I love a fresh start. The 1st of every month I always feel more energetic, and the 1st of January is the best of them all. Like so many others, I use the new year as an opportunity to reflect on my life. What’s working? What’s not working? Do my actions reflect my values?
Like last year, I have selected one word as my guiding resolution for 2015. Instead of having an overwhelming broad list of things to do better, I narrowed it down to one word that I can use to keep myself on track in multiple areas of my life. Of course, narrowing an entire year worth of improvements into one word is pretty overwhelming in itself.
I came up with a simple one page worksheet to help me with the word-picking process. It has space to fill in what worked last year, what didn’t work last year, and to define what a successful next year looks like to me. Once those sections are completed, I filled in the brainstorming section and then selected the word that I believe will help me achieve the things in the success section.
To print your free worksheet, click here!
Here’s what my worksheet looked like after I filled it out.
My word for 2015 is FOCUS!
As I reflected back on 2014, I felt busy all the time. Like, ALL the time. I realize now I compounded the problem by not spending enough time logically planning out what needed to be done, when I should do it, and then getting it done. On days I made good lists and focused on them, productivity skyrocketed. But even on those days, I was stuck in a pattern of trying to cross off 10 little things, but never making it to the big tasks that would be a bigger benefit to me.
Technology compounds my problem. I’m a total sucker for the siren call of email, text, and Facebook alerts. As soon as they ding, I’m way too willing to stop whatever I’m working and divert my focus. Which would be bad enough if I went right back to work when that happens. Instead, I see other emails that still need attention, or the teaser for someone’s new blog post that I just HAVE to read right then.
With the interruptions, a photo editing session that should take 15 minutes turns into 90 minutes. It’s craziness! I’ve also decided the perceived efficiency of multi-tasking shares some of the blame. If I’m waiting for photos to upload, I might pop over to post something on Facebook. Which then sucks me down a whole rabbit hole of either mindlessly browsing, or purposefully reviewing my analytics. Either way, my photos are uploaded and ready for me WAY before I’m back to them.
For the last quarter of 2014, I experienced what focusing could do for me. I took time out at the end of August to think about what I wanted to achieve by 12/31/2014. I came up with goals for new email subscribers, Pinterest followers, and pageviews. Then I got hardcore and broke those goals down – first into monthly goals, then all the way down to daily targets. Once I had the goals, I brainstormed what specific actions I needed to take to achieve them. I also made daily tracking sheets so I could see my progress. Each morning, I’d fill out the sheets for the day before. It only took a couple minutes, and it kept me on track.
When I set the goals, they were SCARY stretch goals. I thought I was nuts.
But I blew all the goals out of the water. And I did it well before 12/31. The craziest example was with Pinterest. On 8/21, I had 1331 followers. It took me 12 months to accumulate them. My over the top insane goal was to more than double my followers in just over 3 months. I wanted 4000 by 12/31.
I passed that goal on 9/21. Yep. ONE month of focus and I accomplished what I was nervous about being able to pull off in three months. Today, I have over 11,000 Pinterest followers. I didn’t spend any money or hold any giveaways to increase the followers. I just spent time and energy pinning quality content to boards every single day. But I did it with serious focus. I picked 10 boards and was committed to pinning to them daily. I had a checklist and didn’t go to bed until the pinning was done. I also gave myself permission to spend less time on all the other social media networks. Once I had my goals defined, it was easier to see where I should focus my time.
After having the great Pinterest experience of 2014, I realized the huge power of focus. Intentionally deciding what to spend time on made all the difference. I am going to set new specific measurable goals for each quarter of 2015, but still wanted to have FOCUS as my one word of the year to be my daily guide.
I’ll love to hear from you if you use my One Word Worksheet. I am excited to use it each year going forward and think it will be great fun to look back on them over time.
I wish you all tons of fun, success, and joy in the new year!