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My One Word for 2017: Essential

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.

Okay, I lied. I DID go shopping. I bought this poncho for my trip. BUT I only bought it AFTER I’ve already reached my target travel budget. Haha! This poncho was so worth it though!

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.”

Photo from Pinterest

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!

This was me then. (Planner / photo from Ban.Do)

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!

This should be me now. (Planner / photo by Ban.Do)

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.

What is your one word for 2017?

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  1. That’s a great word to guide you this year! Have a happy new year to you and your family! I have to agree, sometimes, we get so distracted with minor things in life that we forget the major things that need more focus and attention. I admit this is me also. I should start redirecting my attention to what’s essential. Thanks for the reminder!
    Above Precious Rubies recently posted…Our short (yet memorable) Mt. Samat Shrine visitMy Profile

  2. I love your planner! The Little Prince is one my all-time faves. I think we had a somewhat similar fate last 2016. I had so much activities last year it was crazy. I wasn’t even able to blog about all of my travels. I think you’ve just inspired me to change it a bit this year. I do want to have more focus also and to prioritize this story that I am making. I have been so busy last year that I couldn’t get myself to really sit down and prioritize it.

  3. Me too! I’ve been behind time schedule for my year ender which i just published days after the new year. Talking about essential- Identifying what is really important is like prioritizing too. Its one word i declared for my 2017 and i hope i can become consistent. Because everything is really easier said than done. I love the planner by the way.. its cute! 🙂

  4. It’s really really commendable how you manage all the things in life that too despite having a busy career. I love the mantra of one thing at a time mixed with a practical thinking of not going overboard on things you do when it isn’t really possible. Great learning from your articles. I have one messed up mind and cluttered set of hobbies. I want to look after my blog, I want to travel, do photography, gardening, cooking and most importantly play with my kid and take my wife to shopping. I guess I know how to better manage these things now 🙂

  5. I love Little Prince. And love that planner, too. I also enjoy writing stories, memories and even notes.on the.empty pages of my planner. It gives me the freedom to be me.

    As for the one word for 2017, I havent thought about it. But I would like to be inspired and I know having my one word for 2017 will give me that extra push and motivation. Your Essential sounds perfect.

  6. One of my favorite books as a child! You are so right! The word that pops into my mind is prioritize ! You have to realize what is the best for you, and what is just time-consuming! It is a difficult task to complete, but when you do it, I think that the quality of your life will change dramatically to a better one 🙂
    GIORGOS SPYRIDAKOS recently posted…My Guide to Long Exposure PhotographyMy Profile

  7. Lovely planner with little prince! I like little prince merchandise too 😉 well said essential when we only live once! Agree absolutely 100% with you. Learnt a lot from how you manage yours. Am sure you are well planner 😉 I am not very good at prioritising what to do now, and what to do later…still learning….cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

  8. The question is of balancing priorities. We must differentiate between what is urgent and what is important.Many of us confuse between the two and this leads to bad planning and execution. A planner is but a means of differentiating between priorities and important things.

  9. We’re mostly behind on our schedules but it’s okay. Pretty soon we’ll cope up. And you’re such a great woman! You can manage all of it without breaking so much. I feel so bad for your friend who over-committed though. Was she able to reach her quota or targets? Too bad it cost her her health.

  10. Well done Nadine – you have your head screwed on! There are many points in this post that are accurate and I totally agree with what you say about Facebook. The minute you log in (I log out to try and stop the distractions) to send a message, somehow you get hypnotised for 30 minutes looking at rubbish. It’s such a time drag.
    Barry recently posted…My New Year’s Resolution: Read 52 BooksMy Profile

  11. I love your One Word for this year. 🙂 I had been choosing my One Word in the past years, too. This year my One Word is BELIEVE. Since I am a Christian, I also base my One Word on the Word of God. Thus, I have a One Verse also. 🙂 I wrote about this briefly here in this post:

  12. In choosing the word ‘essential,’ you have touched on something that goes deeper. On the surface, it is about prioritizing. But at its core, it knows our purpose. We all can agree that what was important in the past may no longer matter today or tomorrow. That is the reason why people change career, move to a new place, and anything else in quest of change.

    Essential, for me, is knowing the essence of life and living it in a way that makes it worthwhile.

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