A Word for 2023: Calibrate

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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.

Calibrating the things I have to do means more time for the things I want to do.

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.

My yarn could definitely uses some calibration!

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.

My cedar chest cover pictured with an unfinished sweater. I’m working on it!

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?

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