One Little Word 2015: PRACTICE

One Little Word | Ali EdwardsChoosing BRAVE as my One Little Word in 2013 changed my life.

Choosing NURTURE in 2014 ended up being exactly what I needed for a rough year.

I had chosen One Little Words before 2013, but it wasn’t until that year — the first time I signed up for Ali Edwards’s class — that I actually got anything out of it. I don’t even remember the words I chose in 2011 and 12. I am not even an affiliate, but I just love it so much. Sign up for 2015 here.

(I know if you have done the class once or twice, you might feel like you don’t need it. You *get* what kind of projects to fill your year with. But I need the accountability, so I am happy to give Ali money every January)

My word for 2015 actually came to me about … two or three years ago or so, and I knew I wasn’t ready for it. But I wrote it down (in this very same draft post) and thought about it. Around November of 2014, I revisited this word and description and knew it had claimed me.

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An online entrepreneur I follow — Chris Brogan — chooses 3 words every year. For 2012, he chose Practice as one of his words and described the meaning far better than I can:

Practice is the building block of all habits. But I just realized something. You might think I mean “practice” as if that’s separate from doing.

Practice is the path. Practice is what you do every time, not just before the “real” thing. Practice is the choice to adopt the lifestyle, the way, the path of what you intend to be.

Because the secret is that there are those who “do” and those who “are.” If you “train for a marathon,” you might complete a marathon. If you “become a runner,” you will run as many marathons as you’d like.

When you go beyond “do” and into “be,” that’s because you’ve chosen a practice and not a destination.

The practice is the reward. The practice is the reward. Practice means that I will remember to do DAILY what needs doing. I will look at all of my larger efforts in life as the results of the work I accomplish through practice. I can’t be a sharp sword if I stay in the scabbard all the time. My days will be geared around practice. I refuse to just “wing it” in any aspects of my life any longer. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I’ll not allow for serendipity or leisure, but instead, that I will be much more mindful of how I can accomplish what needs doing, and that I will work towards those goals and interests in a way that affords me more success.

 I love it. That is exactly what I need right now. That’s what I mean when I say I wasn’t ready January 1, 2012 when I first heard it (I was still at the day-job then), but I *totally* am now.

Now — 2015 — I feel like I have finally shaken off all the baggage and crud from having a full-time day job that made me miserable. I feel like I am ready to start again with a new foundation and build my work and income (and practice) from the bottom up. Taking 2014 ‘off’ from launching new L&R products is a big part of that and now I have a clean slate.

I’m ready to actually identify myself as a writer and publish finished novels. Move beyond ‘do’ into ‘be’ … I love how much this word means DO. Look at the synonyms in the image up there: execution, use, implementation. All focus on doing. Actually doing it, and not just planning to do it.

The word PRACTICE ties in with my 2 biggest goals for the year — write fiction every day (and publish it regularly) and get into shape.

I have everything I need to write (just gotta get my head in the right space), and I bought myself a Fitbit a couple weeks ago to track my steps and be the constant reminder that I have been sitting for too long.

Lucky me — Elise’s Make29 product for December was perfect for these goals! I logged on too late to get a letterpress one, but I bought the digital download and promptly printed myself off one (and then my printer ran out of ink).

 December  001 (1)

That’s where I’m going to start. 1000 words written (and I’ll print up another for 10,000 steps taken). Considering I don’t yet do either of these every day it’s enough to start with, but I’m hoping by the end of the year I will have a higher word count and other daily/weekly practices.

I also want to work on improving my chosen PRACTICE (read: career) and read at least one writing-craft book each month.

Results are the external proof of practice. If I can write at least 1000 words every day, that’s probably 2 books a year. If I can walk 10,000 steps each day, that will burn about 4x more calories than I am doing now. I want to get into the practice of taking care of my backyard (I forget to water vegetables) so we have a lovely place to hang out. I want to get into the practice of a better-structured promotional calendar for L&R, so new readers can easily find my old offerings.

There are lots of ways to take this, and I love the long stretch of 365 to feel my way through this word.

I’m ready to PRACTICE.

 What is your word for 2015?

P.S. One Little Word word choice and discussions from my friends Megan, Elise, and Ali. I hope you find your word!

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Last One Little Word NURTURE update

I’m spending this week saying good-bye to 2014 …. and so good-bye to my One Little Word: NURTURE.

