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Thematic

I'm not one for resolutions.

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In the past, I've picked words to guide me through the year, to sum up my goals.

But this year, the year ahead feels sprawling. Too huge and unknown and exciting to slap a word or two on it.
Instead of picking a word or goal for the entire year, I'm picking a goal for each quarter (more about this in today's SparklePointer).

But for the whole year?
I'm repeating something from last year: allowing a theme to come to me.

The difference between a theme and resolutions?

Resolutions, goals, visions = action, grasping, finish lines

Themes are just there. They define a period time, whether we want them to or not.

For me, picking a theme means bringing awareness to something. To notice when I need it, to notice when I'm blessed with it.

And the best themes aren't picked. They picked me.

An example

In 2010, during an exercise with Havi, the word PEACE came to me.
And I was annoyed. I am not a person who seeks peace. I seek adventure and challenges and struggle.

Oh. Yeah.

That is why I needed peace.
For the rough times. For the struggles. For the challenges. For the adventures.

And 2010 brought me plenty of opportunities to look for peace, to find it unexpectedly, to cultivate peace in an unpeaceful time.

This year

Despite avoiding it, despite wanting something more sparkly or exciting, I got SAFETY.

Oh, blah. How boring!
And so expected after the recent unpleasantness.

But that's the word.

But what does it DO?

Knowing the word is like having a study guide. I know what I need to pay attention to, even though I have no idea what's coming.

To get a handle on it I start by writing about the qualities that SAFETY includes. What does it mean for ME?

And then, I just pay attention.

I notice the word.
I notice when I feel the feeling (or feel the distinct LACK of it).

In confusing, uncertain or hard times, I ask myself:

  • “How can I bring the qualities of Safety into this situation?”
  • “Where is Safety here?”
  • “What small thing can I do to make this feel more safe?”

This isn't about fear.

Or playing it safe.
Or avoiding risks.

This is about building a safe space, within myself, to act from.

To brunch with.
Like a comfy house in the Shire that you set out from to go on great adventures. Its presence (no matter how far away) comforts you on the cold nights.
Or, for a different geeky metaphor, it's a space station. It's DS9 and my adventures happen with the Away Team, who stays safe as long as they're in contact with the station.

Does your new year have a theme?

Better yet, does it have a geeky metaphor? Tell me about it in the comments!

It’s ok

It's safe to say that I am more excited about the Holiday Sanity program (and all you creative smart people who are joining me) than I am about actually doing the planning. Which is why I invited you to keep me (and each other)accountable. This afternoon is where it all starts, but before we get going, I just needed a little reminder:

With all this talk of holiday planning, it may overwhelm you.
I know it does me.
I finally filled out my own mini-guide (yeah, I shared it with you just to convince MYSELF to do it!) and then all I wanted to do was nap.

And so today, it seems important to know: you don't have to do everything.
You don't have to be perfectly planned.
Or have life balance.
Or know what's going on.
It's ok, just as you are.

Whether you have a family, or an illness, or just stress.
Staying on top of it all, seeming perfect, having your stuff together.
That's not the goal.

The goal (or at least, my goal) is to notice.
To interact with the stuff that comes up, instead of ignoring it and hoping it all works out.
To get help when I need it.
To rely on my community.

This is just a friendly reminder that wherever you are, with your business, with your holiday planning, with your life is exactly where you're supposed to be.
And I'm so glad that you're there. And here.

(If you do have life-stuff that makes you worry you can't run a biz, check out tomorrow's class with Kirsty Hall, about working Within Limits)

Free Guide to Planning your Holidays

This is the third in an ongoing series about planning (your business and your life!) for the holidays. If you want to keep your Holiday Sanity this year, join a group of crafters + artists in our accountability fun If you're struggling to find the time because of family or health limits, check out Within Limits.

Instead of going on and on about planning today, let's just get down to the action. The action of looking clear-eyed and honestly about what you want to do this holiday.

For most of us, that starts with a List.

I am Queen of the List, but my planning really needs to go beyond the list.

I've put everything I know about dealing with big (scary!) to-do lists and turned into a teeny tiny mini-guide.

