Some people choose a word of the year. Others write out 10 lessons they learned from the previous year. I thought about both of these things, but they didn't feel right. What did feel right was writing about what I've learned from the past year, how I wanted that to shape the coming year, and distilling that down to the most important principles. For me, that turned out to be four principles that will guide my year.
The 4 Principles That Will Guide My Year
1 | Put well-being first
This one connects to my other three principles, but since I haven't put it into practice in the last year, I needed to spell it out for myself.
My well-being needs to come first. Before my work, my husband, or even my kid. I almost always put it last. It's stupid and it's not sustainable and it makes me worse at everything else I do. And it could potentially shave years off my life.
Me eating nutritious food comes first. Me taking days off comes first. Me spending time with family comes first.
What does that look like in practice? I literally start my day with self-care rather than opening up my computer. I schedule trips to see family before I schedule my launches. I spend the money on my favorite protein powder for my morning smoothie. I take time out of my day to cook when it feels easier to pick up something fast. It means having a real weekend. It means accepting that 10 minutes of yoga is better than no minutes of yoga.
This will take effort, and means creating new habits and thought patterns. Aye. But I gotta do it, want to do it.
Full disclosure: this was #4 out of 4 on my list. I had to make myself move it to #1 and truly put it first.
2 | Travel light
For years, simplicity has been a core value that guides my life. I wouldn't call myself a minimalist, (I remember reading about a guy who got rid of everything he owned so he could travel, including his childhood Christmas ornament collection. Um, no. Mama is keeping the ornaments.) but I like owning less, having few obligations, and not being beholden to things or people.
Last year, I read Greg McKeown's excellent book, and immediately felt I had found the language and principles for what I have been aiming for all this time: essentialism.
Essentialism asks us to do what matters most, according to our own values. It calls us to be intentional, stick to our integrity, and rise above the mindless day to day so we can truly be there for the experiences and people that matter.
In a practical sense, how does that affect my life? It means being ruthless about where I spend my time. It means saying yes only to projects that I'm excited about. I means turning down a lot of requests, and that can mean disappointing people. It means decisions are easy to make because I always know what the priority in my life and business is.
It also means owning fewer clothes and shoes, and thereby having fewer choices to make and things to manage. It means having simple, soothing decor in my home. It means having a morning routine I don't have to think about that takes care of me.
For me, one of the best feelings in the world is showing up in city with only a backpack. I find incredible freedom, power, and vitality in that.
I've found that I can always travel lighter than I initially think I can, whether I'm packing for a trip, writing an essay, or building a website.
I want more of the freedom, power, and vitality that comes from focusing on the essential. I want to travel light.
3 | Flow
Last year, I strived to achieve some important goals in my business.
Do you know the root of the word "strive"?
Strife: vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism; a quarrel, struggle, or clash; competition or rivalry; strenuous effort.
It makes me tired just to look at those words. There is a lot I want to accomplish, but the hell if I'm going to quarrel, struggle, or clash to do it.
I like to work. I like to set goals. I like to achieve. I don't want to change that. I want to change my relationship to achievement.
This year, instead of striving, pushing, and strenuous effort, I want to flow.
Flow: to move along in a stream: to stream or well forth: to issue or proceed from a source: to proceed continuously and smoothly.
Oh holy yes. That is what I want.
Flow will mean creating and honoring the conditions under which my work can naturally well forth. This may be a moving target, but for now I know it means only choosing projects I'm excited to spend time in and share, having systems in place so I don't feel like I'm scrambling each day, week, month, quarter, or year, turning over some tasks to other people, and actually nurturing my creative self instead of treating her like a circus animal who better do tricks when the big top goes up, regardless of her care.
No striving. Flow.
4 | Trust Laura
I spent several months last year thinking that I'd be better off if I could just do things like another online entrepreneur I had discovered.
It's embarrassing to admit that. It can be helpful to learn from others, take inspiration from how they're doing their thing, and experiment with new ways. But to think, "Maybe I should just do it like her?" My stomach drops.
Now, I didn't copy this person, her words, her branding, her mission, or her business model. It was way more subtle that that. I mentally compared what I was doing and felt in her shadow (this person I have never met, is not in my industry, or I have even purchased from!). I felt like she had it figured out, and that because my social media accounts or newsletter or community or whatever wasn't like hers, that I was doing things wrong.
Now, could I still learn things from watching this person? Sure. But I don't anymore. I cold turkey removed myself from her online world as soon as I realized that she was no longer a role model; I had turned her into a measuring stick.
I know who I am. Now I'm going to trust it.
What's one principle that will guide your year?