A guiding word

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word to guide me through the year.

(This has become an increasingly popular thing to do—which I’m happy about!—so I’m guessing you’ve heard about the concept. But if not, I’ll share some resources at the end of this post that can help you learn more and choose your own word.)

This year, I’ve chosen the word LIGHT.

This word came to mind over and over toward the end of last year, so I started taking it seriously. Normally I do a more dedicated exercise to figure out my word for the year, but this time around, it found me. (More about that in a minute.)

Once I accepted light, I started looking up definitions—and immediately got overwhelmed. This word means a lot of different things, and while each definition felt right, I was nervous about how to keep it all straight in my mind as I tried to live by this word throughout the year.

But as I kept thinking about it, I realized the definitions I had read (and was reviewing often) really belonged in three separate buckets: internal, everyday, and work. Once I sat down and sorted them out, the overwhelm went away and I felt much more excited.

So here’s how I’ll be focusing on the word light internally, in the everyday, and in my work!

Internally, light will mean the opposite of heavy; unburdened.

Motherhood has opened my eyes to struggles I’ve been facing for years without even noticing. Having Nathan forced me to confront these things head-on, and while that was (and continues to be) difficult, it was also a huge gift. I will continue to move toward a feeling of lightness as I work through these things!

In my everyday life and work, light will mean nimble; requiring little effort.

I also want to bring more lightness into my everyday life and into my work. I tend to overcomplicate things, and I simply don’t have the time or energy for that any longer. I’ve been learning what really works for me and what doesn’t, and what things I’ll need to let go of to have the daily life I truly want. I’m feeling lighter already, and I’m so excited for what’s to come as I keep focusing on the feelings I want.

In my work, light will mean illuminating; something through which light can pass.

I want to help you feel unburdened and nimble as well. Throughout all the different iterations of my work (like copy editor and one-to-one content coach), this has been my goal. But more and more, I’m realizing that rather than simply being a flashlight that highlights only one direction, I want to be a lens through which you can truly see yourself and then work toward becoming the strongest version of yourself possible. From that place, you will be more equipped to create stronger content and a stronger business and life.

I’m excited about how all these facets of light will work together. But I’m equally excited about how it felt to find this word.

As I mentioned, I normally sit down and put work toward finding my word. And that’s totally fine. But it felt so good to have the word come to me. And it got me to thinking about why that happened.

Since having Nathan, I’ve been forced to make a lot of changes. Good, positive changes. And in the process, I feel like I’ve become much more open to the ideas and truths inherent inside of me—and learned to truly listen to my own internal truth and wisdom.

And I’m sure by now that you know I’m going to say this, but one of the big things that has helped me get here is writing.

Not writing for other people, but writing for me. Behind-the-scenes, sort-it-all-out writing.

But you know what’s funny? After having done this kind of writing for so long, I’ve found that I follow a similar process when thinking things through. I have a verrrrry active baby running around, and sometimes my brain is the only tool easily available to me—ha!—and it’s been interesting to see how my thought processes have changed over time. Often, I actually imagine myself writing through a problem.

Explore can help you develop your own writing (and maybe thinking!) process, and I’m almost ready to offer it to you. I’ve been going through the entire program to refresh, update, and add things that I think will make it an even better experience for you. I can’t wait to give you this powerful method of digging into your own internal truth and wisdom! Keep an eye on this space for more details when I have them.

Okay, now that I’ve shared my word and what I plan to focus on, it’s your turn!

Have you chosen a word or other guiding theme for the year? If so, I’d love to hear what it is! I’m always fascinated by what others choose and what it means to them. I’d also love to hear how it’s already showing up in your life as well as how you plan to keep it in mind as you move through the year. (Feel free to comment below or to share on Instagram right here.)

If you haven’t chosen a word, or you are new to the idea, here are some resources to check out!