How I figure out what needs to be done.
How I make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
How I make sure it actually GETS done, hopefully a few days before it's really done.

All of it explained and then demonstrated with silly handdrawn worksheets.

This is one of the first materials I made for the Holiday Sanity program, but I got so much gushing about how helpful it was, I thought, I need to share this with everyone.

So here it is, completely free. No sign-ups or commitments or anything.
Just right click on the little button to download.

And enjoy!

Edited to add: At the request of several fast readers, we're going to do a weekly check-in, right here in the comments.
Today, let us know: did you fill out the first List of Doom?

Of course, you can get private accountability (and brainstorm and learn from a whole pile of clever crafters) in the Holiday Sanity program. Tuesday's the last day to join!

November is National Do Lots of Stuff Month

Happy November!
November is the month of turkey, gratitude and crazy big group projects. Something about all that impending time with extended family seems to draw us to gathering online to accomplish ridiculous goals.

Today I'm embarking on two (um, three?) big projects:

  • NaNoWriMo
  • NaKniSweMo
  • Holiday Sanity

I'm hoping I can convince some of you to join me in the craziness, let me know if you're also doing any of these in the comments!

NaNoWriMo

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a yearly endeavor to write 50,000 words (or, a small novel) in the month of November. Thousands of writers, the world over, participate and it is a beautiful thing. You can read more about it here.
I'm not writing a novel, but I am challenging myself to write 50,000 words this month (these right here count!), in the hopes of giving you what you've been asking for: more CraftyBiz written material to go with the classes.

Gettting it done

I'm using 750words.com to keep track of my daily words. My goal is to write 2,000/day every day that I can, since I'll be traveling a lot in November and I'm sure there will be several days when I can't write at all.
I'm still a little sketchy about WHAT exactly I'll be writing about, so if there's something in particular about crafting a business you'd like to read about, let me know.

NaKniSweMo

As if 50,000 words weren't enough, I'm also attempting to knit 50,000 stitches.  Or, a whole sweater. This is a knitter's version or NaNoWriMo, NAtional KNIt a SWEaterMOnth, in it's 4th  year and is organized by the inimitable KnitGrrl, Shannon Oakey.

Gettting it done

I'm knitting the Featherweight Cardigan by Helen Fettig. I spent, oh, an embarrassing amount of time thinking about what yarn I would make this in, before settling on the designer's own kit. It comes with the fabulously squooshy Malabrigo laceweight, which I got it in Pearl.
No special stitch-counting or knit-progress-tracking with this, I just plan to work on it All. The. Time. All the time I'm not working or writing or crocheting cute amigurumi.
first amigurumi

(Not a knitter? Check out Art Every Day, a sort of NaNoWriMo for artists.)

Holiday Sanity

Unlike the other two projects, this has no big goal line.
It's simply an accountability and planning group project that I put together to help myself get through the holidays. It's my hope that it'll help you do the same.

Tools

I'm creating all sorts of (optional) worksheets to help me (and you) figure out what, exactly, has to be done (and by when) in order to have a great holiday season, both in my business and in my life!
To figure out what to include, I put together all the tools and tricks I know help me get stuff done and I talked to other crafty people about what's worked for them.
What we came up with is simple and not too time-consuming (the goal is to focus on our work, not on the planning.)

Each week will have a theme to help focus our work and we'll follow up in a (private!) chat room where we'll check in and ask questions.
I'm looking forward to it because I know just the *idea* of checking in with someone pushes me to do better work. I've seen my gentle email accountability do wonders in other crafty businesses on projects as big as starting their first shop to making art on a regular basis.
You can join us right here.

Are you doing any crazy big projects this month?

Tell me about it in the comments.

Planning for non-planners

Confession: I'm not a planner.

There, I said it.

I love to implement ideas as soon as I have them.
I like to focus on the part of my business  that I'm most excited about, at that moment.

I run two businesses, teach classes monthly, email tips for craftybiz weekly and write daily.
And yet. I'm not a planner.
I write, teach, email as inspiration strikes.

This is my dirty secret.

Because  this is not what I recommend.
Operating ONLY in this way ensures that I forget all about things like holidays, or anniversaries, or opportunities to do something really cool.

