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I just looked it up and I’ve been doing One Little Word (with more or less success/focus) since 2013! That’s 10 years of words to guide me and help shape my year.
I’m a fan of just letting my word come to me and not giving it too much thought, and this year’s word came super clear and obvious a couple of weeks ago.
I don’t love using dictionary definitions to explain things (even though I love dictionaries), but I did look it up to make sure it meant what I thought it meant.
A lot of the meanings have to do with the accuracy of measurements, like you calibrate a machine to ensure that it’s working correctly.
To me it means making little changes to make things better.
It means examining the way things are, the way things look, the way things feel, considering how they might be made better, and doing what I can to make those improvements.
So as usual there’s cleaning and clearing and organizing my space to make it more efficient and inspiring.
It’s thinking about the work I do, how I do it and why, and whether I want to continue to do it or try to find something that aligns with my other goals better.
It means making time for those things that I say are important to me, because I need to act like they are.
The Joy of Incremental Improvement
One of my favorite ideas for a long time now is that of incremental improvement. It means we don’t have to make big, sweeping changes to make a difference in our lives.
We don’t have to uproot everything to reach our goals.
We don’t have to do it all right now.
We can do a little bit now. Make things a little better today. And do a little more tomorrow.
Over time those incremental improvements lead you to a totally different place, and you’ve achieved what you wanted with a lot less stress and heartache than if you’d approached it with an all or nothing attitude.
This fits right in with calibrate because each little change, every tiny improvement, is a calibration.
It’s thinking about things every day and asking “how can I make this just a tiny bit better?” and then doing that.
I happened to come across a post the other day that compared it to compounding interest in the financial world. Instead of trying to do a big thing every now and then, doing little things every day compounds over time into a big change from where you were before.
That’s what I’m looking for. Calibrating my routines, my work, my life in ways that make things just a little bit better.
Over time I hope that looks like more time, space and energy for projects I really want to do, more work I care about, more time with people I care about.
Side Quest: More Finishing
Looking back on the last year, I don’t feel like I finished a lot of things.
That’s obviously untrue if I really think about it. I wrote two books. I can look back in my photo roll or on Instagram and see plenty of things I made, finished and wore.
But there are projects that are weighing on me because they aren’t quite finished. Or because they’ve been stalled for a long time and I feel bad about it.
Example: I made a blanket of sorts out of my husband’s old shirts and it’s been floating around the house for a couple of years, unsure of what it would become.
Toward the end of last year I realized it was just about the perfect size to cover the cushion for the top of my cedar chest. So I wrapped the foam cushion with the fabric and left it there.
I finally sewed it up the other day and put it on the cedar chest.
It’s a small thing but it feel so much better to have it done.
There are a lot of those things. So I need to calibrate my thinking around projects and ensure that when I start something I actually finish it.
Wouldn’t that be a great improvement?