Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


2 Comments

My Word for 2018


jungwoo-hong-100345So, how is it possible that it’s mid-February already! I really can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. And I think there are a few reasons for that, in my case.

The first is that I’ve been a busy, little bee. I had already started setting up for 2018 back in November, and then hard-core in December, so January rolled in like a freight train because it was heavily on my mind. The second is because I’ve been working a lot of hours. This is an intense season for a few reasons, but I also know I can’t keep it up forever, and am already starting to slow down due to the normal wear and tear of life.

But all of the above is due to my word for the year. While last year was momentous because it revolved all around building the foundation of my budding business, this year is the direct result. I mean, Signify wasn’t my word for the year for nothing! (That’s the name of my business, FYI.)

I usually start thinking about my word for the year in November. I think that’s a natural point when we start looking toward the future and how to finish our year well. At that point, I kinda knew the feelings I wanted my word to represent, but didn’t have a name for it yet. That came when I started to really pray about those feelings. And during a prayer, I used this one word, and I stopped in my tracks. THAT was my word! It was a beautiful, little revelation.

So, what was this word?

MOMENTUM.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts about my word for the year, you know I like to use verbs. I like the action-oriented words because they symbolize intentionality for me. And so, while MOMENTUM is actually a noun, it implies action. And I kinda dig that.

February marks my 20th month in business. I consider those first six months, which were actually the last six months of 2016, to be my training wheels. Though I by no means have it all figured out (far from it!), that start gave me a chance to just get used to life as an entrepreneur. It was a good start, but difficult—ask any entrepreneur!

So, last year was all about trying to build a foundation. There was still plenty of “new” last year, but I was (slightly) more comfortable with it. The biggest challenge of last year was when I launched my digital presence, including my website, social media, and weekly blog. That took a lot of getting used to because, while important, none of that paid the bills. It was a lot of extra effort outside client work. But it slowly became a little more manageable.

For the first year of my business, I worked almost exclusively with friends. This was an absolute blessing, and the best way to start! I created Signify to support my friends professionally. After all, I was already supporting them personally, so this was a natural extension. But, of course, I needed to grow.

In the latter half of last year, I started getting more word-of-mouth attention, referrals, and more notice online. It started some new trends in my business, and it was exciting.

And now, I’m just a little further down the road, and I want to keep growing. I need to keep getting my name out there, so that more business keeps coming in. This is especially important because I differ from a lot of other people in my industry for two, main reasons: I like working with small businesses and I like working on projects. Most people are busy searching out big companies and getting retainer clients. Now, I’m not fundamentally opposed to either of those things, but it’s just not my absolute preference. But this means I have to do a lot of hustling to make sure work is coming in the door.

So, this year is all about MOMENTUM. I’ve put some good things in place, but need to extend my reach. And I think this word will help me do that.

However, though Signify is obviously a huge part of my life, it’s not the only reason I chose MOMENTUM. There are some personal habits I’d like to encourage as well.

One of those is my health. I’ve talked extensively on this blog about my chronic health issues, and I made a lot of progress last year. Even though being a solopreneur isn’t exactly stress-free, it’s allowed me to work from home full-time, get more rest, and allow my body to heal. So, I think 2018 will be another huge chapter for improving my health, and of course, that spills into all areas of my life.

Another personal reason that comes to mind is that I’ve been working on my morning routine since December. I have always been a night owl. It’s very hard for me to fall asleep before midnight most nights. But, of course, I also need to be productive in the day. And while it’s true that I can now set my own schedule, most of the world operates during certain hours, and it’s to my advantage to follow that. So, even though I don’t set an alarm now unless I have a morning meeting, I also don’t want to sleep too late. That means going to bed at a decent hour and waking up at a decent hour. In an ideal world, this would be 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. for me. (I require a lot of sleep, and always have.)

