18 Minutes: Part 2b (Finding My Annual Focus)

Here are three questions Peter Bregman asks in Part 2 that can help you determine whether or not you will be motivated and engaged.  (Page 91, if you’re looking for them).

  1. Are you working on something meaningful and challenging – something for which you have about a 50% chance of succeeding?
  2. Are you relating to other people at work or socially – people you like and to whom you feel close?
  3. Do you feel recognized for the work you are doing – paid or unpaid?  Can you influence decisions and outcomes?

If the answer is yes in every case, then you will be motivated.  

If you ask yourself these questions and the answer is no to any one of them, change your circumstances so that you can answer them with a yes.  It might take some major life changes, but maybe not.  If you think a career change might be in order, read these books: Quitter, by Jon Acuff; 48 Days to the Work You Love, by Dan Miller; and Fired to Hired, by Tory Johnson.  You can buy them independently at each of the links on the book titles or here, as a combined set at a discount.  Or, do what I do most of the time and check them out from the library.  (I’ve personally read Quitter and loved it, even though I am in no way looking for a career change.)

And now we get to the point in the book that made me pick the book up in the first place: finding my annual focus.  Peter Bregman says that he picked five areas of focus:  two were personal related and three were work related.  As to why he picked a year to spend focusing on these things, he said, “Because a lifetime is too much and a month is too little. A year is the right-sized chunk for our long-term focus.  We think in terms of years – schools, birthdays, religious and secular holiday cycles, salaries, bonuses, and performance reviews all operate within the framework of a year – and a year provides us with the perfect amount of time in which to make real progress in our lives without getting lost.”  (Page 102.)

Bregman encourages you to pick your five (or so) areas of focus so that at the end of the year you will look back and know that the time devoted to those areas was time well spent.

Creating Annual Focus

It was at this point that I brainstormed and created what I thought might be a good five or so areas of focus.  Instead of “work” I chose to label that part as “family.”  (My final draft is a little different from this first, very rough draft, but this was a good place to start.)


  1. School/teaching
  2. Allow Matt to know he’s my #1 priority


  1. Work on 2013 New Year’s Resolution
  2. Blog 5x a week
  3. Keep healthy

The next draft was a bit more detailed.

Family:  (order changed to reflect priority, and a fourth was added in this draft)

  1. Show Matt that he is my favorite  (love notes, emails, texts, marriage challenges, date monthly, be creative in our relationship)
  2. Teach my boys educationally, spiritually, emotionally, and socially (educationally: homeschooling, co-op, piano, violin, foreign language, preschool, soccer; spiritually: Rangers, AWANA, church, Bible Study, Devotions, Youth Group, Adventures in Odyssey; emotionally: to handle their emotions and to model appropriate ones, keeping my own under control; socially: help them develop healthy friendships and boundaries with people of all ages, cultures, races, backgrounds and beliefs… the playground is the perfect melting pot for this type of experience)
  3. Be present with my family and friends (write letters to my friends, turn the computer off and “be” with the boys (not a problem since the computer is now in the office and not the living room), turn iPhone off when Matt is home, set a decent bedtime, keep the calendar from filling up)
  4. Maintain my home (clean, FlyLady, healthful meals at the table, together, nightly)

Personal:  (these changed slightly from the previous draft)

  1. Grow spiritually (spend time in God’s Word and in prayer)
  2. Improve physically (I set a specific target weight I want to get to… still working on that, run a 10 miler… [um, I need to edit that.  I ran 10 miles on Dec 31st… my new goal is to run a half marathon], exercise 5-6x a week.)
  3. Deepen intellectually a) write 4-5x a week; b) 2013 New Year’s Resolution; c) read one non-fiction book a month

When I got to this point I was THRILLED!  I was still in Germany and knew that as soon as my feet hit the ground I was going to get started on this plan!  I was excited because I had a broad overview of what I felt was most important to me in my own life.  

Remember the three questions the author asked?  The questions I posted at the beginning of this post?  I will answer them for you below.

  1. Are you working on something meaningful and challenging – something for which you have about a 50% chance of succeeding? My 2013 New Year’s Resolution.  I’m finding it’s more difficult than I expected, and very rewarding as a result.
  2. Are you relating to other people at work or socially – people you like and to whom you feel close?  Very.  I get to relate to my family on a daily basis through school, play, and even housework.  I also get to enjoy visiting with my family and friends in NC as they are coming to visit us during our short stay in SC.  And, of course, PWOC has introduced me to some amazing women adding friends to my already bountiful bouquet of relationships.
  3. Do you feel recognized for the work you are doing – paid or unpaid?  Can you influence decisions and outcomes?  I do.  Every single time I get a compliment on my boys’ behavior or their smarts, I feel recognized.  My aunt recently paid me a high compliment comparing my boys to many other boys their age, basically saying they were more mature than their peers.  I wouldn’t really know, as I am not around many other 8-11 year olds.  I took her comments as a compliment to the job I’m doing as a mother, but as a teacher as well.  And, anytime someone comments on a blog post I’ve written, I feel recognized.  (No, I’m not shamelessly asking for comments, just being real, yo.)  And because I’m in a marriage where my vote counts, I absolutely do influence decisions and outcomes, every day.  I have a say, my opinions count, my ideas are valued.

If the answer is yes in every case, then you will be motivated.  I am motivated.

Part 3, which I will discuss in the next post, helped me take my broad plan and put into a daily agenda.  See you then!

For more posts in this series:
Series Intro
Part 1:  (Pause)
Part 2a:  (What is This Year About?)

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in About my faith, personal development. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 18 Minutes: Part 2b (Finding My Annual Focus)

  1. Loving these posts! You are a great mom! and a wonderful friend! 🙂 Love you!

  2. Gen Peterson says:

    I’m loving these posts, too. You & Kelly amaze me!!!

  3. Christy says:

    Wow, just reading your goals is overwhelming. There’s nothing on your list that I, myself, wouldn’t also like to achieve, but the daily task of doing it all just seems insurmountable. How do you fit it all in your day?

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m actually going to be posting about that tomorrow! 🙂

      The trick is that you can’t get it all done. You have to pick and choose just what you really want to. Some good things may need to go in order to get only the great things done.

  4. Pingback: 18 Minutes: Part 3 (What is This Day About?) | thehamricks

  5. Pingback: 18 Minutes: Part 4 (What is This Moment About?) | thehamricks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s