachelle also shared a link to Schwartz’s article “The 90-Minute Solution: How Building in Periods of Renewal Can Change Your Work and Your Life.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for 2013’s word and be prepared to share yours.

How’s It Going, Incremental? (my word for 2012)

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“There’s a hard work alternative to the magic lottery, one in which you can incrementally lay the groundwork …” Seth Godin

I chose incremental after I told my son, “I’ve never in my life done anything incrementally.”

This year seemed like a good time to start.

Especially after decades of frenzied writing, exercise, organizing closets and cabinets, you name it, followed by nothing – a month or two or three of what our daughter calls the ploms (poor little ‘ole mes).

I’d wear myself out, which is a surefire way to end up feeling sorry for myself, especially when the whirlwind of work doesn’t instantly produce a book deal, the loss of 13 pounds, or a home that’s in perfect order.

I looked forward to the day I’d settle down and practice daily action that adds up to big goals.

Incremental living is turning out to be easier than I thought, probably because I’ve gotten help at every hang-up. God works like that, you know. When we seriously commit to a lifestyle change, he opens floodgates or at least a spigot depending on what we can handle, and change seems possible, even probable.

Jeff Goins’ blog post confirms that when our writing shows up everywhere, it’s more about the habit of writing daily than one post going viral. He walks writers through an incremental series called 15 Habits of Great Writers. It’d be good for anyone who wants to accomplish anything. Just commit an hour of your day for the next two weeks and substitute writing with your art/goal.

Chris Guillebeau offers his book for free, although I’d pay just because of the title, 279 Days to Overnight Success.

Seth Godin’s post about choosing incremental work over magical solutions (like winning the lottery) showed up when I was searching another topic. How gift-like is it that he used the word incremental, almost like it was written for me, except it’s from 2010 so guess not.

Here’s my part, what I’ve done with the information so far.

  • I returned to an exercise routine that includes Zumba, Pilates and walking. My goal is to do at least one of these six days a week. So far, I usually accomplish one at least four times a week.
  • I participated in Jeff Goins’ 15 Habits for Great Writers, and I’ve read everything I linked to in this blog post and more, as well as listening in on two webinars about writing and marketing.
  • I write daily and my goal is to complete a blog post a day so I have a backlog. By the end of the year, I want to have a regular posting schedule.
  • I read daily, something every writer (and everyone else) should do, but previously I was not committed.

My additional goals for 2012 include work and play, to write toward a book, and visit our mountain home once a month.

Did you choose a word for 2012, or maybe a lifestyle change? If so, how’s it going?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Some days I feel like I’m in a circus and juggling lots of plates on sticks. However, incremental living is only accomplished by focusing on one at a time.

On the side: Thanks for the reminder to check on my word, artist Kelly Rae Roberts.