Last year my writing club suggested trying something new. Instead of making a few New Year’s resolutions (that we will likely abandon by March) our leader encouraged us to select a word to represent the upcoming year. This word, once selected, would guide our thoughts and actions, goals and plans, interactions and reactions throughout the year.
I am usually pretty gung-ho about goals. In fact, I love them. A goal is like a to-do list on steroids. A goal is a big ol’ dream with a strategic plan that will take me from where I’m at to where I want to be. Thanks to a healthy dose of instilled discipline I learned from my uber-diligent parents… I’ve got some pretty good stick-to-it-tive-ness. Goals work for me. But hey, I’m up for trying something new every once and awhile… and you know I love words. So why not?
The first word that popped into my mind was MOMENTUM. At the end of 2016 things had started picking up in my writing world. Instead of being the one to reach out and ask to be included in the word-nerd world, sometimes, people were inviting (and paying!) me to attend and lead events. I had been selling more books. I’d found a supportive (and fun!) word-nerd tribe. I wanted more than anything for this to continue. I wanted to keep moving forward, and momentum felt like a good word to promote that.
But it also felt like this word had a single focus. Writing. Despite occupying a large chunk of my brain space - in both my waking and sleeping hours - writing is not the only important thing in my life. I had just moved my family back to my hometown. We had left the comfortable world we had known for a decade and traded it for new jobs, new schools, a new house, a new church… so much new. Momentum didn’t feel like the right word for my personal life. There was already so much movement. I wasn’t certain that adding more movement to an already chaotic time would make things better.
And so I came to my second word choice, CONNECTIONS. A focus on making connections… on a daily basis with my family, with new co-workers and neighbors, and with other word nerds would benefit my life in multiple areas.
Because I couldn’t totally abandon my type A personality ways of goal setting (and achieving!) I made a targeted plan to consistently work on connecting in 2017. While out Christmas shopping last year I stumbled upon the perfect tool to help me create a gateway for my future connection making endeavors. I purchased a page-a-day, motivational calendar and wrote up this simple note.
Each morning as I sat down at my desk and tore off a new page of the calendar I asked myself, who does this remind me of? Who would appreciate these words? Who needs to hear this message? 85 times throughout the year someone specific came to mind. 85 times I mailed out a calendar page and my note. 85 times I wrote a person’s name on the calendar page and called out to them: I see you. I’m thinking of you. You rock. Keep fighting. Don’t give in. Shine bright! Be you. Be amazing. Celebrate!
Some of the people I sent notes to I see every day. Some I haven’t seen in months, maybe years. Some are people I’ve never met in person. I gave some notes to my students and some to my idols. Many were mailed out my family members. A few people were recurring recipients, but most were one time-ers. At times I would reverse the action… thinking to myself, who could use a pick-me up? Who is important in my life that hasn’t gotten a calendar page yet? Who would benefit from a connection this week?
Sure, there were days that I saw the quote and struggled to connect the thought to a particular person. Some days the quotes were just plain un-inspiring and therefore took up residence in my recycling bin. But 85 times I sent out these hugs in an envelope, these paper pep-talks.
These pages weren’t my only attempt to live out my word of CONNECTIONS. I also joined SCBWI this year and made some great new friends as well as a few professional connections at the state conference this fall. I spent three months in an online mastermind group and networked with some amazing creative professionals across the country, one of whom became a good, good friend. In 2017 I made connections to other local entrepreneurs through my business coach and reached out to many small businesses and writing organizations about possible partnerships. But the calendar pages remained the constant throughout the year. Each and every day, I came back to the calendar.
Do you know what happened?
41 times someone responded. With a Facebook message, a voicemail, a snapchat, a text. 41 times someone took the time to say, “I see you too”. And really, in my book, that’s pretty amazing… and in my opinion, what we need a little more of in our world.
I already have my new page-a-day calendar ready to go for 2018. I’m really excited to continue this daily ritual. I’m not sure what my 2018 word will be, but check back to the blog in early January and I’ll let you know.
Until then, I wish you all sorts of wonderful end of the year experiences… and all the words in the world to describe and record them. I’d also encourage you to think about your word for the year, and if you feel so inclined, share it with us in the comments below!
Happy holidays, happy reading and happy writing!