As I was thinking about what I want to accomplish this year, I chose three themes: Energy, Accountability, and Creating More.
I settled on themes because there are many areas of my life where I want to make changes. My life feels pretty crazy right now: kids and dogs, a complicated work portfolio, interests outside of work… lots going on. My themes apply across many of these areas.
Here’s how I’m thinking about them:
Energy – optimizing for what engages me. I’ve noticed that what I accomplish is mostly independent of the time and effort I’ve invested. When I’m engaged and interested, or I feel like I’m learning and making progress, I have much more to show for my effort. There are a lot of things in work and life that drain my energy and make me less productive. So I’m paying more attention this year to what activities and behaviors energize me, and I’m giving myself permission to focus on the things that are fun and make me happy. Common advice is to focus on fewer things to make more progress. This year, I’m going to worry less about a narrow focus, and more about whether I’m enjoying the things I’m working on.
Accountability – keeping track of how I’m doing. This year, I’m going to be more intentional about tracking my behaviors and results. Tactically, I’ve started a spreadsheet on google-docs to keep track of the behaviors I’m working on: how often I exercise, what I’m reading, the best and worst parts of each day. For many, this will seem like an obvious step. But – it’s not something I’ve done in the past, and it’s an opportunity. I’ll share updates as the year goes on.
Creating More – making finished products, no matter how imperfect. Since I have a lot of interests, and tend to have a lot going on, I often don’t finish what I start. The “drafts” folder in my inbox is full of unsent emails, my workbench is covered in half-finished products, and I have two dozen books open on my Kindle. This theme is my reminder that the extra effort to create a finished product is worth it.
Taken together – I’m giving myself permission to work on whatever energizes me this year–with the agreement that I’ll finish the projects I’m enjoying and keep track of the progress I make.
There are a few specific areas I’m going to focus on this year with these themes.
First is my health. For me, that includes running and lifting, but also working on my mindset, wellbeing, and calm.
Second is work. I continue to want more fulfillment, calm, and abundance at work: I’ll continue to share lessons and insights here.
Third is finances. The last five years have been a bit crazy on the financial front, as we’ve had kids, gone to graduate school, moved, started new jobs, etc. This feels like a year to gain a better grounding and perspective.
Fourth is the logistics of family life. Things like cooking and activities with the kids can be a source of joy, but also incredibly stressful. I’m going to try to find more peace and fun in this area of life in the year to come.
I hope you find these ideas encouraging as you work on your own life!