2018: The Year of Living Selfishly

Last week I wrote about my “Better Person Roulette”, which I am still liking so much I may create a meditation mantra roulette as well. This bite-sized technique is really working for me.

But…

I’m also working on another resolution…the overarching theme technique. Many people select a word or two and use that to guide their decisions throughout the year.

I’m using a rendition of a title from a movie “Year of Living Dangerously” and making it my own with the Year of Living….

Selfishly.

There, I said it.

Why the Year of Living Selfishly?

I’m going to work on me this year. There I’ve said it. And because I still need to tell myself it’s okay most days to do this, I will explain why I think more moms (and others, particularly solopreneurs) need to start doing this.

Before anyone starts thinking that a mom has no business living selfishly, hear me out.

2017 was a year of forced learning for me. In March, my (former) father-in-law died suddenly at 57. No warnings. Just enjoying the spring weather looking out over his backyard one moment, gone the next.

My best friend of over twenty years took her life that same night.

These were very different losses and I’m still working through them. The first was shocking. The second was shocking in a much different sense. I cursed the universe over the first. I wondered what I didn’t see with the second. She and I had plans. She was coming to visit in two weeks and I had just texted her that day. We talked on the phone for two hours two days before that.

But that’s a post for another day.

The point is…

I began rethinking my life and what I wanted to do. Not from a professional standpoint. I’m fortunate to be doing just what I dreamed–writing for a living.

But what wasn’t I doing? What could I devote more time to so that I accomplished my goals before the zombie apocalypse?

Okay, I’m kidding here but not really. The point is all sorts of things happen that we don’t expect. It doesn’t have to be zombies.

 

It’s Not Always Zombies That Steal Our Future. Sometimes We Offer It for Free.

So my year of living selfishly looks something like this (so far):

  • Joined a local organic food delivery service (a splurge but one that’s good for my health and my sons’).
  • I’m planning a personal writing retreat and a trip to an event I’ve put off for too long. This will be a five-day vacation where I will write fiction and see some of the most beautiful flower fields in the world. This feels insanely hedonistic and every time I start thinking about it I’m racked with guilt. The idea of traveling to the other side of the country to see a tulip festival I’ve wanted to attend for 15 years but not taking my kids feels decadent and wildly selfish. Not that my boys want to see flowers anyway. Nor would those said flowers still be standing afterward.
  • I signed up for Dollar Shave Club (tiny splurge) but I’m just darn tired of using plastic raizers from Aldi’s. I have to go over the same area like five times. Imagine the time I’ll save!

But seriously….there’s more.

  • I set non-lucrative writing goals. Before 2017, all the writing I felt good about, the stuff I did for me, weren’t paying gigs so I placed them on the backburner. In 2017, a fellow writer I met at a writing conference years ago asked me to co-write a screenplay about his family. It has been one of the best, soul-feeding projects I have worked on in a long time. And I realized, I need to do more of these sorts of things even if they don’t all pay the bills.
  • I decorated my office with things that make me happy and yes, they were mostly things that I bought. And I never do that. I don’t spend money on things that make me happy. I spend it on necessities for the family and my growing boys.
  • I’m setting aside one day every month to improve myself or my business by learning something new.

And I’m still thinking of other ways to live selfishly because I have enjoyed every minute of it. Whenever I start feeling guilty about these things I’m giving myself, I think about the example I’m setting for my boys.

I don’t want them to see me as a martyr, making everyone else happy. I want them to see someone who finds joy in the life she’s chosen for herself. Although I have splurged on a few things this year, I want them to see someone who is setting her own boundaries and living a life of fulfilled happiness finding joy in the little things.

So yes, I am living selfishly this year and I urge you to join me.

My Favorite New Year’s Practice

So my new year’s resolutions lasted about as long as the peace and quiet in my household.

But I haven’t given up.

What's your resolution?

Here’s what I’m working on this year along with everyone else in the U.S.:

Healthier eating habits. A challenge for a severe sugar addict.

More exercise. I sit almost all day. That needs to change.

Meditation. Hey, everyone else is claiming to do it. Thought I’d try it too. The problem is I’m a terrible night owl with serious deadline anxiety so I stay up way too late and wake up much too early. This is not conducive to meditation as meditation becomes a short nap, which I’ve found I am very good at so far.

Drink more water. I don’t drink much of anything.

More speaking engagements. I like getting out there and talking with industry people. I’m putting some things in place to encourage myself to do it more often.

Get back to reading 2 books a month. I used to do this and then some but slipped down to a book a month last year. Would like to get back up to 36-40 books a year but probably not this one.

Finish work on a screenplay I love. Finish a novel and a short story.

Small stuff, right?

 

So fours days into the new year my eating is just as lousy as it was before. I’m not working out or moving any differently. I haven’t meditated once, unless you count hitting the snooze button. I have probably consumed a total of 64 ounces of water in four days.

I’m failing severely but I have done a few things right. I’m:

reading, which is essential to my job.

keeping up with my blog goal of one post a week.

finally settling into my office.