So, I’ve been building a more structured morning routine. Currently, it includes four things that take 20 minutes or so: The 5 Minute Journal, reading Jesus Calling, 10 minutes of meditation via my Calm App, and five minutes of yoga (I YouTube several.). I’ve also just started drinking hot, lemon water to start my day, and am enjoying that too. These are all habits I want to continue improving this year as they set the tone for my days.

There are some other personal and professional reasons as well, but in the interest of keeping this blog post a reasonable length, I’ll leave it at those since they are three, primary reasons.

And here’s my verse for the year:

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

MOMENTUM. That’s my word for the year. And it’s got me pretty excited.

Have a word for the year? Tell me! I love hearing how people are being more intentional in their lives. 🙂

———-

Interested in picking your own word for the year, but need some help? Here are some resources that might help:

———-

My previous words for the year:

Advertisements


1 Comment

Signify: Word for the Year Recap

vertical-logo-w-taglinelargeGoodness gracious! How on earth can it be December again already? Why do I feel like the years are speeding up? Anyone else? (If we were speaking in person, my voice would be getting higher right now . . . )

It’s been one crazy year! As always, things happen that you don’t expect. And even when you do expect them, they’re never quite the same as you planned. Can you relate?

2017 marked my first, full year year in business. And I knew that would be my primary focus for the year, so it just made sense that my word for the year was SIGNIFY. I just re-read my announcement post, and I can just read the hopefulness and enthusiasm in my tone. 🙂 I haven’t lost that tone, thank goodness, but it is a little more battle-worn.

The failure rate for startups is a little scary. And 80% don’t make it past five years. As a solopreneur, I can see why—it’s hard! Unless you somehow achieve success and popularity early so you can bring on more people to help you, the wear and tear of running a business by yourself daily isn’t easy. And there are so many decisions to make! There are always more things to do than more time to do them in, and you often feel like you’re pushing a rock up the hill. Actually, I call it being “admined to death” because all of the day-to-day tasks can take every bit of time you have available, and then some.

I achieved some of my goals for the year, but certainly not all of them. The big ones I didn’t meet really stung. I’m a bit of a Type A overachiever, so it’s been hard to work through that, and not let fatigue and comparing myself to others get me down. It definitely did some days. And to be honest, I’m just starting to come back from the brink of burnout.

One of the things I had to do this year was not travel as much. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you can probably guess how hard that was for me. I love to travel, and it’s really life-giving for me. And even though I travel a lot using points by being an amateur travel hacker, little costs here and there do add up. So, I took a step back. Honestly, it was a good financial decision, but hurt me a lot mentally. I wasn’t able to get away, clear my head, and be inspired by new places and people. So, I hope to resume that next year.

SIGNIFY means to represent, to make known, and to be important. So, that’s what I set out to do in 2017. And though I definitely could’ve made improvements, I did accomplish that in some ways.

I chose the name to represent the things my clients and I could do together. I mostly work with small nonprofits and social enterprises, because I love and believe in small business. But many of them can’t afford someone like me on staff full-time, so I’m able to help them with their marketing and communications projects. And through my company, I’m able to help get their message out into the world in a bigger way. I’m able to support their work, and make their mission known to more people. And so, even on a small scale, I have accomplished that goal. I’ve been able to work with old friends and new friends, and on some really cool projects. It’s been a blessing and an honor to help them succeed.

On the personal front, I made some progress too, but I also had some setbacks. After struggling with chronic illness for five an a half years, I had some really good test results in September. My adrenal fatigue moved from a Stage 8 (the worst) to a Stage 4, so that’s awesome. However, my mono has reared it’s ugly head again, making me not feel as good as I should with the healing in my adrenal glands. I’m on a new protocol, and seeing good results, so I’m hopeful that progress will continue. I just have to keep the stress at bay, which as you know, just makes everything worse, including existing health issues.

Additionally, on the personal front, when my energy is higher and I’m feeling better, I’m also able to get in more exercise. I love walking on a trail near my home, and even though I usually listen to business podcasts, it still helps me relax. I also do some good praying out there when I walk. And I’ve also just started doing five-minute yoga sessions in the morning to get my blood pumping and my brain working. There are several on YouTube that I’ve been trying. Obviously, I’d love to scale up to longer routines, but I’m starting with what I know I can do so that I don’t put it off. Plus, I’m not a morning person, so I have to keep it easy.

