I’ve chosen a word, now what? 5 practical ways to make your word real.

It’s all very good and well to choose a word of the year but sometimes I ask people a few months in, “how’s your word of the year going?” and they can’t even remember their word.

Don’t feel bad if this is you; it is very normal but that’s not to say we should accept that, throw up our hands and just leave it be.

My 14 words from 2009 to 2022

  • 2009 – simplify
  • 2010 – consolidate
  • 2011 – courage
  • 2012 – create
  • 2013 – trust
  • 2014 – shine
  • 2015 – enough
  • 2016 – joy
  • 2017 – give
  • 2018 – fun
  • 2019 – bold
  • 2020 – light
  • 2021 – play
  • 2022 – delight

After 14 years of me choosing and living with a word, I’d like to share a few things that work for me:

  1. Set your word as your screensaver/ password or desktop wallpaper on your laptop or phone

Out of sight means out of mind. If you have to type in that word as a password several times a day, it will stick. If you see it as your wallpaper on your phone when you reach for it 80 times a day (or so the stats say), you’ll start to remember it.

2. Make a policy for yourself around your word

E.g. if your word is connect, then maybe you’d say, “every time someone asks me on a friend date, I will say yes”. When my word was fun, I weighed up every commitment with “does this sound fun?” If it didn’t, I declined. My policy this year is to stop and take the picture (a sure source of delight to me afterwards even if I don’t feel like it in the moment)

3. Set goals for your word

Ask yourself monthly, “how can I _________ this month”. Where do I need a reminder that I am enough? Where can I take delight? How can I be brave? What needs to be nourished and how am I going to do it? Who can I connect with? What can I create?

4. Review how you did at the end of every month

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much did I move? Did I take enough action? Did I rest enough? is there enough balance? And so on. Use your word and make changes for next month if what you were doing wasn’t working.

Set a reminder in your phone otherwise you will most likely not remember. I call the last day of every month Goals Night for this very reason.

5. Stay open to your word

Yes, I just said in 3 above to set goals, but also stay open. Sometimes the need for your word will appear in unexpected ways. Last year my word was play and I have not worked as hard at my job in many many years. There was a need for me to remember to play. See? My 2016 word was joy and that was the year we bought this house and struggled to sell the previous one. I had to choose joy in those 3 months!

Bonus – buy a piece of jewellery or art

I have many necklaces and rings that remind me of my words through the years. I also bought a piece of art off etsy one year for courage.

What are the tips and tricks you’d like to share?

It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

This year’s challenge – to rest 22 in 2022

on a photowalk – these are very restful for me

I used Gretchen Rubin’s walk 20 in 2020 to simply track when during the month I got some exercise – around 12 times a month is standard for me as I have a 3 times a week habit.

Read 21 in 2021 was my most successful daily project – I chose to read 21 minutes from a non-fiction book (preferably on my shelves) and I made it. It was a great success and I cleared 32 books from my shelves and will continue until all my non-fiction is done!

I knew when Gretchen announced the rest 22 in 2022 challenge that it would be my hardest challenge yet – I am not given to rest and have battled with relaxing… always.

We are all different people and therefore, rest will mean different things to each of us. If you decide to do this project (some of you have already decided to join but remember, even if you haven’t yet decided, there’s no perfect time to start), just jump in.

Rest does not only mean sleeping. It might mean that for you, but it also might not.

As I thought about this challenge, I thought about what rest looks like for me:

  • lazy mornings in bed reading fiction (!) somehow feels very decadent
  • laying on my bed listening to an audiobook (and doing nothing else to use the time productively)
  • walking around my garden playing with my camera
  • actual napping (rare though this is)
  • going for a walk with my camera to capture things that delight my sense of sight
  • intentional watching TV (I am not a TV person but occasionally I find something I might want to watch, and that kind of watching is restful)
  • afternoon reading with a cup of tea

We’re one month in; how has my #rest22in2022 project been going?

Honestly, but not surprisingly, not as well as I expected.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with my weekend to-do lists. Here’s another one. These lists have had a section called “relax” on them for years. This is quite intentional because I otherwise would busy myself with work and never give myself permission to “do nothing”.

Therefore, the weekends are easy for the #rest22 project.

As for the weekdays, I have to consciously remember to choose something for that day. I had a week where I put a reminder in my phone to rest and that worked well. Why didn’t I continue? Absolutely no idea – I think it was because I finished the fiction book (Ask Again, Yes) and so I relaxed with the resting 😉

In writing this post, I realised something – rest works well on the weekend because I plan for it. I need to plan for the workday rest too. I’ll put a timer in my phone and report back to let you know how that’s working.

Have you joined the #rest22in2022 challenge?

