Hello all! Happy 2019!!! It’s great to be back from winter break! How’s the new year starting off for you?
For me this time of year is, honestly, a cold, slippery slump. This grey, perpetually icy-rainy season mires me down in a paralyzing form of self-reflection. But it’s not negative. I first wanted to write “inactivity”, but it’s actually the opposite, my mind is overactive: A constant stream of ideas and memories swirling around in a chaotic primordial slurry.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, for every idea there is an opposing idea, but I can’t decide if they are equal, so instead of winning or cancelling each other out, ideas vie back and forth for attention, branching off into fractals in countless directions. But I can’t complain, an overabundance of ideas is not the worst problem to have.
I am soon coming up on my blog-anniversary (um…blog-o-versary?) which marks two years of A Light Circle. Two years! Looking back on these two years, I can see that I’ve spent most of it creating content—joyfully creating content—rather than marketing or networking, something I’m told successful bloggers should also be doing. Always be uh…marketing. I may always lag in that field. All I have to say about that is, I’m a creator. I simply love to create.
When I’m not creating a new essay or a digital image, I’m putting together a new recipe in the kitchen, painting a new picture, or sewing something together. There’s something so magical about putting basic colors, raw materials, simple ingredients together, trying to figure out what they could become, then adding that precious, essential ingredient: the unknown. You never really have complete control when creating something new, but the results can be far better than you expected. At any case, you always learn something, even (and especially) when there are mistakes.
So, in this seasonal slump I find myself in, I decided to do an overhaul of this site (as you may have noticed), as well as do a thorough reassessment of my work. It has felt like a spring-cleaning-detox, which is perfect when your mind feels overly cluttered. The goal achievement program, OKR: Objective Key Results, by John Doerr sparked these actions. Doerr has lectured on TED and written a book which he calls “a handbook for setting and achieving audacious goals”.
Doerr seems like a kind and fascinating person, in a nutshell he explains:
“The objectives are what you want to have accomplished. The key results are how I’m going to get that done. Objectives. Key results. What and how…. But here’s the truth: many of us are setting goals wrong, and most of us are not setting goals at all…So how do you set these goals the right way? First, you must answer the question, “Why?” Why? Because truly transformational teams combine their ambitions to their passion and to their purpose, and they develop a clear and compelling sense of why.”(source)
So I did as he asked for and wrote down my objectives and key results, as clear and as uncompromisingly grand as I could imagine—that is, as grand as I could allow myself to imagine. That was not easy. Fear, shame and ridicule were nipping at the heels of every sentence I wrote, echoing after every audacious thought. What it takes for a normally shy, distrustful, introverted person to turn into an attention-seeking, ambitious one is nothing short of audacious!
Audacious it may feel to me, my objective, it turns out isn’t that rare as far as writers are concerned: Write a masterpiece novel that I absolutely love. Neither is my key result, which Doerr stresses must be “measurable”: Have my novel finished one year from now, January 23, 2020. That is actually not a realistic goal for me (as it may well seem) because in addition to writing and maintaining this blog, I am also a full-time mom of two small children. With my everyday work, I usually only get about two hours of solid writing per day (on a good day) and the interruptions are constant. To meet that goal, I’m going to have to reduce my social media presence dramatically and constantly push myself to work exclusively on my book.
So that brings me to the why. As Doerr rightly emphasizes, the why is crucial. Why am I doing this?
Pondering “the why” has also led me to these relevant questions as well: Why are you reading me? What do I have to offer that is special or unique? What differentiates me from other writers?
If I were to manifest something truly remarkable, it would have to be the result of my greatest ambition and passion. It would have to be a compelling why.
So, that’s what I’m pondering now in the beginning of 2019. In my next two posts I will be delving into “the why”. Have you asked yourself these questions as well?
Text and images by M.P. Baecker.