Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to my first blog post of 2022! As one of my goals for the New Year, you should expect to see more regular posts from me. My “writing about writing” has been especially rewarding over the last few months, in large part because of readers who have reached out and given me such lovely feedback. So thank you and I hope you stick around for more!
New Year’s is my favorite holiday, but I don’t make resolutions as such. Instead, I set intentions. At the beginning of the year I think about the broad themes I anticipate for the year to come, similar to the “Word of the Year” I have seen floating around social media. Often it’s a phrase or a few words for me.
Last year, my debut year, it was “Big Dreams.” This came along with facing my fears around success and learning to aim higher rather than selling myself short.
Those big dreams paid off, and now I find myself at a new point in my writing journey. In 2022, I’m still dreaming big, but my sense of the year so far is that this is a year of building: building on the skills and new experiences of 2021, building sustainable work habits, building a writing career.
In this sophomore year as a published author, most of what I am attempting is not brand new to me. That doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but I have a bit more idea of what to expect. Instead of living outside my comfort zone, I’m working to expand it.
With that in mind, the word that comes to me this year is “Consistency.” This year, I’m aiming for steady, incremental progress toward my big goals. Along with that, I’m focusing on celebrating the small milestones and little victories. My intention for this year is simple: show up, and show up consistently.
What does showing up mean?
When I say “show up,” I don’t mean just making minimal effort. Far from it. I’m focusing on being present, putting in the work, and living in alignment with my values on the little things as well as the big ones.
That means showing up every day, in big and small ways, for myself and for others. It means showing up for my creativity by prioritizing my writing. It means showing up for my goals, still putting those big dreams front and center, but recognizing that it’s the day to day work and the small steps that make dreams become reality.
It means showing up for self care: getting back on my yoga mat for a few minutes every day, resuming my journaling practice, and taking steps to care for my physical and mental health. I have some things in the medical care realm I’ve been putting off for months and really can’t delay forever. I need to show up and see to those.
In addition, I am prioritizing showing up in my relationships and showing up for my community. That includes some goals like keeping up with my weekly blogging and maintaining consistent social media engagement. In this respect, showing up means embodying a positive presence online and finding ways to give back that feel genuine, not performative…but without giving away too much of myself.
That last bit is important because showing up really means staying grounded in the present moment and observing where I am right now, not just thinking about where I want to be. Sometimes showing up for myself will mean a break, a nap, a rest, not showing up for other people or other goals, and I need to acknowledge that too.
I told another creator recently “breaks are part of the work” and for pity’s sake, Erin, take your own goddamn advice. Chasing burnout does not further my career goals, or align with my personal values, or serve my loved ones and my community.
So showing up for myself means rejecting toxic productivity and practicing what I preach. It means being my own friend and ally, not my worst enemy.
Here’s where the idea of incremental progress comes in. This year, I’m looking for ways to bring ease to my practices and smooth out the places where I drop out of my good habits. It’s time to fine-tune the tools I already have in my toolbox.
As an example, today I did my first yoga practice of 2022, showing up for Adriene Mischler’s latest online 30 day yoga program. I love Yoga With Adriene because she is very gentle, intentional, and accessible in how she approaches her classes. I used her videos all last year to maintain my at home yoga practice. But over the last year, one of the hardest steps for me was choosing which video to play, and that could derail me from the start. As I stretched out-of-practice muscles this morning, I wished that I had 30-day yoga practices for every month of the year.
Then I realized: why not just keep repeating the 30 day program? After all, isn’t that what practice is? I’ve repeated yoga videos before and they feel different every time. I’m not bringing the same exact body to the mat every day, so the practice changes even if the poses are the same. I’m interested to see what happens if I keep returning to the same cyclical practice every month.
So that’s how I’m going to approach yoga this year. I’m going to restart this 30 day yoga program each month and take the decision fatigue out of my practice.
I know this is a good idea because as soon as it came to me, I felt my body loosen up and my anxiety release. Ah. Now I have one less thing to think about every day.
My incremental goals (so far)
Here are some other ways I’m bringing ease to my goals this year:
- Drafting. I want to draft a brand new project this year. The target word count is 90k. My current plan is to start drafting in March and finish by July. That’s five months to write 90k words, which means I am working with around a 600 word-per-day goal, just 18000 words a month. Last year I learned that I still get behind when my word count goals are lower, so I might up this a bit depending on how things go, or set optional stretch goals. However, 600 words per day is giving me that “Ah” feeling right now, so I’m leaning into it.
- Journaling. In the past I’ve been a huge proponent of morning pages, which is traditionally three pages of free writing by hand. But last year, this practice started to feel like it delayed my whole morning as I struggled to get to that third page. This year, I’m doing one page per day. It’s just enough space to make a few notes on what I want to get accomplished and what’s going on in my life. For these first few days, it’s functioned as a modified bullet journal where I check off my to-dos. Later, like when I’m actively drafting, I may want to do more pages, but I’m committing to just the one. Ah.
- Social media. My main goal with socials this year is to continue to grow my following and reach, but to spend less time each day figuring out what and when to post. In December, I started to experiment more with pre-scheduling posts. So far it’s helping ease my decision fatigue for what content to share in the moment while opening up space for me to engage in other ways. Scheduling is starting to feel easier than “pantsing” it, and I have had some really rewarding experiences with it, as when I asked people to share their wins last month.
I will continue to look for ways to nurture ease in my daily routine as the year moves forward.
Celebrating the small wins
Since I’m not great at celebrating my accomplishments, it follows that this is a skill that could use some practice for me. To put that into practice, I will be intentionally celebrating my small successes this year as well as any major ones that happen to come along. This will help me remember that those small steps add up to big milestones.
Here’s another place for me to be mindful and present with where I am in the moment. On days when my health isn’t good, the very small things deserve celebration: I got up. I brushed my teeth. I took a shower. I chose to rest, or I wrote 50 words and then I stopped because I didn’t feel good. When spoons are low, each well-used spoon is a victory. Survival is always worth celebrating.
I’m going to bring the energy of celebrating the small stuff to my social media presence as well and trying out weekly “share your wins” posts on Twitter. I may also end up doing monthly wrap-ups here, though I’m not sure that’s where I want to go with my blog content.
However, one thing I have noticed with my online presence in the last year is that sometimes, less is more. Consistency is more important than putting in hours of work into a single post. Showing up matters more than getting it perfect every time. And as much as I don’t think social media should provide a model for all human interactions…far from it…in this respect, I think the lesson generalizes well.
Overall, I’m still developing this part of my plan. Celebrating really is hard for me! I think (hope, intend) that this will be an idea that grows with me over the course of the year. I’m looking forward to getting more comfortable in this zone.
With that, I always love to hear your thoughts and read your comments! What are your intentions for 2022? How are you showing up for yourself? What are you celebrating?