It was a fall afternoon as I talked on the phone with my friend and mentor and I realized that I was going to have a big cry.
Sob-fests don’t scare me like they used to, and so I let the tears come. I sat in my feelings for about a week, observing, analyzing, praying.
And the diagnostic word began to surface: disconnected.
The conversation that had started my self-examination was about how I was feeling about some of my relationships in church. Disconnected. But then that feeling started to spill over into other areas of my life: work, parenting, finances. Disconnected. Much of how I had spent my time and energy in recent months was mechanical, and whenever I hit a hiccup, my reaction was to disengage, disconnect. I was more interested in checking boxes and crossing items off lists than I was in getting down on my knees, digging in, getting real and getting dirty.
It was humbling when I was honest with myself. I dropped a few more tears and came to peace with my weakness.
And then I decided to take action. We were heading into the holiday season and I knew that I wanted to shift my focus in the New Year (and even before).
I’ve never done a “word of the year” before with much success. Pick one word that is supposed to guide my life for a whole year? It has felt arbitrary, and honestly a bit contrived.
Maybe I’ll feel that way at the end of this year.
Nonetheless, I’ve learned a lot about goal-setting recently, and so at least for this year, a word that provides singular focus makes sense.
Connection. I put it up in my kitchen: my command center, the heart of my home, family and work space. I pass it multiple times a day, and it keeps me centered when I’m pouring milk, writing out my schedule or filing away receipts.
I think I’m onto something here with this word of the year business.
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5 Ways I’m Practicing Connection as “Word of the Year”
A word like this is inspirational on my kitchen wall, sure, but it’s empty without any way to put it into practice. Perhaps that’s why “word of the year” never really worked well for me in the past; I didn’t have any practical way to put it into practice day in and day out.
And while it would be ironically self-defeating if I watered down my word into a bunch of checklist items, I have spent many hours over the last several weeks mapping out exactly what practicing connection looks like. (I chose Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets this year to help me “make it happen.”)
1. Connection in My Home
I’ve actually done decently in this area, as I’ve worked steadily on decluttering and organizing over the past few years. But where I feel like I’d like to connect more is making my home…a home. A haven.
Three, maybe four years ago, we had the toilet and bathtub replaced in our main floor bathroom. We intended to finish remaking the whole room with new paint, laying tile that we already own, and replacing vanity and the linens. Surely this is not a terribly difficult task.
It’s years later, my friends. Years. I have made zero progress. I felt overwhelmed and uninspired by the project so I disconnected myself from it. We never budgeted for it. I was hoping my husband might take the lead, but it’s just not a high priority to him.
If it’s gonna happen, I must set it in motion.
I’m setting small, attainable goals. I’ll start with a Pinterest board. I’ll make a budget. I’ll block out a Saturday pick out some paint. And step-by-step, we’ll move forward.
And this is how I want to approach alllll of those little things in my home that just make it a little bit lovelier to be in. Connecting, step by step.
2. Connection in My Family
I homeschool my three kids. We have a good routine and rhythm in our home, which I love, but at the same time I can feel a little…checked out. And my kids can feel it.
This year it’s my goal to be intentional about each of my kids’ love languages (as well as my husband’s). I get one-on-one time with at least one of them each week. During that time I’m going to talk through with them what helps them feel loved, and then I’m going to do it! (My quality time kid will be thrilled.) My goal is to collect and record words, photos and mementos from our times together throughout the year. By Christmas, I’ll have a unique gift for each of them that commemorates how our relationship grew this year.
(I love these 25 love language ideas for kids.)
3. Connection in My Work
Last year was a huge year for me in my online business. I took some courses and worked hard to grow my audience, and I put together some digital products that I’m really proud of.
At the same time, by the end of the year I was feeling exhausted with it and, naturally, a little disconnected from my purpose. I’d gotten lost in numbers and productivity, which is the exact opposite of the message I want to communicate!
While I still have number goals, I’m much more interested in narrowing my focus this year and connecting with you. In my stress management course, Chaos to Calm (which I plan to open for enrollment in May), I’ll be doing more live and interactive coaching. In the Wiping Noses for Jesus is Legit Facebook Group, I’m going to be interacting more frequently and strategically to get to know you. As for the blog, I’m hoping to open up a bit more and sharing posts just like this one, where I worry less about the perfect title or presentation and just share my heart.
4. Connection in My Community
It’s hard to stay connected in friendships when you’re in this stage of life. It’s something I’ve continued to battle with, and I feel like I want to engage in my friendships in a deeper and more authentic way.
In addition to some changes in the small group I’m a part of at church, my personal prayer this year is to deepen three of my friendships. I know that’s a bit vague, but practically speaking what this looks like for me is choosing one person in my life whom I will pray for daily over the course of a week. I’m not sure where that will lead, but I’ll bet it will be pretty great.
Another goal is to bridge the gap between my online ministry and my “real-life” one. My hope is that by the fall I’ll be able to gather a group of women together in person to explore some of the topics I’m passionate about, particularly biblical stress management and rest.
5. Connection with God
I’ve actually grown a lot in this area over the past couple of years, particularly in the way I pray, but I know how easy it is to get complacent, lazy and disconnected.
A few years ago I started the practice of writing the Scriptures that spoke to me most on my hard days on notecards and putting them on my kitchen counter. After a time, most of them were memorized.
But then at some point I either misplaced or damaged the cards, and I fell out of the habit. I’m finding that I’m getting slower at recalling the verses I once knew so well. So this year I’m getting back into the habit, and my goal is to memorize one Bible verse a week. And this time I won’t throw out the cards!
There are a few other goals I’m working towards in business, finance, family and even having fun (like reading more fiction and learning to make sourdough!). I might reach them and I might not…but the point with my word of the year is to maintain the right perspective. No matter what I do, I am choosing connection over checklists and processes and perfection?
Have you picked a word of the year? I’d love to hear it and how you plan to live it out in the comments.
And if you need help learning how to map out some of your goals, be sure to check out this free resource, which is part of the free collection I offer for subscribers:
To purposeful living this year,