My 3 Themes for 2011

Every year Chris Brogan does a “My 3 words” post to bring in the new year. The idea behind coming up with the three words is that they’ll be guiding pillars for what you’ll focus on in the coming year. Instead of resolutions, you focus on your own core themes as a lighthouse for your actions and efforts. I read Chris’ post this morning and my 3 themes popped into my head almost immediately, so I thought sharing them here was a good way to kickstart the year.  Here are my 3 themes for 2011…

Presence, Focus and Personality.

Be Present – One thing I’m working hard at is being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing in the moment, and giving my complete attention to the people I’m with. Taming my tendency to diffuse my attention across a host of inbound distractions is my personal El Guapo. This fall Jules and I took a 2 month trek across Vietnam and Thailand in between our move from San Diego to Boston. It’s a trip we’d been wanting to do and saving for for years. For almost 8 weeks we were out of our element and disconnected from the constant, nagging distraction of technology. I didn’t get a single text, emails slowed down to a trickle and my stress level by the end of the trip had flat-lined. It was glorious and liberating. Every day felt like Saturday.

Instead of rushing to my computer first thing in the morning, Julie and I talked and lingered over breakfast. We spent our days reading, exploring and discovering new ways to have fun outside. Now that we’re back, I can feel myself slipping back into my old habits again, but I’m much more conscious of it. 2011 is going to be the year of finding a better, healthier balance.

Focus More On The Few Things That Are Most Important – I took on way too much in 2010, and for many reasons it was because it was a transitional year for me. We were preparing for a big trip and a move between coasts. I also knew I would be leaving my full time job in September, so I said “yes” more than I should have to side projects and took on more freelance work than I could handle at nights and on weekends. The result was that I did less of things that I enjoy like read and blog, I spent less time with my family and friends, and I was tired and worn out in my day job. I found my upper limit for work, and then I crossed it for the first time in my life. In many ways, it was a fantastic learning experience. I taught myself how to freelance and make a consistent side income, and I got to speak at a conference and guest host a radio show. But I also learned how important it is to focus your energy on the few things that benefit you, and trim the fatty distractions and side-projects that waste your time, break your focus on things that matter and don’t move you forward. 2011 will be about spending time on the few things that matter most.

Write With Personality - I want to write more in 2011, but I want to do it with more guts and gusto. When it comes to writing, I’ve always wanted to be like Heather Armstrong, Colleen Wainwright, Penelope Trunk or AJ Jacobs. All four are personal heroes of mine because they’ve got guts. Every single one of them has made me laugh out loud and think deeply, and I look forward to reading their stuff because they inject so much of themselves into what they write. For whatever reason, in the past I’ve tended to hold back when I sit at the keyboard. Not with ideas, but with the delivery of them for sure (humor, personality etc). All I know is that I love writing this blog and I want to get as much enjoyment as I can out of doing it. So I’m going to loosen the reigns a bit in 2011 in the name of fun and let my readers in a little bit more. Come what may.

What are your themes or resolutions for 2011?


  1. January 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm ·

    I have one big one that's always a battle: Mindfulness. Seems to coincide pretty well with presence and focus. Just to be mindful of what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, and not be in the past or the future or wrapped up in my brain with a hundred to-dos or sneaking a peek at my iPhone every time the little email chime goes off (six hundred times an hour). I didn't even harvest one plot of Farmville clover while typing this, either! (Threw that in to cover “personality”.)

    You can do it… I'll nag you once in a while to be sure :)

  2. January 3, 2011 at 10:38 pm ·

    Way to go in kicking the year off with some clarity! Good to see you back in the saddle. Are you going to get a full time gig or stay freelance?

    Best of luck in the New Year!

    • January 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm ·

      Thanks, Luke. I'm freelancing while I look for a full time job. I've got

      consistent work and I love the freedom to make my own hours, but I work best

      when I have the structure and social interaction that goes along with team

      work. I'm looking in Boston right now. It's really exciting to be back here

      after living in San Diego for 4 years.

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  4. January 6, 2011 at 2:44 am ·

    Great themes for 2011 Steffan, I especially related to Personality, as it's easy to lose track of our own voice, and thus ourselves. My Brogan themes were Reclaim, Rewrite and Renew – seems we were thinking along similar lines. (oh yeah, San Diego misses you, just sayin'…cheers my friend!)

    • January 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm ·

      Thanks Mark! Yeah, it does seem we were on the same track. Thanks for the

      kind words. Give the San Diego crowd a hollar at the next meetup for me!

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