Susannah Conway’s (free!) Find Your Word class

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’m gonna keep on mentioning it. This is a great, free five-day email course that will help you sort through your possibilities and choose a word that feels meaningful for you. It’s what I’ve used in past years!

Nicole Gulotta’s blog post

I’ve been following Nicole for years over at her literary food blog, Eat This Poem, and I’ve loved seeing her unfold a new direction as well—helping writers balance work and creativity. She wrote a great introductory post about finding your word.

Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map work

This is another resource I’ve talked about before and that I’m sure will come up again. Danielle’s process leads you to find a few words (I think three or four is ideal) that will help you focus on how you want to FEEL as you move through life. A wonderful process (and one I’m planning to work through again soon, to find some supporting words)!


I would love to hear if you use any of these resources, and if so, how you like them. I'm wishing you lots of love and light in this coming year, no matter what your word or guiding theme or wish!

Until next time,
Erica


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Just Try It Out (don't add the pressure of "forever")

We've been, at least indirectly, talking about pressure a lot lately (and how to put less of it on yourself).


A few weeks ago, I talked about how balance might not look like doing something every day or every week—instead, it might look like doing something a couple of times a week or a few times over the course of a month (or whatever else feels right). The bottom line? You get to decide. No pressure.

And then last week, I talked about giving yourself a break when you need it—essentially, not forcing yourself into an arbitrary schedule when what you really need is rest. Again, no pressure.

So when I talk about Explore (a writing experience I offered in January and will be offering again soon), whether you've participated in it or not, you might be a little confused about where it fits into all of this no-pressure talk. Because the whole point of Explore is that you write…every day.

Waaaait a minute. (I can hear you now.) I thought we didn’t have to do these kinds of things every day! I had just gotten cozy with that idea! What’s going on?

Here’s what's going on: Explore, and other pursuits like it, are simply experiments. They allow you to try something on and see how it works. No pressure.


The thing is, we don't usually think in terms of experiments. Instead, unconsciously, we think in terms of forevers.


I'm sure you've had a thought that goes something like this: Okay, that’s it. I have to step up my game. I’m going to:

  • Share a post on Instagram every day.
  • Publish a blog post every week.
  • Meditate every morning.
  • Read one book a month.
  • Write 500 words every day.


At first, that kind of statement makes you feel good. Powerful. In control. Like your future self has it all together.


But while you may have excitement around those Instagram posts or your meditation time the first few days, when that initial jolt of energy wears off, you may feel tired at the thought of continuing to do that thing.

So you stop. You miss a day because you don’t feel good or you get busy or something unexpected happens and or you just don't want to...and then it’s a quick slide back into your old patterns. But something else also happens—you get frustrated with yourself. You start to believe you’re not the kind of person who can start new, meaningful habits…and slowly, you become that person.
 

What’s so often tripping us up is the implied forever. There’s no end date—so your mind gets worn out at the thought of making such a huge change.

But when you decide to simply do something for a set amount of time—an experiment—you know when the end date is, and you no longer face the pressure that of forever.



That’s why I’ve set up Explore as a 31-day experiment. You commit to yourself that you’ll write every day—but only for 31 days. Once that specific amount of time is up, you can choose to do whatever you want. You can keep going. You can stop. You can change it up. It’s your choice, and you can do whatever feels right to you.

And the same is true for any experiment you decide to create. Want to post on Instagram every day? Try it for a week and then reevaluate. Want to read one book a month? Try reading one book this month and see how it goes.

Then, when the time is up, be honest with yourself. How did it go? What do you want to keep doing? What do you want to change? Then reset that experiment timer (every day, every month, every Tuesday, whatever it is)…and keep on going.

I’ll be opening the doors to Explore very soon, and I’d love to be a part of your writing experiment. But don't feel like you have to wait to start experimenting.
 

I’ve created a simple but powerful worksheet you can use to create your own experiment right now!

 

It's in the Library with several other worksheets you can use to create meaningful connection with yourself, your ideas, and your audience. Sign up below to get access, as well as weekly(ish) emails from me. I would love to hear what you’re experimenting with!