I took Ali Edwards’ class last year, and updated my One Little Word album periodically. Not every month. But I still love the class. Later today I’ll post about my new word for the new year. (in case you missed it … earlier glimpses at my One Little Word album here in January and here in May)

I *still* have a bit of gaps to fill in. It’s on my to-do for later in January. I’ll probably take a full day to finish up NURTURE for 2014 and start the OLW album for 2015.

I’m not sure which month this project is from, but it is supposed to be a letter to yourself. I love the journaling projects so much. I like taking the time to write this all out to really see what I think about things.

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In the photo above you can see a bunch of blank pockets on the right. That will be filled with the November project, each pocket will hold a photo.

Not necessarily in this organization (but maybe), but here’s a look at the photos I am ordering. I’ll add a *tiny* bit of journaling to each one. For example, right side middle will say “I’m thankful for Sterling and Stone” … left side middle will say “I’m thankful for the week with Grandma”

Nurture November project

Backside of those pockets will be this …

These are all various ‘categories’ I wanted to nurture at the beginning of the year. I had these cards taped up on my wall for most of the year as a reminder.

The journaling of each card is more or less how I did (not great).

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The next page is this … another year-long journaling project but broken down by month instead of topic. As you can see there are blank spaces. I’m not 100% sure what I want to put in there. I’m *bad* at using ‘filler cards’ or other scrapbooky stuff strictly for decoration. I want to *try* but that’s why the pockets are still empty.

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December  006

That’s probably it. I think there was another December journaling project in the class, but I am just not feeling it. 2014 needs to be behind me, so the next page in this album will likely be the first OLW project for 2015! I’ll share soon!

What do you do for your One Little Word?

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Giveaway: Finishing Manifesto

When are you going to finish what you started?

As artists and crafters we have perpetual projects in progress….
…never-ending photo organization
…trying to stay “caught up” with scrapbooking
…constant blog re-designs
…planning your eventual etsy shop
…piles of fabric and thread for that quilt that you will finish someday
…lots of ideas for projects that you will get to one day.

When exactly will that “one day” be?

When will you actually sit down and cut the fabric?

When will you send the email to request a design quote?

When will you take that next step to move your project forward?

As creators we are constantly fighting against…
…apathy
…the lizard brain
…distractions
…the Resistance
…fear

All of these things are fighting against us finishing our creative work.

Arm yourself in order to finish your creative work.

The Finishing Manifesto will help you do that.

This is my most popular product, and I’m planning a follow-up book for later this year *hopefully*. Get it today for 30% off, or enter below to win a copy…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Resources for setting and reaching goals

It’s that day! The first of January. Fresh start, new beginnings, and goal setting! I love using January first as an excuse to reset and visualize how the coming 12 months will play out …. Here are some great resources I’ve found for setting and reaching your goals:

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Desire Map: New paper planner for 2015

For the first time in I literally don’t know how long I am going to use a paper, physical planner for next year. (I’m sharing this with you now in case you want to get your own before the beginning of the year!)

After seeing Kristin’s Filofax, and looking at a bunch of different options, I’ve decided to use Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner.

Desire Map Planner 1

I suppose you don’t *need* to go through the Desire Map book to be able to use this planner, but I would still recommend it.

The very basic premise is that you decide how you want to feel, instead of definitive specific goals. For example, maybe your goal is to finish your book to submit to agents. But the Desire Map program has you look at WHY. What do you want to feel by finishing that book? Is it that you want to feel accomplished because you finished? Or you want to feel intelligent (because look at how much you know), or that you want to feel …. you know, whatever?

One of the things I really liked about this planner is that it’s got a spot on every single day to write your Core Desired Feelings. I love that repetition, and I love having the reminder every single day.

Desire Map Planner 2

I love the month-views include a spot to note the goals and intentions for each week.

Desire Map Planner 3

And at the end of each week — the Sunday of any week — includes different reflection questions than the other days of the week. I need that pause. I’m really trying to set better work boundaries and this should be awesome.

Desire Map Planner 4

I kind of don’t want to write in it. Which is silly, of course. But it’s so pretty and new and clean. But I made myself write in it, reading the beginning/intro bits, putting in dates and events I knew already.

This first beginning part includes room to write your major goals and core desired feelings. A good overview spot as you begin (and a little cameo by my OLW for 2015).

Desire Map Planner 5

You can see more photos, watch a video and order your planner here.

Do you have any good tips or resources for 2015?

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Coming soon: January Reset project

I love the new year. I love the fresh start. I love the annual feeling of resetting. Yes, you can absolutely set new goals at any time of the year, but I love the special-ness of re-evaluating at the same time every year.

So this January I am starting something new — the January Reset project — and you are 100% invited to join me!

