Last week, I wrote about how I want my 22 for 2022 list to be relevant to the areas I want to focus my attention on in 2022. Or at least in January 2022, because there’s so much uncertainty at the moment, any year-long plans may be completely irrelevant by the end of the year.
In writing about the word “settle”, I said
“Settle” tells me not to get too carried away with planning my year at the start of the year or to force myself to have gotten my whole year sorted by the first week of January so that I can get on with things. It tells me to take my time and gradually “settle” into a picture of what I want my year to look like over the next three or four weeks.
It tells me not to set too much in concrete early on because so much will change during the year that much of the work I do in planning will get overtaken by other events. I feel like the difference between the end of this year and now is gong to be much greater than the difference between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. Things might even have shifted dramatically by the end of the month.
But still, I set myself the task of identifying the areas I want to focus on first in 2022 and to put together a 22 for 2022 list around those things.
I’ve been working on the list. It currently has 119 things on it.
It previously had 121 things. I took two of them off because they were books I wanted to read and books are on a separate list. (You don’t want to know how long that list is.)
Some of these 119 things are big projects that will take six months to complete. Some of them are simple, one-off actions that might take ten minutes. Several of them were on my “annoying undone things” list in 2021 and are still there.
I went for a walk the afternoon I was drafting this post and, you know that thing where you’ve been working on something for a while and aren’t really getting anywhere, as soon as you get up and do something different, a flash of inspiration comes to you?
While I was walking and not thinking at all about 22 for 2022, inner me, the same me me that told me to settle (I need a name for her, don’t I?), said that I was on the right track thinking that my 22 for 2022 needs to be things to help me achieve my goals. But they also have to be things that I want to write about on the blog. So, inner me went on, you need to redefine the purpose of the blog, what it’s about, what message you want to send by writing it. It could just be a holding place for a collection of 22 mundane things that you want to do over the year, like sewing buttons back on coats and replacing dead pot plants, but that isn’t particularly interesting unless it’s part of the bigger story you’re trying to tell here.
Is your main focus for 2022 to make your house more liveable? Replacing dead pot plants might be super relevant to that story. But if your main focus for 2022 is to create more meaning within your work, it might not be.
You need to decide what you want to focus on, said inner me. Settle on one area, maybe two, or three at most, which you want to explore on the blog over the course of 2022, and relate your 22 for 2022 to them. Don’t just make a random list of 22 things that don’t relate to anything. Make them mean something, and make writing about them each week a way to keep yourself accountable for making progress in those areas.
I like this idea and I can’t think of any better plan, so this is what I’m going to do.
Two or three areas, 22 things that will help me make progress in those areas.
Another idea to throw in here is habit changes. I wrote about how I think the 22 for 2022 list is better suited to things that can be ticked off and achieved, rather than habits that take some time and consistent action to put into place. An article I recently read by Cal Newport (author of Deep Work) supports the working in one month periods, and he suggests trying a limited number of changes across what he calls the “four components of the deep life”:
craft (work, creative endeavours)
community (family, friends and the broader community
contemplation (matters of the soul, however you interpret that).
Cal suggests focusing on two things each month for each component of your life that you want to improve.
Adding a habit that you want to adopt to increase the value you’re getting from this component (e.g in the area of “constitution”, 10,000 steps a day)
Reducing a habit that is taking value away from that area (e.g. reducing alcohol (constitution) or excessive social media use (community)).
He suggests working on these changes over the month, seeing what works, keeping what does and abandoning what doesn’t, and then the next month try out some new ones. Over time, you’ll have built up a series of new habits that add value while at the same time having reduced ones that don’t.
I like this idea and I think it makes sense to focus only one thing per area at a time rather than trying to reduce sugar, eat more vegetables, go to bed earlier, start a strength program, drink more water, and write something every day all at once.
And in line with my plan to choose two or three areas, I don’t think I need to focus on every area every month either. I can look at habits in just my two or three areas rather than all of them. And I can make up my own areas too. I don’t need to use Cal’s categories. They might work for him, but they don’t really appeal to me.
So, that’s where my 2022 planning got to this week. I’m trying not to force myself to come up with a fully formed plan just yet because I know the areas I start out with might not end up being my focus for the whole year. (Remember “settle”?) So I’m thinking about what area or areas are most important for me to focus on right now and I’m going to work with those.
What do I want to do next week?
Refine my focus areas for the year
Settle on up to three areas that are most important to me now and that I want to blog about
Make the 22 for 2022 list with things from those areas
Identify a habit for each area to start to put in place
What I’m reading this week
The Founding of Hobart 1803-1804 by Frank Bolt
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Days I went for a walk in the morning (Goal = 7): 7
Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 6
Days I shut my computer down before 9.30 (Goal = 6): 7