I want to talk about that third one. I was planning on moving out-of-state at the end of this school year. My plans changed, and now I’m staying put. It’s not something I’m overjoyed about but I’m taking some advice from writer Joseph Campbell:

 

So…I’m

Growing Where I’m Planted

To put this into practice, I’m creating a space I love, even if it’s not in a place I love.

I painted a childhood desk of mine, decorated it with quotes that inspire me, bought a comfortable reading chair, and filled the room with soft lighting. The space finally reflects me as I’m filling it full of my favorites not just using it as a storage spot for “misfit” furniture.

This change in attitude (and decor) makes a big difference and my mind is filled with possibilities and energy to do some amazing (I hope) things this year.

Which brings me to my favorite new year’s practice thus far…

Self Improvement Roulette

 

One of the other things that has held my attention is what I call “Self Improvement Roulette.” When I reviewed my 2017 and plotted out my path for a successful 2018, I came up with a lot of things I wanted to implement.

Too many.

If you try to change 20 things about yourself, you’ll likely fail because you’ll lose your target much like what happens to me when I walk into a new room. I wonder,

“What am I here for?”

I didn’t want to do that with my resolutions.

Hey, don’t bring up the sugar failing.

So, I wrote down 31 things that I can do in a few minutes to an hour each and placed them in a bowl. Every morning I draw one and that’s my mini goal for the day. So far I’ve:

  • reconnected with an old friend.
  • researched an area of interest and learned a new skill.
  • paid someone a compliment.
  • said yes (for the benefit of someone else), when I wanted to say no. Like when a child asks you to play and you’re really too tired.

These little things are easily done and have some real value not only to me but to others as well. Plus, it’s kind of fun pulling out a new challenge each day.

So far, even though I’m not even batting 500 on my resolutions, I feel good about the changes I’m making.

 

Tell me…what are you up to? We’re almost a week in. Have you changed the world yet?

Or, like me, are you still working on the sugar thing?

If you’ve totally given up on your resolutions and are beating yourself up about it, read this post my friend wrote.

It’ll make you feel better and get you to a place where you can start making things happen.

Consistency and Other Best Practices I Ignore as a Blogger

I tell clients all the time that they need to be consistent in their posting. If they’re not, they’ll never gain the traction they need to be successful in blogging.

I always want to follow that good advice with…

Do as I say. Not as I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever I meet with a new client, I tell them,

“Just don’t look at my website, unless you’re looking for things not to do.”

The truth is I spend my days (and many nights) adhering to the best practices for my clients. On my hours off, I’m busy reading, researching, working on presentations, and a screenplay.

So what is the point of this post?

It’s to announce a realization I had that I’ll tell you about in a sec.

Ya see, I love this time of year between Christmas and New Years. I spend a lot of time thinking about where I was this time last year, what I’ve accomplished, who I’ve lost along the way, and what I want next year to look like.

My review practice can be a little morbid as I say goodbye to the year and those who are no longer with me (I lost my BFF in March). But it’s not all sad. I do this as part of a thankful celebration for the people who have been in my life and those who still are, for where I am and for where I have yet to go.

Part of this year’s ritual helped me see the need for a new blogging practice.

 

Here’s the thing…

Marketers blog so people will see them as experts. While I will gladly handle your marketing strategy for you, my specialty is business storytelling.

And I realized I don’t do enough of that in this space.

How can I talk about the importance of your business story if I’m never here?

When I am, I’m simply TELLING you how to do things, not SHOWING you.

Cardinal sin #1 for any writer.

So, you dear audience, deserve more.

You deserve a business storyteller who actually tells stories.

Ya see, I don’t want to tell you what to do all the time. After all, storytelling is extremely personal. It’s between you and your audience. At best, I can give you generalities that will likely apply, but the magical type of storytelling comes from knowing who you’re speaking to. I can help my clients with that because we’re talking specifics, but in this blog, the best I’m giving is general information that works for a variety of small businesses.

So….

In 2018, I will give you more of me, which is incredibly uncomfortable. I’m a fairly private person.

But all good storytelling is based in connections and I can’t think of a better way to show you how to do it for your business than by showing you how I do it.

The good, bad, and the ugly.

Please join me.

This relationship is already uncomfortably one-sided. I do hope you’ll tell me more about you this year too.

 

 

Tips for Better Business Storytelling

Even though I hate video, I know that for a lot of people it’s their preferred method of communication. For those of you out there, here’s a video on how to achieve more effective business storytelling.

One thing I haven’t figured out about business storytelling is how to get better thumbnails. Facebook and YouTube always select the funniest face.

 

Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)

Why nonfiction makes you a better storyteller

For thirty-six years I read only fiction. I could never understand why anyone would want to spend free time reading about reality.

And then I became a business owner.

When I opened my business a little over three years ago, I realized I needed a lot of help. So I began reading books like Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid and John Jantsch’s the Referral Engine.

And it didn’t kill me.

Continue reading “Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)”