Gaining a Little Perspective

One of the themes I’ve been noticing lately—in conversations with you, in conversations with myself, in the things I’ve been listening to or paying attention to—is the idea of balance.


(I know, I know, it’s talked about a lot. But hear me out.)

I’m noticing that when we finish a particularly busy workday, we think, Ugh. I didn’t exercise or do my morning pages today, and I missed a call from a good friend. My life is totally out of balance. Or when we get to the end of a week where we concentrated mostly on client work, we think, Oh no, I didn’t send out an email this week and I didn’t spend any time on business growth. Everything is way out of balance.
 

But I’m starting to believe we’re measuring balance on the wrong scale.


I’ve been listening to I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam (who also wrote What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think). She did a study of how women spend their time and I Know How She Does It is all about what she learned.

I won’t get deep into details, but one of her conclusions is that we should measure balance weekly instead of daily. Maybe you have a couple of really busy days, but they let you have the entire weekend totally free from work—and if you look at the week as a whole, that might feel pretty darn good after all.

So let’s look at that busy day as an example. Yes, you skipped exercising, didn’t write your morning pages, and missed a call from a friend. But later on in the week, maybe you went for a longer run, sat in a coffee shop for an hour and wrote to your heart’s content, and met that same friend for a leisurely brunch. When you look at the week as a whole, do you feel like your life is out of balance? I’m guessing not—or at least not as much. You still got to do the things that were important to you—you just didn’t do them all in one day.

But I think you could pull back even further. Let’s look at that client-heavy week. Yes, you skipped sending out an email and didn’t focus on growing your business. But maybe in the same month, you sent out two well-written, well-received emails that gained you a new dream client and then sat down for a several-hour planning session for a new ecourse you want to create. When you look at the month as a whole, do you feel like everything is out of balance? I’m guessing not—or at least not as much. You still did the things that were important to you—just not all in one week.
 

Really, what we’re talking about here is perspective.


Many of us have mapped out our ideal day, and I love this exercise. It’s a beautiful way to look at what you truly find important and what makes you happy. But I think that where we fall down is thinking we can always do those things every single day.

For example, I would love to be able to meditate, stretch, exercise, write morning pages, take a walk, and hang out on the couch with a cup of tea reading a book that helps me grow—every single day. But realistically, at the pace I typically move and with the other things I have going on, doing all that would take more hours than I usually have. (And with a baby on the way, those hours are going to shrink even more.)

For a long time, I felt like my day was a failure if I didn’t check all those boxes. But what I’m coming to realize is that if I get to the end of a week and I’ve done each of those things, say, two to three times, I feel pretty darn good—meaning my body and mind feel taken care of and I feel like my life is pretty good.

But I only get those good feelings when I stop trying to force myself to do more than is realistic in one day (or even one week). And if I do have a day where I manage to do all of those things and still get all my other responsibilities taken care of, I have something to celebrate—rather than letting that super nice day get ruined by all the other “failures” around it.
 

So what do you do if things feel out of balance?


Take a step back. Imagine zooming out on a map of your time. Look at bigger windows of time. How are things going on a weekly basis? Monthly?

And then think about how that bigger view makes you feel. Are you ok with things the way they are? What changes would you make?

Maybe you decide, for example, that you want to write every day (even if just for ten minutes) but that you’re happy exercising three days a week. Or maybe you decide that you’ll have a marathon reading session once a week, and be content with ten or fifteen pages before bed other days. Or maybe decide you want to do a month packed with client work followed by two weeks of content creation, business growth, and other internal projects before firing up a busy client month again.

Or maybe you simply realize you're in a busy part of your life right now (new baby, new business, big move, hard personal things happening) and you just let go of some of the expectations you've been placing on yourself.
 

Just remember that you’re the one who gets to decide what balance looks like for you.


I would love to hear what balance looks like for you!


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