One Little Word 2014
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I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best at sticking with new year’s resolutions. Heck, I even fell off the bandwagon multiple times with my three December Daily goals this past month, like, starting on Day 3. I know.
By contrast though, I’ve found the idea of choosing a word of the year — One Little Word, as one of my favorite bloggers calls it — to be a really meaningful, life-giving and do-able exercise in my life. I actually love everything about it — the time reflecting and choosing your word, sharing your word with friends (and inviting them to share theirs), and then hopefully letting it help guide and shape your life over the coming year. It’s a resolution-free exercise, which for better or worse translates to guilt-free for me, and ends up being much more motivational. Last year a group of friends and I all shared our words together on New Year’s Eve, and it ended up being a wonderful conversation.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my 2014 word for the past few weeks, and have had a hard time deciding. The practical side of me felt like I needed to go with the word “focus” or “refine”. Actually, the word “less” was the one which came to mind more than anything, which was a bit of an eye-opener and definite red flag for me. In a nutshell, my professional and personal life have both been overflowing with all sorts of good and exciting new things this past year, but in the process of diving into new opportunities, I also made the age-old mistake of not subtracting others and have felt pretty exhausted lately. I may share more in another post, but basically while it’s been an awesome year, I wouldn’t say that it’s been all that healthy. So I am taking some steps right now to focus and reevaluate and figure out how do to less.
All that said, though, I mostly had a hard time with the words “focus” and “refine” because they didn’t feel very inspiring to me. They are very necessary, and will help to hopefully create more space for things that are inspiring, but yeah — I just couldn’t do it. Instead I’ve decided to go with the word that began as a little spark of an idea and has since started making me more and more excited. So my word for 2014 is going to be “dream”. Here’s why.
Basically, I love to dream. I’m an “idea” person. I find so much energy in being creative, and visioning, and problem-solving, and coming up with crazy wild ideas and then actually doing them. Well, that is, I think I’m mostly really good at starting them. Long-term implementation and getting into the nitty-gritty daily details of maintenance are not my strong suit, as much as I wish they were.
But somehow, I find myself spending the bulk of my time in maintenance mode right now, especially professionally. No complaints — this blog still continues to grow and grow, which is mind-boggling and crazy cool — but as it has grown, so have many of the daily tasks and opportunities that come with the job. And I’m realizing more and more that I quite simply can’t do it all. And quite frankly, that I don’t want to do it all. I left my last job so that I would no longer have to work nights and weekends and have a better work-life balance. But as I’ve tried to wear all of my work hats and have an active social life, somehow I’ve found myself pulling way more late nighters this past year than I ever did at my old job. Yeesh.
Anyway, the result of all that is that I’ve been working too much, and the work that I’ve been doing has mostly been just trying to maintain the status quo.
It’s still been good. But in reflecting on this past year, I realize that some of the moments I felt most happy and energized and alive were those when I had the chance to do some dreaming. Some of those happened on retreats. Some happened in conversations over coffee. Some happened at happy hours. And some happened laying in bed before going to sleep. But the common denominator is that most happened when I actually had some free time and wasn’t exhausted by work.
So I’m excited (like, really excited) to get to work clearing out more space in my life to do some dreaming. Specifically…
I would love to dream more about my future (big picture). If you were to ask me where I wanted to be 5 years from now, right now I would probably honestly say that I have no clue. I love the track that I’m on right now, but would also love to dream some about what goals I might like to accomplish, places I’d like to travel, skills I’d like to learn, and just generally have some direction beyond just continuing what I’m doing. If I’m honest, there’s been a big piece of me throughout my twenties that was always hesitant to dream big dreams or make plans because I didn’t know if I’d suddenly meet a guy and move or start having kids and have everything. But looking back, I think that’s pretty crazy. Because even if I did meet someone, things probably would not change all that much, and I want to have a bunch of exciting things in the works regardless. So no more of that. :)
I would love to dream more about my future (professionally). Again, I’m totally digging blogging, and imagine that’s what I’ll be doing in some capacity in five years from now. But five years ago, I also never would have even dreamed that this is what I’d be doing today, so I know from experience that things change. :) That said, I definitely still have a major entrepreneurial bone in me, so would love to take some time to research and vision and think creatively about blog projects or other projects that might be cool to work on this coming year and beyond.
I would love to dream more about my future (relationally). Honestly I’ve been so busy the past few years (and was between houses part of the time) that I didn’t have time to dream up and plan more things to do with friends. But spending time with them is my favorite, especially when anything involves food or entertaining. So I have a few fun ideas I’d like to try this year, and I hope to devote more time to trying them.
I would love to dream more about my future (financially). This one may sound weird, but after my first full-year of living on a blogging income (which any blogger will tell you can be a bit of a roller coaster as ad rates and such vary from quarter to quarter), I feel like I have a better grasp on what my income could potentially be over the course of a few years. And as such, I would really like to put on my “adult hat” and get more serious about budgeting and investing and saving and (most exciting) giving. I would love to really dream and develop a plan for giving to some sustainable, cool projects that I admire. I’m considering going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University online, but if anyone has other ideas for basic budgeting and money management skills, I’d love to hear them.
I would love to dream about my friends’ futures. This is actually one of the main goals of next year. I would love to have more time to spend with friends talking and dreaming about what’s going on in their lives. I absolutely love getting to brainstorm and problem solve and set goals and discuss life with friends. And now that I’ve been blogging professionally for awhile, I have people asking to have coffee and talk about all things entrepreneurship or blogging or small business almost weekly. And I really want to have time to say yes to those people I know and love, and also have the time to follow up and even more closely mentor one or two folks. And beyond professionally, I also want to dream with friends about some epic adventures we can take, or ways that we might be able to make the world a little better or more fun together.
I want to dream about our world, and specifically, what small role I might be able to make it a better place. I’m especially thinking about service here. I used to be that girl who volunteered constantly, and was involved in a host of different organizations. But right now, I pretty much just serve with one non-profit and then find ways to give or lend a helping hand to random friends or people in the community. But I would like to be a little more intentional about this, and a little more long-term in the places where I invest time and money and hopefully build real relationships.
All of this dreaming I hope to do prayerfully, with a good mix of friends, family, mentors, and hopefully over lots of cups of good coffee. So if I were to set any goals or actual resolutions for 2014, I’m going to simply say that I hope a few of these dreams might start to become reality.
Anyway, probably wayyyyy more information than anyone wanted to know. But that’s my word, and I’m sticking to it.
I love this one word concept. Kristen’s post got me thinking about it and I decided my word for the year is ENERGY. Yes, I’m exhausted. But I want to focus on exercising for energy and eating foods that provide me the most energy. I also want to focus on relationships and friendships because as you’ve probably gathered, people give me more energy than anything else in the world. Love this post Ali!
I have all of the DR Financial University Literature if you’d like to borrow. I took the course a few years ago. Good stuff.
What a great word! Happy New Year to you!!
My word is survive. I have cancer so I am doing whatever I can to survive. Your blog is wonderful. Thanks for everything you post.
I love the one word concept – I’m doing it again this year myself. My word is Focus. That’s a big one for me. Still working on my post, but it’s a hefty order.
Best to you in your pursuit of your word!
DREAM big, my friend! Love this uplifting, optimistic post. All of your posts (and instagram posts) make me smile. Here’s to one amazing and dreamy 2014. :)