Three Words for 2018

For the past few years, I’ve followed Chris Brogan’s advice and chosen three guiding words to serve as my theme for the year, as an accompaniment to my more in-depth annual review process. “Share” was one of my theme words in the past that I found particularly useful to me.

For 2018, my guiding words are:

  • Enough
  • Finish
  • Practice

Enough

I half-jokingly describe myself as neophilic, always looking to go new places or try new foods or listen to new music, and loving to experiment (especially in my professional work). I also have a bit of a collector’s passion for art in particular, lusting after more and more artwork. I’d already chosen “enough” as a word for 2018 when David at Raptitude wrote about the concept of a “Depth Year,” going deeper instead of broader in many aspects of life, from hobbies to possessions. This year, I’d like to be satisfied with what I already have, and what I already do. To me, that means:

  • Repair things I own that are broken instead of replacing them
  • Don’t buy new art; frame the art I already own
  • Don’t take on more home improvement projects; complete the home projects I already own supplies to complete
  • Don’t buy new books, or look for new books to add to my TBR list; read the books I already own or have already chosen
  • Don’t buy new things, except necessities (like new socks, replacements for torn sheets, etc)

After struggling philosophically with a knee injury this past year, I appreciated this article urging outdoor enthusiasts to stop getting down on themselves for not meeting their ostentatious outdoor goals, but to instead focus on enjoying what they are capable of. I’d like to try to adopt this philosophy, that whatever I can do outside will be enough, that just because I’m not able to do the hardcore backpacking trip I’ve dreamed about for years, I’m not a failure, and my outdoor experiences are no lesser.

In my creative work, I also tend towards excess; this is a reminder to use just what is needed.

Finish

This goes hand-in-hand with my theme of “enough” — to finish the things I’ve already started, rather than being seduced by new ideas and projects. Not that there isn’t value in unfinished work, in practicing techniques and learning; but at the point where I am, finishing projects will be much more valuable than starting new ones.

  • Finish writing my Beauty and the Beast retelling
  • Finish revising my work-in-progress space opera novel
  • Finish existing home improvement projects

Practice

This word took the longest to come to me, and I’m still not 100% sold on it. Connecting to my ongoing effort to let go of perfectionism, “practice” is a reminder to myself that I am continually practicing and learning, and that setbacks like falling off my exercise routine are not failures. As my calm.com meditation is always reminding me, at any moment I can choose to begin again. It’s also a reminder that building habits is one of the most important things I can do to support my own productivity. This is an evolution from “kaizen,” one of my words for 2016.

I also want to deepen my existing skills with practice — funny how these words all tie back together, and loop into the Depth Year idea. Practice also implies intention — a reminder that simply making things is not enough for growth sometimes, but that intentional practice will lead to greater improvements and better work.

  • Practice new writing technique of using scene cards
  • Get back into drawing, and develop my inking skills, especially developing my illustration skills in the direction of comics in preparation for my graphic novel project

Practice isn’t just for my creative work; it’s also a tool I can use to support my wellness.

  • Build healthy habits, including meditation, through ongoing practice
  • Work on my mindset, not beating myself up for getting hung up in unwanted thought patterns, practicing being more positive, less cynical, tempering my emotional reactions, and worrying less

About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

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