How the Three Words are Doing in February

February 6th, 2012 | Shonali Burke | 29 Comments

leaf in focusI know, everyone is talking about the Giants winning the Super Bowl, but aside from Madonna’s dismal half-time show (what was she trying to prove, exactly?) I didn’t watch it. So I have nothing to contribute on that front, other than congratulations and sympathies respectively to Giants and Patriots fans.

Last month, we were all in the throes of setting New Year’s resolutions (ok, some of us were). I didn’t set any resolutions (I stopped doing this a while back) but I did talk about my three words for 2012.

About a month later, I thought I’d share how I think those three words are working for me, and what helps me:

1. Attention

I’d said I wanted to give attention to everything I do in equal amounts. That is, not overly focus on a couple of things, and let a slew of others slide by feeling sorry for themselves.

So far, this is going well. I’m an inveterate list-maker, so every day, I make a list of what I’d like to do that day, and then highlight (check mark or mark with an asterisk) what really needs to be done.

I also create “events” on my Google calendar if something needs to be done by a particular time/day, or if something is coming up, and set reminders for those “events” to pop up at least a couple of days before.

Sure, sometimes everything doesn’t get done on that particular day, but it does get done by the deadline (if there is one).

Helpful tools: pen & paper (for the list), calendar entries & reminders. I’ve also started blocking off at least one entire day each week where I don’t schedule calls or meetings (learning from Gini Dietrich’s post last year about working on your business and not in it).

2. Intention

as in intentionality of purpose.

For me, this is an extension of “attention.” If I have the intention of doing something, or seeing something through, I have to give it my full attention, else it doesn’t get done, and I start stressing (which is not good).

So I’m trying to be more intentional about what I’m doing, what I’m taking on… and not taking on.

On a personal level, this has meant intensifying the focus on wellness. For the last week (and intermittently before then), I’ve worked out at least five days out of seven each week (that includes non-#mybootcamp days where I take one of my dogs for an hour-long walk in my neighborhood when the weather is good), and I’ve been making an effort to cook every day.

On the work front, this has meant getting up early (typically 5-5:30 am) and clearing out email while the world is still quiet. It has also meant cutting off playing in social media from time to time, which I’ve learned I have to do particularly if I’m focused on writing… and much of my work revolves around writing.

I’m also becoming stricter about not going online after a certain time (unless I absolutely have to). This makes me get “work” done in “work” time.

If it doesn’t get done in that time… well, I have to make a new list for the next day, or really ask myself if what I’m looking at as “work” is really necessary… or whether I’m just making my own life more difficult by listing stuff that doesn’t really need to be done, but would merely make me feel better because I can check something off that list.

Helpful tools: a dog as a walking buddy, and my own, objective mind, which gives the non-objective side a spanking when needed.

Also Boomerang for Gmail, which I love, and wrote about a couple of years ago (I’ve since purchased a “personal” subscription for $49.99 a year, which is very reasonable since it works out to just over $4 per month and doesn’t limit how many emails I can schedule).

3. Retention

This really follows from “intention.” Because if I’m intentionally trying to learn and retain what’s good for me, I’m going to have to let go of what’s not.

Last week, I joined Lisa Byrne, Vanessa French and others, spurred on by Samantha Dublin, in committing to going #dry (or on a #drinkstrike) for the month of February. I even started early, on Monday, Jan. 30.

I enjoy a glass of wine as much as anyone else, but seeing as how I’m trying to reach a certain weight, it really doesn’t make sense. Over and above that, what alcohol really does is make me want to eat crap. And as a society, I think too much of our socializing revolves around alcohol, when it really should revolve around getting to know, or catch up with, people.

So I’m #dry, definitely through February and perhaps the foreseeable future… and I’m feeling pretty good.

Work-wise, it is very interesting to see how this word is manifesting in me. It’s making me really stop and think about opportunities that come my way, and whether “retaining” them will be good for me in the overall picture.

Sure, they might mean some money, but will they add to my experience? Will they do me more harm than good by stressing me out more than normal?

If the answer to Q1 is “no,” and to Q2 “yes,” then I say “thank you, but no thank you.”

Helpful tools: listening to my gut, and remembering that “no” is not a dirty word. Doing a quick mental opportunity cost analysis any time I feel conflicted.

How are you doing with your three words? Are they working for you, or have you found you’ve had to change them? What tools do you find helpful, conventional or unconventional? Do share!

Image: kevin dooley via Flickr, CC 2.0

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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28 comments
Yogitastic
Yogitastic

So glad you chose to join us, Shonali. It's been a few days in! How are you feeling? I'm noticing that I'm sleeping a little bit better (as in waking up less in the middle of the night) and am finding pockets of energy where it didn't exist before. Thanks for sharing our #drinkstrike adventure with your wonderful readers! :)

bdorman264
bdorman264

Huh, drinking wine is good for you, I would cut something else out........sheesh.......

I made some minor changes this year and it was kind of fun; there are some things I was so ingrained in it's hard to get me going in another direction. I even mixed all my money up in my wallet. Whoa now....

Fun is my motivator; fortunately, it it involves people I will probably find some fun it; even if it is sitting on a board of directors. I need to have enough structure in my life to get what I need to get accomplished (and could probably tighten that down even a little bit more) but I never want to get too boxed in just because.

One thing I have learned is to embrace change or risk being left behind. As I 'mature' I feel the need even more so to stay relevant. Therefore, I am always eager to learn and grow.