What have you defined as rest for you?

How to use the one-minute rule at work

We’ve spoken before about the one-minute rule. We also talked about ways to use this rule at home.

What about at work?

Here’s how you can use the one-minute rule…

with your emails

  • if you’ve opened and read the email, and don’t need to refer back to it, delete it 🙂
  • if you need to delegate, forward it so that other people can work on it while you go through the rest of your inbox
  • decide there and then on your next action step and quickly type into the beginning of the subject line READ/ MEETING/ TALK TO ___ so that when you’re ready to work, you know exactly what to do next

in meetings

I like to write my meeting notes on the top 70 – 80% of the page and leave the bottom section for actions, OR sometimes there’s so much being said, I just write notes and later as we summarise, I allocate actions and I write the initials of the person in the margin. Now for the rule…

  • do your quick actions in one-minute bites immediately after a meeting
  • many actions are multi-step actions but you can always do the very first step even if that first step is just to allocate a block of time to work through the actions (“actions from XYZ meeting”)

with daily or weekly planning

  • if you’re a daily planner, start the next day’s to-do list page and keep it ready
  • as things pop up, add them to your list so you don’t have to keep it in your head or on random sticky notes in your notebook
  • the same principle works for weekly planning but since I don’t know if I need two more pages to close off the week or eight, I use a long post-it note for next week’s actions. When I’m then ready to make my actual weekly list, I have all my priorities in one place.

How do you already use the one-minute rule at work? Can you think of where you could use it?

How to use the one-minute rule at home

Have you heard about the one-minute rule? Even if you haven’t heard it referred to as such, I’m 100% sure you know of it.

What is the one-minute rule?

You take one minute to do something now rather than putting it on a list (mental or physical) to do later.

Why does the one-minute rule work?

It is quicker to take the time to do it now rather than in the long run because you have momentum.

Yes, it is sometimes annoying to take 60 extra seconds but I love thinking about my future self not doing something later 🙂

Let’s talk about some examples in your home:

Kitchen

  • Put food items away and wipe down the counter before having your meal
  • Take freezer items out when you think about your evening meal
  • After your shopping is packed away, take your reusable bags to your car or put next to the front door immediately. Don’t expect to remember them later – we all have friends with 27 bags in their kitchens that keep buying more when they’re at the grocery store.

Bathrooms

  • Spray down your basin and give it a quick clean with a sponge or those new-to-me cloths with microfibre on the one side and a scourer on the other.
  • While you’re at it, give your toilet a quick swish and swipe (a la Flylady)
  • Hang up your towels and put your laundry in the hamper immediately after showering rather than later

Lounge

  • Take a minute to straighten the cushions and put the remotes and coasters back in position rather than having to straighten up the following day.
  • Take all the mugs and glasses (and plates, if you allow eating in the lounge!) back to the kitchen.

Where do you use the one-minute rule at home currently? Can you think of some examples where this might work for you?

Are you using your Tendency?

If you follow me on Instagram, especially on my bookstagram account, marciareadsalot, you’ll know that I’m doing a project called #read21in2021, Gretchen Rubin’s 2021 habits project.

The idea is simple – you read every day for 21 minutes. The execution is not always that simple though.

Let’s talk through the Tendencies on a high level and see how each tendency might approach a project like this:

Rebel
If the Rebel decides that they identify as a reader, and they want to read more, they will change the project to suit them. My son told me it sounded fine but he would read for 25 minutes a day, not 21 minutes. He didn’t even keep it up for a week at first but he reads nothing for a week or two… and then he’ll read one book every day for weeks on end. Swings, roundabouts 🙂

Questioner
This person will need to understand why they’d want to do something like this project. If they can’t see anything they’d like to change about their reading life or why they might want to do such a project, they wouldn’t even start.

Obliger
The Obliger will stick with the project if they do it with someone and hold each other accountable, or if they buddy read specific books with a friend. If left to their own devices, they might battle with justifying the “me time” for reading.

Upholder
Upholders love a project. Since this project comes with 365 little boxes to cross off, even better. Once an upholder decides how they would approach this project, they would figure out the best time of day and get to it.

I’m an upholder. Upholders also need to constantly check in with themselves that they’re still enjoying things and that they’re not blindly following along.  

This year I’m reading non-fiction from my physical (mostly) and Kindle shelves.

Do you know why this is working for me?

I change the type of books – dense, action-oriented, memoir, Christian non-fiction, etc. – and never read two of the same type of non-fiction one after the other.

I also read for exactly 21 minutes and not a minute longer (I set a timer! isn’t this very upholder-ish?!) unless a few extra minutes will result in a finished book. This means I never get bored and the task doesn’t feel overwhelming.

