Most people finish writing their New Year’s Resolutions even BEFORE the New Year arrives, but me? I’m a little behind on that. But what I DID figure out early on was my ONE WORD.
Sometimes, resolutions fail because there are just too many of them. We write a long list of “promises” to ourselves, only to break those promises as early as January! I mean… how can we fulfill them if we can’t even remember all of them? So instead of trying to pull off a bunch of uninspired resolutions, I thought that someone as forgetful as I am should just focus on one word for the year! Sounds a lot easier, right?
Last year – although I only realized it at the end of the year – my word was TRY. 2016 was all about grabbing life by the balls, taking risks, and exploring opportunities, without any expectations. I tried everything from hosting weddings and events to doing voice overs, and pretty much said “yes!” to everything that seemed interesting to me. It was my busiest year ever!
Basically, last year was about doing MORE.
This year, it’s about doing LESS.
When I received my Little Prince 2017 planner, I immediately thought of that famous quote from the book: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
After one look at my planner, I excitedly announced to my husband: “I know what my word is for 2017! My word is ‘ESSENTIAL.’”
I looked up the word “essential,” and found my two favorite definitions of the word:
- “Absolutely necessary”
- “Extremely important”
What does choosing this as my word for the year really mean, at least for me?
Identifying what is REALLY important.
But… isn’t everything important? If you think about it, not really. Not everything is urgent. Not everything is non-negotiable.
If I could break down this entire thought, it would be encapsulated into two words: FOCUS and PRIORITIZE.
I’ve wondered why it’s so easy for me to decide on doing something and yet find it so hard to follow through on that decision. I realized that maybe one reason is because my purpose isn’t so well-defined. It really helps to be clear and serious about our goals so we can get off our bums and get them done.
This also means that it’s time to do away with things and activities that are not aligned with our priorities. For me, one of those distractions is social media. I truly envy people who don’t have a Facebook account! (How???) I often wish I could quit Facebook but I can’t because I need it for work and because it is a supplement for my blogging, but I find that I do spend more time on it than I should. I do some mindless scrolling for a few minutes, and before I know it, I’ve lost so much time – time that I could have spent doing things that could help me get closer to my goals! Yikes! So much for focusing!
One reason why I love traveling (aside from the joy of traveling in itself, obviously) is that it gives me clarity of purpose. Every time I book a flight, I start saving up for that trip and somehow find ways to earn to fund my travel. When I set a travel budget in mind, I’m like a horse with blinders as I work toward meeting that budget. When I booked our Hanoi trip, for instance, I didn’t go shopping for new clothes and shoes for months! (If you know me and know how much I love shopping, you’ll know that that’s a pretty huge deal!) To make it easier on myself, I tried as much as possible to avoid the malls so I could resist temptation. In the end, all the sacrifices were worth it and we had an amazing holiday! It helped that I knew exactly what I wanted and what was important – REALLY important – to me.
Weeding out the “good” from the “great”
Sometimes, we get lucky and promising opportunities land on our laps without us even having to lift a finger. Sure, they’re not terrific opportunities but they’re okay, they will do. Old Nadine would have said “Yeah, why not? Life is short!” but the New Nadine would be more selective and say “Yes, life is short. And my time and energy are limited. So unless this opportunity is really awesome, I’ll pass.”
The challenge is in weeding out the “good” from the “great” because sometimes, they look almost exactly the same! Maybe asking yourself these questions will help you make a decision:
- “Will this really help me and bring me a step closer to accomplishing my objectives?”
- “What am I giving up or investing for this opportunity? Time? Money? Energy? Relationships? Is it worth giving up those things for?”
- “Do I LOVE it? Or do I just LIKE it? If I don’t get to have or do this, will I get over it quickly or will I regret it for a long time? Do I really, really, REALLY want this?” (That sounded like a Spice Girls song, didn’t it? 90’s kids, you know which one!)
- “Moment of truth: why am I really considering this? Is it because I think it will be a waste if I don’t do it? (In Filipino: “Sayang eh…”) Is it only because it’s ‘cool’ or ‘popular’? Is it because this is my only option and I don’t have anything else?”
Asking these questions should help you in decision-making. I like what Greg McKeown said in the book Essentialism: “If the answer isn’t a definite yes, then it should be a no.”
This year, I want to get rid of the Fear Of Missing Out. I want to get better at saying “no” to the good to make room for the “great.” And if great doesn’t come along? That’s fine, because I can always use the free time to do other things I love! And I think THAT’S pretty great!
Choosing quality over quantity
In my line of work (the wedding and events industry), “more is more.” The more hosting gigs I bag, the more impressive I appear to be. When people find out that I’m fully booked, they say “You’re so in demand! You must be really good!”
Maybe there is some truth to that, but I also know that a packed schedule isn’t the only – or the most accurate – measure of skills. Though I was fortunate enough to never have had experienced a “lean season” since I started doing this job full-time, I also wondered if people would question my competence if ever I started having less bookings. But I decided that this year, I am going to place more value in quality over quantity. I have always been all about quality anyway, but what I mean is, I’m not going to worry about the number of projects I have. In fact, I want to take it easy this year. If possible, I want to devote less time to work so that I can give more time to my other life projects (such as working on my visa application, which I have been putting off for so long!). I also want to show people that having less work (or accepting less work) is not equal to the dwindling of the quality of my abilities and service. In fact, it could even be the total opposite! Wouldn’t someone perform better if he or she is more well-rested and energized?
A friend of mine, another event professional who had accepted bookings for almost every single day last December, told me that she will never make the same mistake of over-committing again. She got really sick, to the point of being on the verge of throwing up in her events. She said that she regrets it, big time. In prioritizing quantity and biting off more than she can chew, the quality of her health suffered.
Sometimes, the saying “less is more” is true!
Stop glorifying “busyness”
I’m one of those people that feel weird and antsy when I’m not doing anything. I don’t like “wasting” a day so I tend to fill it with all sorts of activities. When I’m not doing anything “productive,” I feel guilty. And when I do tick off the items on my checklist, I feel so accomplished! Talk about Type A personality!
The busier I am, the more that I feel successful and important. But I want to change that. I want to be able to tell myself, “Hey, stop! It’s okay to step back and take a breather once in a while.” I want to keep in mind that rest is NOT a sign of weakness. In fact, rest makes you stronger, happier, and more balanced. In periods of rest, you will also have a chance to really take a look at your life and evaluate it. In fact, it was after our vacation in Vietnam when I started to think about some of the ideas that I am writing about now in this blog post!
Understanding that I don’t have to “do it all”
Mike’s friend told me: “You’re probably the most ‘managed’ person I know.” People wonder how I can “do it all” – maintain a busy career, cook dinner for my husband, show up at parties and celebrations, write actively on my blog, etc., etc. You want to know my secret?
Here it is: I don’t actually do it all. I do, but not all at the same time.
There are days when I do one thing and then there are days when I do something else. I try to be good at everything but sometimes, I fall short on some things. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be the #1 event host in the country. I don’t have to be a diligent blogger who publishes a new blog post 5 times a week. Mike is not expecting me to be the perfect wife, and he doesn’t mind when I say “I don’t feel like cooking today. Let’s just order food from McDonald’s.” I don’t have to be a Superwoman… and I’m not. (I wrote a similar blog post about this 3 years ago here).
It’s perfectly fine to do less this year!
There! That’s my one word: ESSENTIAL. I thought it would be the perfect word for me. It will help me make better decisions, make my life simpler, and remind me of what really matters.