This past year has been an amazing time of growth and yet I’m not where I thought I’d be one year ago today. I’m farther along in some respects, way behind where I wanted to be in other respects. This post is an excerpt from a private reflection I wrote for my personal journal.
It was around this time last year when I started to consider the three words I would use to inspire me during 2013. Out of the blue, I settled on Zoom Vivace and Jazz.
Zoom Vivace Jazz
Zoom because of my intentions to make my childhood dream of a multimedia empire a reality. Not just something I played around with, but a real platform to tell stories and instigate change. And as a reminder to focus (zoom in) while keeping my eye on the big picture (zoom out).
Vivace because it’s about life, enthusiasm, energy.
Jazz to remind me to improvise, to interact with others and grow with them while pursuing my own creative vision.
These three words, with their multi-faced meanings, came to me so quickly and intuitively that I immediately knew they were the right words to inspire me and direct my actions in 2013.
January Through May 2013
In January and February I was on fire, thanks to the support from my Brave community.
January was especially productive because we have a Jan term that gave me greater flexibility in my schedule. Once classes resumed, I was extraordinarily busy with work, while simultaneously working on a book manuscript, participating in 20+ hours of webinar sessions for the Content Success Summit and other programs. I was learning how to develop webinars for my own business and working with a graphic designer on site upgrades for The Ben Franklin Follies.
In March I was focused on creating and giving conference presentations, for my own consulting business as well as academic research and poster presentations, doing several interviews for the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast. I also had my classroom and administrative responsibilities.
Thanks to burning the candle at both ends, I got really sick for the first time in 12 years. Fortunately, the illness hit just as Spring Break got underway so I didn't have to miss any classes. Finally on Day 5 I had to succumb to antibiotics to beat it because I got worse each day, rather than better.
When I got back from giving my academic conference presentations in Denver in early April, my attention shifted fully to the classroom and finishing out the semester on a positive note.
From late May through August I was immersed in my beekeeping and small organic farming enterprise. As much as I wanted to work on my writing and consulting business I had very little time to do so. Except for some work in late July, I spent the summer working on my farm venture.
Fall 2013 was the second most difficult semester I've experienced as a college professor. Despite my best efforts and full attention to teaching and mentoring, I couldn't click with the students. I worked nonstop every day in my campus office, eating lunch at my desk every day, trying to find ways to inspire and motivate them but nothing seems to have worked. I don't know what happened. Well, I think I know but I won't go into it here.
Those misfires really left me deflated by November. I tried to inspire and motivate myself by returning to writing. Each night when I got home, I'd have dinner and then sit down to write for an hour or three. Some nights were easier than others. But the process of writing helped me to remember and refocus on Zoom, Vivace and Jazz.
As Thanksgiving approached, I realized that I'd turned a corner from the despondence I felt over the lack of connection in the classroom. My vision was returning and my spirit was feeling restored. Writing can do that.
I also gave this faculty shoptalk the week before Thanksgiving. Although the class wasn't going as well as it had in the past, giving the talk about my vision for the course really helped to re-inspire me for the last few weeks of the semester.
I started writing this reflection on Zoom Vivace Jazz on Thanksgiving eve, which was also the night before my birthday. Although I continued to write regularly after that, I didn't publish any new blog posts for a while because I needed to finish out the semester, get the student work graded and guide them into the final exam period.
I feel very good about my efforts as a teacher in Fall 2013 and I am confident that, one day, the students will look back and realize what they gained from the experience. I wasn't perfect—I expected too much, I fear, probably gave too much work in one class and didn't provide the type of well-defined boundaries this particular group of students needed. As the teacher, I should have discovered that more quickly. Anyway, I learned a lot from the experience and I have already grown as a result.
A Revived Vivace Spirit
As the semester came to a close—and I was able to shift my attention back to my vision that I'd set out to achieve through the compass of Zoom Vivace and Jazz—I began to feel a sense of renewal, a new Vivace attitude.
So, although the outcomes for 2013 haven't fully-transpired as I'd intended back in January I've had many successes:
- Established my apiary and became a beekeeper (even caught a swarm)
- Gave two very well-received speaking engagements on social media marketing
- Gave two very well-received academic conference presentations
- Designed a comprehensive and re-usable poster on teaching social business
- Well-received faculty shoptalk on teaching social business
- Successful freelance writing work
- Small but promising start in content marketing and social media consulting
- Sold a decent volume of vegetables and produce from my organic farming venture
- Maintained my health and fitness (even though I haven't been running)
- Continued to focus on real food, prepared at home as the centerpiece of my diet
- Continued my practice of ongoing professional development and learning
- Taught 7 different courses and fulfilled my responsibilities to the best of my ability, including being on-campus, in my office at least 35 hours each week, as required.
- Wrote thousands of words for my various websites
- Published numerous episodes of my podcast, even though it's been on hiatus since June
- Took time, from time to time, to revel in the wonders of nature, even when I wasn't at the farm
- Practiced gratitude and offered blessings on others, especially when I felt annoyed or irritated
- Spent more time interacting with others, especially my neighbors and strangers
So I could go on with the little things or go into more detail. But the main thing is to recognize the ways in which I've succeeded and grown.
Life is a journey, not a destination and Operation Forward Progress is going well and will continue into 2014.
Do you celebrate your successes? Do you track your personal growth? Do you use three words to guide your efforts?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you reflect on your own life. Please leave me a comment below. Let's talk!