Not only is it a New Year today; depending on how you look at it, it’s also a new decade.

Yowsa. Hello, 2020.

I guess a little reflection and planning is in order?

I’ve had a little reread of my post from this time last year, and I’m not sure if my plan to “Go deep, spark joy” was entirely successful. True, I stopped buying new online courses [note to self, make a list of all the online courses I still have outstanding], but then I enrolled on a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology instead (which I guess counts as going deeper?)

I did things that sparked joy but not as many of them as I’d hoped, and they were predominantly work-related or entrepreneurial.

So this year I’m going to take a slightly different approach. I’m taking a leaf out of my favourite book, The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry, with a dash of Atomic Habits by James Clear.

To wit; I’m going to try monthly and quarterly overviews with regular check-points, and find ways to build in tiny habits for a cumulative win.

I’m also going to adapt something from corporate coaching and team building: Stop, Start, Continue. It’s a fast and easy way to check what’s working, what’s not, and to identify what to try next.

Because I don’t have a lot of strategy in my life. This isn’t entirely surprising; having a disabling chronic illness means that my health and energy levels are erratic and unpredictable. And I’ll be honest, my life hasn’t suffered from a lack of intense planning. Great stuff has shown up out of the blue, and keeps showing up, so I want to keep plenty of spaciousness in my life.

But as I reflected in December, a couple of things came to mind:

There’s stuff I want to STOP doing

So many New Year resolutions are about STARTING things; a new diet, an new exercise routine, a new budget. But STOPPING what no longer serves us makes room for new, better, more helpful things. And a ‘Stop Doing’ list is as much about our thoughts as it is our actions and physical habits.

All of the things I’m choosing to stop come down to one thing: confidence. It’s so easy to have self-defeating beliefs as the foundation of our logic – and damn, I’m no exception.

I’m aware that my tendency to prioritise other people’s projects over my own comes down an over-developed sense of conscientiousness and a lack of self-belief. So I’m going to stop believing (and thus acting) like I have a lower priority.

There’s stuff I want to START doing

I want to pay more attention to how I’m using my energy and attention, as there are a number of big projects on my horizon. I have several essays and presentations for my master’s, workshops I’d like to create, and a trauma-informed model of well-being that I’m excited to develop.

So I’m going to try weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints to gauge the five areas Todd Henry talks about in his book: where I want to place my FOCUS, how I want to invest in my RELATIONSHIPS, how I want to spend my ENERGY, the STIMULI I’m intentionally selecting, and the HOURS that work best for me (AKA the acronym FRESH).

The hope is that being strategic will, ironically, give me more freedom to come up with ideas – which is harder to do on demand, or if I’m fire-fighting problems.

There’s stuff I want to CONTINUE – and build on

Studies show that doing crafts benefits our well-being and, while I’ve enjoyed my sewing hobby when I can, I’ve definitely felt starved of it when projects at my computer have taken precedence.

So I want to continue with my “unnecessary creating” projects, which are unpaid and without deadline, as fun things for me to do – and to get out of my head and into my hands more.

. . .

But in the way that I had “Go Deep, Spark Joy” as a mantra last year, I do have a word for 2020. It came to me as I started reading Liz Dean’s Switchwords: How to Use One Word to Get What You Want.

Apparently it’s a ‘master switch-word’ that’s incredibly powerful, but to me it just seems appropriate for a year that looks the way 2020 does when written down: TOGETHER.

Lord knows that the crises we face as individuals, as societies, and as a planet as a whole, need us to work TOGETHER. We are all, whether we acknowledge or experience it or not, interconnected to each other and to everything. So it feels like the way forward will be richer, deeper, and more regenerative – in all kinds of ways – if we shrug off our habitual individualism.

And remember that we’re all just walking each other home – together.

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