Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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My Word for 2017

vertical-logo-w-taglinelargeThis year’s word was easy, peasy! I saw it coming from miles—actually, months—away, and I’ve been very excited to share it with you. But it took way more prep work than usual.

The word, you ask? SIGNIFY.

And that is because it’s my new business name! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I left my full-time job last May to start my own company. Now, I serve cause-focused organizations through writing, consulting and strategy. I want to help these purpose-driven companies improve their marketing and business communications so they can focus and shine. And I especially love helping small businesses get noticed and grow. You can read more about the background of my business here.

Since I’ve been practicing a word for the year tradition for a number of years, I used the same criteria to choose my business name: I like single words with multiple meanings in the form of a verb. It took me several months to figure out my organization’s name, but I’m very happy with it. And the website just launched yesterday, which is the prep work I mentioned. It’s been quite the adventure so far, and I’m sure that will continue!

So, basically, even though I had this business the latter half of 2016, this means that 2017 will be focused on getting this business off the ground and running. I have been very blessed to have spent the first seven months working for friends, and that sustained me. But I knew that wasn’t realistic for the long-haul, so that meant building a website and all the bells and whistles that came with it.

My verse for the year is one I hold very near to my heart. It’s one that continues to inspire me, has influenced my business, and especially seems like a good motto to live by these days.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

There you go! That’s it. My word for the year. As always, I can’t wait to see what the year has in store, and how I’ll view it through the lens of SIGNIFY.

You can read about last year’s word, RENEW, right here, if you’d like.

Did you choose a word for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear it!

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If you’re new to this whole word for the year thing, it is basically a way to take a proactive stance to the year. Instead of just arriving in December and taking stock of what happened, having a word of the year is a way to be proactive. We all have goals, wishes and hopes for our year, and sometimes those happen, and sometimes life gets in the way. Having a word for the year helps me to be intentional with my days and my time, and sometimes it also helps me make decisions that help to define outcomes. It’s a practice that some of my friends and I have done for probably almost 10 years now, and it is always a highlight of my year, especially when we’re able to discuss them together.

If you haven’t done this before, and want a little more guidance, here are a couple of resources to help you out:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a joyful and productive 2017!

 

(Amazon links are affiliate links.)


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My Second Annual Personal Retreat: Parts 1-3

fullsizerender-14If this post had a subtitle, it would be something like, “A Solopreneur’s Guide to Flexibility.” Like many of you, I had big plans for the New Year, and also for my second annual personal retreat. Plan A was to head to Tennessee to hang out with some of my best friends to ring in 2017. After leaving there, I was going to head to a hotel somewhere between my house and theirs to hole up for a few days to enjoy my retreat. I did this for the first time last year because I wanted dedicated time away from my house to plan and dream for the year ahead, especially for my business. I had another big list of tasks to accomplish, articles and posts to read, homework from my business coach, 2017 planning to do, and of course, a bit of relaxing needed to be thrown in.

PART 1:

But if there is any lesson you’re doomed to repeat as a self-employed entrepreneur, it’s one in flexibility. About two weeks prior to New Year’s, my friends needed to cancel. It was a good reason, but I was disappointed and so were they. So, I decided to move up my personal retreat to New Year’s Eve. But, no problem, Plan B kicked in. #flexible

Then I got another call.

I thought the first week of January was going to be really slow, and I was okay with that so I’d have plenty of time for my retreat and to finish up any additional items upon returning home. But my contact at my largest client called to say that he’d just accepted a new job, his two weeks notice had been turned in that morning, and we needed to finish our current project within that timeframe—which wasn’t originally due until March.

Hello, Plan C. Now it was two days until New Year’s Eve. So, I decided to cut the retreat down to one night since I’d be working hard over the weekend on my retreat, and needed to jump into client work first thing Monday morning. Additionally, due to this hiccup and the fact that I’d just be returning from Christmas travel as well, I decided to stick super close to home. Technically, I can do my work from just about anywhere, but I didn’t want to use a bunch of hotel points on a local hotel, especially if I wasn’t even going to be doing my own planning.

Ok, so I found a place that looked great, was close by, and had a kitchen so I could bring groceries to cut down on food costs. #budget So, now New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were now officially planned! Additionally, to add some of the relaxation element, I made the decision to kick off my retreat with Rogue One.

So, I went to the movie (which was fun!), packed up, and headed to the hotel. And then plans fell apart again . . . womp womp. I did manage to get a few things done, but way less than I thought, and as the day went on I felt progressively worse. Then I discovered that while my kitchen looked adequate, it didn’t have an oven despite saying it had a full kitchen. And, you guessed it, my Trader Joe’s appetizers needed to be cooked in the oven and not by microwave or stovetop. So, because I wasn’t feeling well, I ordered room service rather than going out to pick something up—which was terrible. Therefore my big New Year’s Eve plans included sickness, a tasteless hamburger, and flipping between bad countdown shows. Ah, the glamorous life of an entrepreneur! But before I checked out, though, I eat get a fairly good (and free) breakfast buffet, and managed to check a big planning item off my list. So, I put the rest of my personal retreat on hold . . . because it’s mine and I can do that. And since I was feeling better, I decided to bookend the retreat with a movie, La La Land.

