Guiding Words for 2019: The Year of Getting It Done

And I’m back. Happy New Year! I hope you’re well.

I have a tendency, I’ve noticed, to blog more heavily in the first half of a year or so, taper off in the third quarter, and go virtually silent in the three, busy, chaotic final months before the year ends.

This year, the busy was even busier and the chaos more chaotic than usual. That was a heck of a send-off to 2018 that the universe gave me. And I mean, it was certainly memorable and dramatic, but I think I’d like to settle down into a new groove.

A lot happened; a lot changed. Much of it was good, but much of it also isn’t stuff I want to get into publicly. Just… a lot happened; a lot changed.

And now, the year has changed too, and we’re all of us on to 2019.

Long-time readers, or newer readers masochistic enough to read the archives, know that I’ve made a New Year’s practice over the past several years of picking a word, or a few words, or a short phrase, to serve as my compass for the year to come.

For 2018, I chose, “Action now!”

2017‘s word was “Courage.”

For 2016, I chose three words, “Health. Happiness. Organized.”

My focus for 2015 was, “Organized.”

Sometimes the process for choosing my guiding words is a little more formal and planned; other times, it’s more intuitive. This year was very much the latter. My sense of what my focus for 2019 should be really emerged naturally from 2018, and what I accomplished and didn’t accomplish over the year.

I’m proud of what I achieved in 2018. It was, as I said, a year of change. Some of those changes I knew were coming and would need to be managed. Others were surprises.

And of course, these processes don’t neatly coincide with the calendar. Some changes are still unfolding. And there are more changes coming — just the ones I know about are going to make for a busy year, let alone all the new surprises that the year brings.

And my concern is that it will be too easy for me to get bogged down. New adventures are great, and I’m looking forward to them, but there’s always going to be so much to do. I look back on all of 2018’s dangling threads, and when I imagine all the new tasks that will hit my desk, both literally and metaphorically… well, I worry. I worry about getting scared, and getting stuck, and losing momentum, because it’s so easy for me to lose momentum and there’s so much I want to, need to, do this year.

So, to help me recognize that propensity in myself, to help me keep getting things done in 2019, I have my guiding star for the year — one idea, expressed two different ways.

One way of expressing it is, “Move forward!”

Progress doesn’t need to be in big, dramatic leaps to be real — it’s right up there in the subtitle of the blog, for the Unicorn’s sake! Onward, maintain momentum, just keep swimming. An increment of something is better than nothing.

Move forward.

An even more blunt way of expressing it, so much more blunt that I originally thought twice of including it in this post before I decided to just move forward, is, “Get unfucked! Get unstuck!”

This is the year that I want to clear away some of those dangling threads — especially since there will always be new ones. It’s time to finish what I started, fix what I broke, do what I need to do. Finish my novel, finish learning to drive, work towards taking my wonderful, thriving, always-growing relationship with my Special Friend a step or two towards our future.

By making progress. Through steady movement. I’m going to move forward. I’m going to get unfucked, and get unstuck.

My words for the year, will, I hope, help me to stay on course when my path gets thorny.

My journey continues. One step at a time. Thank you for being here with me.

Happy New Year. There’s lots to do. Let’s go.

Coming up next on the blog: I move forward by taking a look back at last year’s reading!


Words to Steer a Year By

For the past several years, I’ve marked the New Year by choosing a word or handful of words to act as a sort of compass, a guiding star for the months ahead, to help me find and stay the course — whatever that course is.

Last year’s word was courage.

For 2016, inspired by Chris Brogran and the example of Tanya Gulliver-Garcia, I used a slightly more formal and detailed process to identify three words: Health, happiness, organized.

2015’s theme was organize, which, yes, I re-upped the following year. As I said, I can always stand to be more organized.

Does this process work? Well, some years it works better than others. But the point of choosing words as compass points is that they allow for regular review and course correction, with much more flexibility than a traditional New Year’s resolution. I have a bad habit of setting a goal, then getting depressed or frustrated when I hit obstacles (frequently, of course, I am the biggest obstacle!) and giving up.

But a guiding star allows me to stop, take stock, and redirect myself when things go wrong. I have often been less than courageous. Often been disorganized. Often not focused on health and happiness. But I believe that I benefit from having these reminders, of signposts on my journey, showing me where I need to go.

Last year involved some pretty substantial changes in my life — big enough that they merit a separate update rather than an aside. It took work, and yes, I think, some courage to get from where I was at the beginning of 2017 to where I am now. And while I can’t know whether things would have worked out differently for me if I hadn’t chosen to make courage my guide for the year in just the way I did, I believe that it was important and valuable to acknowledge that I needed to be braver, and to make the effort to be braver a part of my path through 2017.

Lights and Camera Optional

Sometimes zeroing in on the right word or words for the year takes a lot of time and thought.

This year, that wasn’t the case.

My word for 2018 is action.

As you may have inferred from some of what I mentioned above, or from having read the blog or, you know, ever met me — I’m pretty good at ideas, not bad at plans, and excellent at meaning well.

But I can have a problem with follow-through. Whether it’s letting anxiety over potential bad outcomes stop me from taking action, or being overwhelmed by the paralysis of choice, or confusing having a plan with making things happen.

At some point, I need to take one, last look at the plan, decide what needs to be done, and just do it. Take action.

The year is young, and it’s still easy to focus on resolution-season things like guiding words. With that in mind… so far, so good?

My Special Friend, incidentally, after giving the matter some thought, decided to participate in a similar process of finding her compass point for the year. She elected on a short phrase rather than a single word or cluster of words. Hers is “Do it now!”

We’ve combined the two as a shared invocation. “Action now!” It’s something we’re already using to spur ourselves and one another on. To help us get out of our heads and down to it. Because it’s a new year, and we’re both ready to do more, to do what needs to be done.

Happy New Year. Action. Now.

Coming Up On The Blog: Putting “action” into action with my goals for 2018! A look back at 2017 and my year in reading! And more Breaking In interviews!