Why is the first week back from a holiday or vacation so hard?
I don’t know if it was because we traveled to San Francisco and returned on New Year’s Day. Or if it was because I actually took a week off from work — like barely opened my computer, didn’t touch any work files, didn’t answer work-related emails — and it was a bitch to catch up on everything. Or if it is just the pressure of being the start of a New Year and all that entails.
Yes, the first week of January was rough.
It also felt hectic because I didn’t spend as much time closing the books on 2016 or setting the stage for 2017 before the new year actually started. It felt like I was starting the year off-balance and unsteady.
But on New Year’s Day, I spent some time dreaming and scheming.
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I like to choose a single word for the year. It serves as my intention, a touchpoint if you will that I tend to come back to throughout the year that helps to focus my thoughts and actions.
This year? There were two words I kept circling around in my mind — Grit & Grace.
Last year, Nicole Antoinette wrote about living at the intersection of grit and grace. The phrase stuck with me. I’ve always been drawn to the word grit. It’s a scrappy word, not afraid of rolling up your sleeve, digging in your heels and doing the work.
But I also knew that I couldn’t (and can’t) rely on grit alone, that I need a bit of grace to accompany it. I knew that I needed to treat myself with a bit more grace too, that it can’t always be nose to the grindstone.
And I feel like we could all use a bit of grit & grace in this new year.
Over the holidays I listened to an episode of the #AmWriting podcast with Jess and KJ (highly recommend this podcast if you’re a writer) in which they take about setting goals for the year. I loved the framework they outlined.
You can see some of it outlined in the photo of my notebook above but there were a three parts of their framework that I found really helpful:
- Concrete achievement goals, distinguishing between goals you wholly control (i.e. writing 6 essays by May) and goals that you don’t (i.e. being published in the NY Times).
- 3 “New Years” — January, May and September. Since we all know that life happens and goals often change, I loved the idea of setting goals in chunks so right now, I’m just focusing on getting to May and then I’ll reassess based on what my priorities are at that time.
- Strategies and intentions to focus my work. At the end of last year, I started to think more about how I work and what’s helpful and what’s not. It was good to write them down so I can be more deliberate about my work time — so that hopefully I can have some more play time this year!
For January to May, I decided on 4 goals in three categories – career, relationship, self – in an attempt to be a bit more balanced this year. These all point towards some big overall goals I have for the year and goal publications I’m aiming for.
- Career: Market and pitch regularly (in my control). Have I mentioned that I had pitching and marketing? It’s a necessary part of the business but it often falls to the bottom of the list because I hate it and because I don’t make time for it. For the first part of the year, I want to commit to making this a sustainable practice.
- Career: Publish essays (not in my control). While I cannot control whether or not an editor wants to pick up an essay, I do have to commit to writing the essay. Like pitching, I don’t often dedicate the time to essay writing so I wanted to make this an explicit goal. And it’s off to a good start. I had my first essay of the year published on espnW on Friday about raising my Green Bay Packers-obsessed son in the heart of NY Giants territory.
- Relationship: Plan a fun trip for my husband and I 🙂
- Self: Build a strong body including strength training twice a week, yoga once a week and consistent running.
This whole process was exactly what I needed – a good mix of big dreams and concrete actions. While the above list may not seem like much, these four goals will help me prioritize. More than anything, it was a really grounding experience. Afterwards, I felt like my feet were solidly rooted in the ground.
What are your goals for the year? Do you have a word for the year?