Just a couple of days later, my friend Katie came into town, and we got a group of girls together for brunch. I was feeling much better, so this was a welcome respite and mental break to some of the crazy that just happened.

PART 2:

I’d been emailing a bit with my aforementioned Tennessee friends, Daron and Margaret, and found out they had a long weekend for MLK Jr Day. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue my retreat now that the client work was finished, and I was originally supposed to start my retreat with them anyway! Plans made. Bags packed. Headed north. This was a great weekend! On the way to their house, I was able to meet up with two other friends, Amy and Rhonda, one of which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Awesome start!

Then Saturday and Sunday were spent entirely with Daron, Margaret and their boys. It was fantastic to catch up with them, and see how much the boys have grown (4-years-old, and 2-years-old)! And Saturday night, they hired a babysitter, so just the three of us had great, quality time out on the town. We shared our words for the year (coming soon!), and oh so much more. The three of us always have great conversations, and it was a real life-giving experience, which we all needed. Sunday was mostly about relaxing, which was also needed by all of us.

Monday morning on my way out of town, I met another friend, Jana, for brunch in Nashville that I hadn’t seen in a year or so. Again, more great conversation. We even ran into a friend from our old church, so that was a fun surprise as well. So, overall, it was just an amazing weekend of nothing special and everything special, all at the same time. It put the “treat” in retreat. 🙂

PART 3:

This past week was full of completely unexpected gifts, which is why I’m considering it an extension of my planned retreat. It was already going to be a short week due to MLK Jr Day and returning from Tennessee. But it was packed full of goodness!

I did manage to get some work and planning done on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday night I had dinner with my friend Michelle, and our other friend, Rocio, whom neither of us had seen in years while she lived in Indonesia. Lots of laughing was involved!

Thursday, I attended an anti-trafficking conference put on by a local organization, which involved speakers from the FBI, Homeland Security, and other non-governmental orgs. (Notes coming soon.) While this may not sound very retreat-ish to you, it was for me. My mom once asked me how I could handle being around the terrible stats and stories that came with increased knowledge about trafficking and slavery. It is awful. But I told her, and still believe, that is how I know I’m called to it. Ever since I first heard about this issue in 2006, it has rooted itself deeply into my heart. So, while there is a lot of horrible-ness to it, I loved hearing success stories, being informed of laws are making it tougher for perpetrators (especially in Georgia), and meeting those on the front lines of this work. It was a great event.

Thursday night, my friend, Jen, and I attended a local networking event. These kinds of things aren’t usually our scene, for many of the same reasons you’d probably list, but Jen’s friend told her these are really low key and not insane or competitive. And she was right. This chapter nearby is just getting started, so there were only a handful of us at a local coffee shop, and we were able to hear from and encourage each other in our different work. It was nice.

Friday included my monthly chiropractic and massage appointment, so enough said there. Great way to end the week. And Friday night, another friend, Katrell, was in town, so I had dinner with her and our other friend, Stephanie. This included meeting Stephanie’s new baby, which was fun! He’s a keeper. Katrell and Stephanie are the friends I went to India with in 2015, and it’s been a few months since I’ve seen them. More good conversation, some baby talk, and figuring out what 2017 looks like for us. Of course, like many of you, most of my conversations have been focused on that topic over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, this also included an update that one of the girls in Katrell’s program has recently been tricked by her family and sold into marriage in India. It’s heartbreaking, and we are all hoping it doesn’t turn into a trafficking situation, which it easily could. We’re trying to get more information about the situation that’s going on thousands of miles away. Lots of praying there.

This morning I had coffee with Jen again, and was introduced to another freelancer, Robert. It was a time to meet in person, learn what projects we were all working on, and if there are ways to connect and encourage each other. I also stayed a few hours to catch up on the mound of emails in both my business and personal inbox that have been piling up over the past week. The rest of the day has pretty much involved catching up on Hulu and napping!

CONCLUSION:

So, despite some ups and downs, I had a very interesting personal retreat, and in some ways a very long one! It has also made for a super interesting January, and who knows where the year will go from here.

But there are a few things I am reminded of:

  1. Personal retreats are well worth the effort.
  2. I have amazing friends who keep me sane.
  3. Businesses are built on who you know.
  4. Flexibility is key!

I hope this encourages you to take a personal retreat! It may look very similar, or very different, for you, but the investment will pay off. I’m already looking forward to my next one! 😉

And if you’ve done one, let me know how it is or offer suggestions!

 


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Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 to you! Before I move on to this next year, I’m taking a moment to look back at the past 12 months. Here are just a few of my highlights!