TheJackB
TheJackB

I was surprised to find that I thought Madonna did alright. I like your three words and relate to them. Reminds me that I need to give some attention to my Valentine's Day should Be Abolished post. That should be fun.

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MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

I really enjoyed this post. In fact, I'll return to it later in the day, as I'm a bit rushed now and I want to make sure I have time to reflect on this advice and the tools you shared. For now, I'm definitely signing on to the #dry experience. I appreciate such a personal campaign for all the reasons you mentioned and to demonstrate to my 16-yr-old daughter that Mum doesn't need a huge glass of red wine to cope at the end of the day. Since I'm late to the party, I'll extend my abstinence to mid-March! Thanks for great writing Shonali!

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DonnaVincentRoa
DonnaVincentRoa

@Shonali I just wanted you to know that I read your posts on a regular basis. There is so much you write that touches the heart, the intellect, the emotions, the nerves (in a good way!), and the place in the mind that houses ideas and innovation. You allow your readers to "visit themselves" through your posts and ask "why?" and "why not?"

Today's post, like so many, was inspiring. I am continually impressed with how you present your authentic self and how you add flavor (and spice!) to the mundane. A voice that needs to be heard.

And, thanks for mentioning your 5:00 a.m. risings. I aspire to that.

flt3
flt3

Huh. I thought that was the best half-time show I've ever seen. They are usually terrible. Madonna may not be a great singer, but she is a great performer.

KenMueller
KenMueller

I love how you're following up on this. And I can tell you're serious about this, based solely on the fact that you aren't online as much, spending more time with the attention and intention.

And I'm with you on Madonna. If you want to see how to do a halftime show, go back to 2002. No lip synching. Comfortable in a large venue. It can work without all the props to hold you up.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

I thought you were gonna write about "I Love You" in February in honor of Valentine's Day and my birthday six minutes prior to that. Heh. So, I'll not mention my birthday or Gini's on Feb. 10th; instead I'll say way to go on being dry. That's a feat! Not to mention all the rest of the encouragement you're sharing, too. Sounds like BootCamp for Business to me.

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ginidietrich
ginidietrich

WHAT?!? Madonna was freaking awesome! She's still an amazing performer and she does NOT look her age. At all. I know many, many women who can only hope to look that good at her age. AND to perform in front of the entire world. WOW. She's the epitome of rock star. I loved it!

It's fun to see how you're doing on your three words. I especially like the one about blocking a day to work ON your business. I'll be curious to hear how your end ends up, after having done that for 52 weeks. You might even do something crazy and launch a second business on your day to yourself!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Yogitastic I'm feeling great! Last night my husband asked me what I wanted to do for Valentine's Day, and offered to cook a "real" meal (I do most of the cooking around here), which I thought was so sweet. But then he said he'd bring home a bottle of wine, and I refused. He said, "You can drink for ONE day." I said, "NO! I said #dry through February and I'm going to stay on the #drinkstrike, dammit!" :p

I just feel better overall. The biggest thing, for me, is that alcohol makes me want to snack late at night, which is no good for me. So that's a huge boon.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@TheJackB Valentine's Day SHOULD be abolished. I can't wait for that post of yours!

Yogitastic
Yogitastic

@MimiMeredith The more the merrier! Okay, maybe "merry" is too much to expect but the support does help!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@MimiMeredith Thank you so much! And W00T for you for setting an example for your teen - that's awesome! So much of our behavior is based on how we are conditioned when we are young, isn't it? That's really excellent, Mimi!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@flt3 She is a great performer, but for me there was just too much of everything. Like @KenMueller said, if you're really great, you don't need a gazillion props, you can hold the stage on your own. Spectacles can be a lot of fun, but this one felt overdone to me.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@KenMueller I can't tell you how much I appreciate you understanding when I go "quiet." You don't beat me up over it, but you're there when I need to talk (and you know I am for you as well).

On the lip-syncing - seriously. That was SO disappointing.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing "Bootcamp for Business" - love it!

Your birthday is six minutes before Valentine's Day? Wow. Bet you're gonna have a LOT of celebrating to do... and rightly so! I don't know if I can get you a present in time, but now you have me thinking... and yes, @ginidietrich you too...

And thank you on the #dry kudos. I like the way I feel!

bdorman264
bdorman264

@ginidietrich@Shonali BTW, I'm curious to see how your end ends up too. Maybe a few more sessions with #mybootcamp it will be ending up pretty good, huh? Don't forget to post it on Facebook........:)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

@ginidietrich I wanted more from Madonna! Not the 20-year-old songs we've all heard and seen her in skimpier outfits! Yep, she's a hottie, fo sho, but as a venue, I don't think the Super Bowl is kind to any performer. She ought to go back on tour; she's nail that and get some rightly deserved accolades.

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Shonali
Shonali moderator

@ginidietrich I don't know if I have the energy for a second business... one seems to be enough for now! Unless it's starting something related to cooking... hmm, maybe you and I should team up for that one?

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing That's exactly what I mean about Madonna. She's done amazing things, and I wanted to see the Madonna who blew our minds a couple of decades (ack) ago. But all I saw was a woman who yes, is terrifically fit, but was trying too hard. It was very disappointing to me.

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  1. [...] end one year and start the next, we go through the “three words” exercise. Last year, my three words were attention, intention and retention. And despite – or maybe, because of – the [...]

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