The Reflection Pool

My “20 for 2020” List

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and many other books, has initiated a fun way to think about things you might want to accomplish in a year. She and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who co-hosts the Happier podcast with her, started back in 2018 with an annual list. Part to do list and part semi-resolutions, the 20 for 2020 list gathers some thinking about what the year might bring.

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

I wrote my list in January and have been working on it. It’s enjoyable and not too stressful. These are things I really want to do and try; writing them down has given me a little extra push to follow through. I’m assessing as I go, so we’ll see what happens!

I’ve decided to publish my list here as an extra piece of accountability. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea to help me out or even want to tackle one of these with me? Let me know!

Here’s my list:

  1. Get a thistle tattoo.
  2. Try intermittent fasting 1x a week.
  3. Do 10 “real” push ups.
  4. Make ice cream two times.
  5. Go on a writing retreat.
  6. Read three books on writing.
  7. Attend a writing course.
  8. Do a 5 km open water swim.
  9. Visit London and another part of Europe.
  10. Get married.
  11. Write 2 blog posts per month.
  12. Keep a one sentence journal.
  13. Choose a signature colour.
  14. Grow my hair longer.
  15. Start a weekly family update.
  16. Read the bible more.
  17. Create a photobook.
  18. Get a new kitchen.
  19. Get a mammogram.
  20. Call my parents more often.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks.

#oneword 2020 WRITE

Choosing one word for the year begins with a promise. It’s a way to tell myself where to focus, how to spend my time, and what to accomplish. Using one word distills the essence of my wants and wishes.

I’m looking towards my next chapter. In a few years, I’ll be leaving my current job to move on to something new. I envy those who know what they want to do next, who have plans, who see the future clearly. I don’t. What I do know is that I need to do something meaningful, interesting, and satisfying. I’ve struggled to settle on what that might be. A different job? A focus in another sector? A new business? A non profit?

Photo Credit: mbiebusch via Compfight cc

Enter my #oneword 2020. It scares me to put this word down. All my previous #onewords (Grace, Explore, Action) have been easy. Those words implied some thinking and reflection, some small steps, and an overall gathering of direction. They didn’t scare me.

“Write” means I have to take this seriously. I’m signalling to the world and to myself that I want to be a writer. It’s true that I write in this space and for my job, and I’ve even started a semi-regular family update, but I want more. This is an entirely new feeling for me as I’ve never seriously considered that I could be a writer.

I spoke with a friend who’s a published author about this new direction. I was picking his brain about his writing process and he asked me some questions too. I mentioned that I’d been doing some reading about writing and he gave me a look. “What?’ I said.

“You could spend a lot of time asking, reading, and thinking about writing. That will lead to analysis paralysis.” His message was clear.

He’s right.

My #oneword for 2020 is WRITE. Here I go.

I Did It!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You never what you can really do until you try. Like every old cliché, it holds a kernel of truth. When I impulsively committed to #AprilBlogaDay, I really wondered if it was possible. I worried about time and ideas. How could I do it?

As a teacher and principal, I have worked with students who had trouble with writing. A lot of the difficulty was around writing stamina. They couldn’t think what to write about. They couldn’t write more than a couple of sentences. One successful strategy was timed daily free writing. Writers begin on the first day with five minutes writing on any topic, then gradually add a little time each day or week.

#AprilBlogaDay increased my writing stamina. Once I began and then blogged for a few days in a row, I gained confidence and wanted to continue. I wanted to meet the challenge! People began to read my blog regularly and even comment. I have to admit that was cool.  Then around Day 16 it became harder and I struggled to find meaningful ideas to share. So I paid more attention to Twitter and others’ posts. That helped me think a little more deeply. Another solution was mining my daily experiences and trying to see them through a reflective lens. Not only did that help my writing, it helped me make sense of each day in a more focussed way.

When I look back over the month, I am pleased with many of my posts. Some came really easily, others took more time. There are a few weaker ones (I’ll let readers decide which ones!) but the month represents who I am in many ways.

Thank you to everyone who witnessed this journey. And thank you especially to Chris Crouch, the brain behind #AprilBlogaDay.