January Reset

 You don’t *need* anything specific to join me — but this is what I am using:

Supplies pictured:

You will LOVE the kit that Allie and I are releasing. You don’t *need* it to participate, though. No worries.

We’ll be launching the digital kit on January 1 (at my blog party) and I will be posting throughout the month of January.

Can’t wait!

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‘Follow your passion’ is usually nonsense

Quick: What is your favorite thing to do ever ever ever and always?

Mine is reading. I’ve been a reader since I could pick up a book. My grandmother used to work at a bookstore and bring my bags and bags of paperbacks with the covers ripped off (it’s a weird publishing industry thing). I would read 2 or 3 books a day during my summer breaks. Those silly Pizza Hut reading challenges were a joke to me because I read that much and more all the time. I read basically any genre and I will gladly recommend you a book in any genre and my to read list on Goodreads is completely out of control.

I love reading with all my heart. It is essentially my only hobby.

But, did you catch that? It’s a HOBBY. Not a job.

Go read this post — How to choose a business — and learn all about why Naomi decided not to become a prostitute. It’s brilliant and funny and lays out 7 very smart reasons why turning what your friends say you are good at into business is not always wise.

I especially like #2 and #5. Both reasons why I am not a full-time developmental editor and don’t really want to be.

Following your passion, while it sounds like a good idea, and you certainly don’t want to pursue anything you’re not interested in, is not as cut and dry as you might like.

I didn’t really pursue marketing because I’m passionate about it….. although I do find it fascinating. If I was being honest, I am PASSIONATE about learning. Reading every book I can get my hands on. The non-teaching part of academia. But I can’t make a living going to school and haunting the library.

I can, however, make a living learning about things and translating them into useful products and services for other people.

I can offer myself as a developmental editor and make an income reading novels. But even then, not 40 hours a week.

Just because you love it with all your heart, does not mean it would make a good vocation.

Of course, there are exceptions. And of course if your passion really is small business accounting or teaching 2nd graders, then godspeed. But I know for most of L&R readers that is not the case.

P.S. For a probably better-said clarification, check out this post on why passion shouldn’t drive you.

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Resources: Balancing work when you work from home

Ever since I quit my day job a year and a half ago, I have been incrementally improving my daily schedule, productivity, etc. Apparently people (me) over-estimate how much they can get done in a day and under-estimate how much they can get done in a year. I’m fighting against that :)

But, as I fine tune and tweak, I’ve been collecting a bunch of posts about working from home, balancing your work and life responsibilities and the best way to keep from going crazy. I’m no expert (I actually love spending all my time at home and not seeing people), so here are some articles from people smarter than me.

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L&R Book ClubOur last book of 2014!

I thought since so many of us are memory keepers AND since NaNoWriMo begins in November, this would be a great selection.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I learned to live a better story by Donald Miller

Blurb from Amazon:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

I remember liking this book when I read it a couple years ago. I’m looking forward to the re-read!

Grab your copy on Amazon, the library, your personal bookshelf or your local bookstore. Reading begins November 1.

Note: This book is categorized under Religion and Christian Living on Amazon, but I don’t remember it being religiony at all. That categorization MAY just be because of who the author is, his previous book and the business decisions behind ranking in a small category. I could be wrong or misremembering of course. That said, you’ve been warned.

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For the long run

Every day for the last few months, I’ve been getting up at 6am and writing fiction for 2+ hours (usually more). I have spent lord knows how much money on learning about fiction writing and the self-publishing industry.

I am not going to lie to you guys, it is HARD work. Just yesterday (Sunday), I wrote 2400+ words and it took me until about 1 in the afternoon. Today I woke up and I have to do the same thing all over again. And tomorrow. And on and on until I’m done. Because I have a deadline and I have ambition and I don’t want to embarrass myself I have standards.

I have yet to earn a single dime from all of this time and money invested.

But I don’t even care, because this is a long-term game. I am in it for the long run.

(I feel bad for my husband. I apologize to him regularly that I am spending all this time without a way to help pay the bills. Fortunately he understands and is totally behind this plan.)

Twyla Tharp has a chapter in The Creative Habit about doing creative work for the long run. Steven Pressfield breaks it down to just getting on base and worrying about it from there. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, but spending hours, blood, sweat, dollars, tears and love on projects that may not pay off for a long time is what helps us grow as people. Instant gratification is for 1-minute rice and microwave popcorn.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have at least the next 15 or 18 months of this planned. Who knows when it will pay off?

 What is your long-game project?

P.S. I was interviewed recently about my fiction.

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