I love the way our home looks at Christmas. I love the lights and the greenery, the giant tree, the cozy throws and pillows, the sound of jingle bells on every door. It’s warm and welcoming, just the way the holidays should make one feel. But as much as I enjoy it, I also appreciate the way it looks after the festive is packed up and the needles swept away. It’s such a stark contrast — busy and full to clean and open — and to me it epitomizes the freshness of the new year.   

Whether we’re intentional about it or not, January finds most of us reflecting on what has been, and what we would like to change in the next 12 months. We talk about it with our friends, Instagram our goals, and Pinterest the possibilities. We create inspirational graphics to motivate us, or — in the case of a friend of mine — embroider it on a hand towel as a daily reminder.

As an INTJ, I am a big proponent of ongoing growth and the idea that we’ve never arrived. Anyone who has worked with me knows I’m quick to point out that there’s always room for improvement — in ourselves and our processes. I love calendar day, when I start with 12 empty months and begin to fill in possibilities in pencil (even better are the days when pencil possibilities change to plans in ink!). Looking ahead and setting big goals gives us something to aim for and keeps us motivated when we get to the less exciting parts. This is true whether you’re writing a book and planning for a launch or working towards being debt-free. Goals are good!

But then there’s the question of what kind? Do you stop at grand, overarching ideas that you’d like to achieve . . . someday?

  • Write a book
  • Launch a speaking career
  • Spend more time with family
  • Become a mentor

Or are you more intentional, setting specific goals to be accomplished by a set date, with their own checklist of steps required to get there?

  • Write 700 words a day
  • Land 6 speaking engagements by June 1
  • Book beach house August 1-7 for family vacation
  • Fill out paperwork to begin volunteering at youth center

Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Sometimes it helps to break it down from a larger idea/word (e.g., Time) into smaller, bite-sized specifics (i.e., more time with family>schedule a day off each month to make plans for a longer vacation>book rental house). In the Weaving Influence Book Marketing group, we’ve been taking polls and chatting with group members about what their marketing and writing goals are . . . not for the year, just for this first month of 2019. Smaller bites make the mountain look a little less intimidating.

And for those of us who, in addition to actionable goals, appreciate the idea of a word for the year, I share this to close. I read a post this week from a friend who really wanted to pick a word that would summarize what she hoped the year would hold for her, professionally and personally. But after all of her introspection and list making, she realized that she was actually embracing the idea of a year of the _______, open to all the unknown and endless possibilities. Speaking as someone whose life has changed drastically in the last two years, her openness to whatever comes really resonated with me.

Open, by the way, is my word of the year. Open to change, open to growth, open to stepping outside of my comfort zone, open to doing more. While I have a list of dreams rolling around in my head (write a book, research vacation possibilities, schedule home renovations), more than anything I just want to be open to what 2019 will bring — the unknown and the endless.

How about you?