Speaking of praying, I was able to read Mark for Everyone by Tom Wright again this year, and I really love that whole series. I’m reading Hebrews for Everyone right now. This is a very cool series that lays out the New Testament books in very easy-to-understand language. It’s like an everyman’s commentary. (Check it out, or some of the other books I read this year.)

I’ve also been praying more using affirmations rather than only supplication this year. It’s sort of an idea I pulled from conversations and books. I’m still not really sure how to describe it succinctly yet, but it’s been an interesting process over the past couple of months, and allows me to talk to God in a new way. But I’m talking to him, and that’s the point. He’s constant, but I’m always learning new facets of His personality (thanks to books like Experiencing God), so of course, that’s the best relationship to keep pursuing.

So, that’s kinda my year in a nutshell. Some highs and some lows, just like you. But I try to always live with intention, and that helps shape everything.

I have kind of a concept for my 2018 word for the year, but haven’t pinpointed the exact word yet. But I’ll certainly let you know in the next few weeks.

What about you? How was your year? What was your word (or phrase) for the year, and how did it go?


4 Comments

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!

___________________________________________________

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.)


1 Comment

My First Personal Retreat

me timeI’ve taken several vacations by myself, but New Year’s Day marked my first personal retreat. And it was time. Actually, it was way overdue.

At the end of last year, I was exhausted in every way, and had chosen RENEW as my word/theme for the year. I really wanted to cling to that word, but needed a catalyst to help get me there. So, I used some hotel points to get away. I knew if I stayed home I’d find too many distractions.

Rome, Georgia, ended up being the destination. And I was able to check in early and check out late, to maximize my stay. I had my computer, a few books, and a ready heart. (And, of course, a change of clothes.) I’d already been collecting resources that I wanted to work through, but as I predicted, ending up following a few rabbit trails, too.

My original intent was just to spend the night and fit in all my retreat activities into that 24 hour period. But I was tired and kept stumbling upon new resources so I ended up extending the retreat through the weekend, at home. Being able to focus at the hotel proved to be a great starting point, though. It gave me the energy and determination to keep up the work . . . but there may have been a pedicure and couple Netflix breaks. I mean, come on, we’re talking about 72 hours here. I’m not a monk.

These are the primary resources that I spent time with:

They are awesome, and I’d recommend any of them. They greatly enhanced my retreat, and I believe, came to me at just the right time.

There are also a few (hopefully) regular practices that came out of this weekend, which I believe will help to keep me RENEWed during the year. The first is The Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I hate journaling, but this one was recommended on a podcast I listen to, and it sounded like something I could do. It’s just a couple bullet points to answer each morning and evening, and there is an introduction that shows the reasoning and science behind the questions. So far, even in my most groggy morning state, I’ve been able to keep up.

The second is meditation. I’ve tried it before, and failed miserably. My mind is constantly going 90 miles an hour! But like journaling, I know the benefits and want to reap them. I need to be able to clear my mind and listen in silence. That will do me a world of good. And meditation is one of those things that kept popping up around me in various ways at the end of the year, so I knew it was time to try again. The blog post mentioned above by Rick Warren also speaks in-depth to the practice. (Funny note: I have a book called The Will Power Instinct that I started several years ago. But the first chapter says that you have to be able to meditate for 10 minutes to continue the book in order to get the most out of it—so, yep, I’ve never finished. Maybe this is the year!)

The third is, well, to borrow another Rick Warren-ism, purposeful relaxation. The second half of that blog post was what I actually went online to find, and strangely, it was paired with meditation. I’d heard him speak on the topic before at a conference, and couldn’t remember exactly how it was phrased. I love the way he puts it: divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually. Honestly, it’s going to be hard. I’m a multi-tasker. But for me, one of the best ways to do this is to unplug for a while. I’m usually connected even when I travel, so there is usually a nagging feeling that something needs my attention. It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, and hard to fit into life when there is always something pressing. However, as he notes, if Jesus felt the need to do it, I should too. So, I’m trying to weave more of this into my life.