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RENEW: 2016 in Review

0srgmqwaxz0-wayne_ooone-wangWhew—What. A. Year. It’s been a crazy one, but mostly in good ways!

If you recall, my word for 2016 was RENEW. It came to me instantly, and was a breath of fresh air. I was really looking forward to this year because I couldn’t wait to see what these months would hold in the face of such mental exhaustion just one year ago. And it didn’t disappoint!

The first few months of 2016 were all about setting up to leave my job well. I had a date in mind when January began, but I had a lot of work to do in the meantime. Not only did I have several events to manage with my job, but I also wanted to put more systems in place to make it easier on my replacement. And I think I did a good job on both. I still have great relationships with my old co-workers, and love the mission of the company, so I wanted to make sure things were taken care of. It wasn’t just about not burning a bridge; it was about being someone of integrity.

I left at the end of May, and took most of June off. It was a very welcome respite! Of course, I would’ve loved to have a six-month vacation, but finances just didn’t allow. So, I enjoyed every moment of the down time mostly by sleeping, binge-watching TV shows and catching up with friends. It was glorious, and I look forward to my next extended vacation!

July was my official first month. I’d already been working on a freelance project, actually my first to sign on after I announced self-employment, but this is where I kicked in high gear. And several people had also already told me they’d like to work with me when I made the leap, so I reached out and was soon consumed with work! July was actually my most lucrative month.

From August through December, I’ve had steady work as well. Some months were, of course, better than others, but I knew that would be the case. It takes time to grow a client base. However, I’ve been extremely blessed to work so far solely with people I know first-hand and referrals. In the less busy months, I’ve worked on my own website and branding, and am excited to show that to you in a couple of weeks! There were also plenty of admin tasks to keep me busy. I also just hired a business coach, and have enjoyed that process. It’s quite challenging, but it will help set me up strong for 2017.

So, that’s the business side of things.

On the more touchy-feeling aspects of life, those have improved as well. I’ve seen additional improvement in my health now that I sleep more and work less, and am not wasting as much energy on brushing my hair and getting dressed most days! I do miss my long commute for the purpose of listening to audiobooks, but I’m learning to enjoy podcasts more now.

And the mental exhaustion is sooooo much better. I still have stress, obviously, because who doesn’t, but it’s different. It’s self-imposed now. I really dislike bookkeeping and HR duties, but the tradeoff still can’t be beat. I also love being my own boss, and the flexibility in my job.

I was also able to travel a good bit this year, and you know I loved that! As before, conferences made up a good bit of my travel schedule. But I wouldn’t really have it any other way. My biggest travel milestone also came this year when I took my first solo international trip to Barcelona! It was a place I’d wanted to visit since I was in high school, and it was fantastic! I hope to go back one day.

On my Barcelona trip, I turned 40! Another milestone. Wow—so hard to believe! I think I handled it well, but it’s still rough looking back to see the things I would’ve changed. I think that’s human, though. The hardest part, which has been mostly out of my control, is knowing I have had health challenges since I was 35. I spent the entire latter half of my 30s sick. That’s not fun at all, and it makes me really sad to see how much time has passed. I’ve still been able to do some incredible things over the past few years, but it definitely held me back in a lot of ways. All I can do is look forward, though, and make the days to come count. I’m holding on to RENEW for a little longer.

Like many of you, there are goals that I didn’t hit. There are things I wish I’d done better, or done at all. There are things I regret. There are short-comings and wishes and plenty of what if’s. But tomorrow, God willing, we all get another chance to try again. I just watched Finding Dory on my last plane ride, so when things get though, I’ll “just keep swimming.”

I’m mostly quite happy with RENEW. It has served me well, and taught me a lot. And really, that’s exactly what a word for the year should do!

I’ve already got my word for 2017, and I’ll share it soon! Until then, be thinking of yours!


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My 2016 Reading List Recap

pexels-photo-46274If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably realize how important acquiring knowledge is to me. I love learning! And up until June, I did most of that through Audible books on my commute. However, now that I work from home, I didn’t make it through as many books as I normally would during a year. That was probably the only bummer about losing my commute. But I made a big attempt during the first half of the year to compensate, and I’ll certainly squeeze in another one or two during my holiday travels.

Here’s my recap:

If you need more suggestions, here are my previous lists:

And if you’re in a short or no commute situation like me, but you still want to learn, try podcasts. I began substituting more podcasts for books since they are shorter, but still convey a lot of information. Here are the ones that top my list:

Interested in trying Audible? Click the image below.

*30 days of membership free, plus two free audiobooks to keep.
*1 credit a month after trial, good for any book regardless of price.
*Exclusive members savings. Get 30% off any additional audiobooks.
*Easy exchanges. Don’t love a book? Swap it for free, anytime. Seriously.

HAPPY LEARNING!

(Note: Amazon/Audible links are affiliate links.)