Luckily, it's possible to both ride the wave of inspiration and to plan a bit.
It's all about the Cycle of Creativity.

When I'm on a high, when I'm feeling the momentum of creativity pushing towards more creativity and action, I ride it. I do it.

But when that fades and I'm feeling fallow, I can take the time (and energy) to stop and look around.

Where am I now?

Where do I hope to be? What deadlines (real and imagined) are looming?

I was doing a bit of this planning today (because, yes, the combination of a yarn flurry last week and the flu has landed me squarely in the restive part of the cycle) and I thought I'd share some of the process.

Most of this is done in my journal and all of it comes organicially. I try to let myself write and write, without editing and without worry about What It All Means.

An assortment of non-planning questions

What's coming up? Dates, classes, holidays, themes, money needs? What does the next week  look like, as it is, right now?
The next month?
What would I like to have the next week look like? What about the next month?
(this includes: personal and business, emotional and financial)
Is there something that's been on the back burner that's ready to move forward?

Now. What does it all Mean?

What fits together? What doesn't fit? What can be moved around? What can be put aside?

In other words: what are the connections? The patterns?

And then, if I'm still in the mood

What small steps will take me from Here to There?
Don't be afraid to list Every. Single. Step.

(for example, one of my plans is to take over 100 skeins of handspun to Seattle. How many skeins a week is that? How many a day?)

And the amazing thing?

This planning, it is usually the impetus that moves me from fallow to creative, from empty to full of ideas.

This morning I was achey and tired and mope and now, 1101 words (thanks to 750words) into answering these questions, I am full to bursting with plans and inspirations and plots.

In fact, I came up with a don't-be-overwhelmed-by-the-holidays plan for myself that  I think I'll invite you to play with in the next week or so!
To make sure you get the invitation, sign up for here.

Are you a Planner? How do you do it?

Plan A 2.0

You know about Plan Bs. Those what-to-do-if-this-doesn’t-work plans.
Plan B is really popular. Everyone tells you to have one. All the world is talking about Plan B.

That’s fine, but it’s not for me. Like I said during the last Q+A, I don’t have one. Plan A is too awesome to give up on.

But what about after?
After you have Plan A (quit dayjob, rock crafty business, live happily)?

I’m curious…do most people keep doing Plan A happily…or do they find a new Plan A?

I’m thinking about this after a conversation with a friend who I thought was happy with her Plan A. And because I recently launched my own new Plan A (helping your crafty business) while simultanesouly still crazy in love with my old Plan A (sharing handmade yarn + teaching yarny stuff).

My dear friend is my ONLY friend the only person that I know (our age) that is doing what she went to college for. She started our freshman year saying she was going to be  a Psych major, get her Masters, then work with kids as a counselor. 10 years later, she’s doing that (and it didn’t take her 10 years!).

But I just got an email about a new thing she’s starting (Crossfit certification, she wants to teach it to kids) and she said “Finally! A plan!”.

And I laughed out loud.

Because out of everyone I know? Everyone!  I thought she HAD the plan. I mean, she completed the plan.
While the rest of us (with degrees in French Lit , Psych, History, Anthropology, Journalism) are doing, well, not that, she was. We are coming up with new plans and new paths, but I thought she had it figured out.

But her note was a reminder: no one has it figured out.
And of course, if you’re over 24, you probably know this.

But sometimes? It’s good to have a reminder.

To remember: the people who are doing the plan, the plan they wanted, maybe the plan you want. Those people? They don’t have it figured out either.

And when you do enact that plan (quit your dayjob, start that crafty business, have those kids, marry that stud)…well, then you’re ready to come up with a new plan. A new challenge. A new direction.

At least, this is how I think it works. For now.

(Right after I wrote the first draft of this post, I read this great post by Cairene about feeling in sync. Maybe that's the issue, we need to keep re-syncing?)

Have you moved to another Plan A? What happened to your first Plan A?

PS. July 1st is the one year anniversary of me quitting my dayjob! Celebrate with me by joining me on a free Q+A call. You ask the Qs (about anything you want) and I’ll fake the As. Sound like fun? Sign up here for the call details.

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