And that’s it! That was my personal retreat. It was wonderful. Another lesson that came from this time was just how valuable it was, and that this is something I should continue however I can. I usually try and fit books and articles and podcasts into the busyness, but having this dedicated time for it, with a specific purpose in mind, was well, RENEWing.

The reality of life hit me hard just after my personal retreat. Of course it did. Of. Course. It. Did. And it was frustrating because I wanted to keep the good vibes going. Life was interrupting my zen! But I realized that I wouldn’t have been prepared for it without this retreat. So, it’s already served me well in ways I couldn’t predict, and I guess that’s just another reason I should continue.

First one down, hopefully many more to go.

 

(Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links.)


4 Comments

My Word for 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-465545201

RENEW. Sorry, I just couldn’t hold it in! I’ve been bursting to tell you that my word for the year is RENEW!

It came to me almost instantly about a month ago. In the car that morning, I thought it was time to start thinking forward to 2016, and it just popped in my head. And I knew immediately that it was right. (Strangely enough, it was also written on the mug of a co-worker I sat behind in staff meeting just an hour later!)

In coming to the end of last year, I was exhausted . . . mentally. After dealing with chronic illness for three and a half years, I know what physical exhaustion is. But mental exhaustion was settling in fast, and I was kind of panicking. Thinking of this word, though, gave me hope. Shortly after, I met with my mentor, Holly. A mentor is someone everyone needs in their life, and Holly has blessed me immensely. She comforted me, encouraged me, supported me, and then empowered me with some Bible passages she’d just read earlier that same day. It was no chance that we met that morning.

Isaiah 43: 16-21 MSG

Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.

This is one of the scriptures she read to me that morning, and now it is also my verse for the year. I think it paints a beautiful picture, and one that will bring me comfort this year.

And I’m a little surprised, considering where I was just a few weeks ago, but I’m actually excited this year is starting. There’s just something special and enticing about “new.” And now I feel better prepared as well.

Coming very soon, I’ll tell you all about the personal retreat I took this weekend to RENEW and recharge. It was the first of its kind for me, and I would not have been ready for 2016 without it. It definitely helped get me on the right track. Maybe it can help you too.

For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy my (RE)NEW YEAR.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear it.

And you can read about last year’s word here.

____________________________________

So, what is all this word for the year business? So glad you asked! I love telling people about it. Basically, a few friends and I started this tradition a number of years ago. It’s a way to look at the year intentionally and proactively in the beginning, rather than only coming to the end of a year and reflecting. We think the latter is more of a reactive stance, and should be more helpful. So, we wanted to set a tone for our year that would help us get where we wanted to go.

This tradition was reinforced again for me a few days ago when I started my Five Minute Journal. It was recommended on a podcast I listened to and sounded really interesting, so I ordered it and started on January 1.

But here’s a snippet from their introduction:

There’s a small part of your brain called the reticular activation system (RAS) that turns on and off your perception of ideas and thoughts, and determines the lenses through which you look at the world. When you take an action like buying a new car, you’ve taken a major step in redefining your possessions and your RAS changes to accommodate your new acquisition. And everywhere you go, your RAS will gently remind you of this change by pointing out others who have the same car as you.

When you write ‘What would make today great?’ (one of the daily questions asked), you’re taking a step to influence your RAS to point out and engage in activities that would make your day better. You’re building new pathways in your brain that allow you to ‘see’ what you can do to improve your well being every day. You’re creating a new program in your mind that naturally leans to improve your happiness. Doing this consistently gives you consistently better days. It’s that simple.

Voila! And you thought I just made this stuff up. 😉

And I discovered as I prepared for 2015 that there are a lot more people who utilize a word for the year. If you’re interested, here are two other great resources to help get you started:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a wonderful 2016!

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)