I'm often surprised by July. The summer races by, even though it feels like we aren't as active in the sluggish heat or rainy summer days. This year, I decided to take July by surprise and use it as a checkpoint for what I want to focus on this season. I went back to my 12 Week Year planning process and figured out what big things I wanted to focus on for the next 12 weeks. I have a couple of big projects on my horizon and some things I would like to cultivate in life. Each one had a million possible to-do items and started to feel intense.
I took to my journal and pulled out the intentions behind these action items, asking "What are the overall values and feelings I want to express/experience in my life in this season?" I already know the big areas of my life that need focus, but I wanted to get at how I would focus on them for the next 12 weeks.
I chose four words to remind me how I want to feel and what is most important to me at this time. These are:
- Grow: I've started a new product management role that is stepping up everything to a new level. As I get caught up in the busy-ness of tasks, I want to keep a commitment to growth and learning top of mind. I also want to remember as I move through the day-to-day tasks that I am a beginner here. I'm going to make mistakes. I'm approaching this stage of my life with high levels of curiosity and openness to feedback. (I'm hoping to grow out of fear-based perfectionism one of these days!)
- Build: Another big project running through 2016 is that I am the chair of my college reunion planning committee. My actions for this summer are to bring together a strong committee and lay the foundation for the program and planning effort. I am building a framework for the rest of the project, doing work now that will help us put on a great event next year.
- Simplify: For this season (all seasons?), I am concentrating on our finances, our time and our possessions. At every turn, I am asking where I can streamline, what brings me (and my family) joy, what do we love and what do we actually use. I'm letting go of the rest whenever possible.
- Nourish: Of course, my word for 2015 remains a focus. At present, I am working on mind, body, spirit and relationships. I'm meditating, aiming for 10,000 steps, reading really nourishing (and refreshing) books and finding ways to connect with people I care about or want to get to know better. I'm being thoughtful about what I put in my body, focusing on health, but also enjoyment and a little bit of comfort.
I still worked out the overall outcome for the season: the actions I want to take, milestones I'd like to (or need to!) meet and the habits I want to create. It's a big list that can feel really heavy at times, and can also feel really energizing and laser-focused. I take from it what I need. (If you want to do something similar, I use Workflowy. If you use that link to sign up, I get more free items each month and so will you.)
When my days get hectic and overwhelming, I can come back to these four intentions. I can forget the 12 Week Plan and the Goals and To-dos, and instead ask myself "What can I do in this moment to live my intentions?" I am able to move forward on what is most important right now and can slowly add energy in the right places as I have it. I'm feeling really comfortable with this approach right now and I'm looking forward to what the season will bring.
Do you plan or set intentions for the season? Where are you focusing your energy these days?