 I swop around between physical and Kindle. If I look through my physical bookshelf and I’m not in the mood for anything on that shelf, I check my Kindle. Sometimes I even check Scribd – there may be a book I own which is in an audio format that I might prefer.

 In the 9 months I’ve been doing this project, I’ve already read 22 (of 113 total) books. I hope to make it 30 by the end of this year, and continue into next year to finally finish all the non-fiction on my actual, physical bookshelf.

Did you spy this book on the shelf above? 😉

This is a post bout a reading project but it’s really about any project or habit.

If you want to get anything done or create a habit, it’s important to eliminate your own stumbling blocks and figure out what might get your project/ habit moving again.

I do offer laser coaching Four Tendencies sessions so if you’re interested, email me and let’s get you set up. 

Meanwhile, do tell me how you’re using your Tendency in your reading life. I love to talk books and reading, and I love to hear from you!

The one time I’ll tell you to actually buy more

Let me tell you a quick story.

I have a slight irritation on a daily basis when I go down to the kitchen to make a mug of tea between meetings, make my sandwich for lunch or go cook supper.

I arrive in the kitchen, realise my phone could use a quick charge and both chargers are upstairs, one next to my bed and one on my desk.

I have a charger that lives in my car. My mother-in-law bought me a (seemingly boring) gift about 3 years ago – a USB car charger for my iphone – and it has been one of the best gifts ever. Tip – if you use an iphone, always make sure that the charger is iphone-certified so that after an update, it still works (I’ve made this mistake before and had to donate the then-useless chargers to android phone users)

Two weeks ago I had a thought – why don’t I just buy another charger and keep it downstairs?

I admit that my initial thought was – am I not being lazy by not running up and down the stairs to get one of the other chargers? Maybe… but laziness is not my biggest concern in life right now. I have the other problem – relaxing enough.

So I bought not one, but two additional chargers. As you see from the picture above, the desk charger is on its last legs.

While I’m a big proponent of considering your purchases and spending mindfully on the things that spark joy, I also think if the “spending out” will add to your happiness and decrease unnecessary stress, just buy the thing.

I remember someone (was it DesignMom?) saying once that she went out and bought six additional hairbrushes for her four daughters to use.

Which items do you (maybe) need to buy one or two more of?

For this last quarter, do you need a reset?


I shared on Instagram that I applied for a new job and got it! It’s a promotion and I have both direct and indirect reports, and while I’m loving it, it’s a lot. Especially since I’m still doing my old job until I recruit suitable replacements.

I decided that this is a good a time as any for a reset.

As Gretchen Rubin often says, the Strategy of the Clean Slate is powerful so I’m using this time to rethink how I want to move forward at work. In financial services, we’ve all been working way too much since Covid hit last March and I honestly think this level of intense work is unsustainable.

  1. Do you need a reset in the way you work?
  2. Do you need to move more during the day?
  3. Do you need to eat better and stock up on healthy snacks?
  4. Do you need better work boundaries for yourself and others?

(all of these are a yes for me too)


What about a reset in other areas of your life?

  1. Do you need to catch up on some personal medical or other errands  – dentist, gynae, haircuts? 
  2. Does your home need a bit of a refresh? As much as I clean and organise throughout the year, there is nothing like spring to inspire me to organise little spaces and get a few tolerations sorted. Earlier today I emailed the carpet cleaner and I’ll be booking the window cleaners soon.
  3. Does your exercise routine need a shake up? It seems that mine gets shaken up every 6 months or so even though it is not intentional. My existing Zumba classes have been fully booked for the last couple of weeks no matter how early in the day I book. I’m not a fan of just pitching and “hoping for the best” as some have suggested. I’d rather intentionally book elsewhere and know I have a space – that suits my upholder self much better. So I decided to lean into it (less stress!) and have just booked elsewhere for now. And look at my gorgeous view while I drive to the new gym…

If you need a reset, and you need some help strategising, that’s my super power so contact me when you’re ready for your laser coaching session.

Otherwise, comment and tell me where and how you’re resetting in your life.

How to have healthy sleep

It’s no secret that I love my sleep.

I both enjoy sleep and I sleep well. Some of it is personality, I think, but I do think I have some very good sleep habits too.

Whenever I put up my sleep stats on Instagram, I always get so many direct messages from people who say things like, “oh that must be nice” and “how do you sleep so much?”.

Well, I sleep a lot because I’ve realised that when I’m tired I won’t be as productive as I will be when I’m rested. Because when I’m up after a good night’s sleep, I’m a machine 🙂

Sleep also has many other benefits like being good for your mental health, stress relief, immune system, heart, good for managing weight. In addition, and this is a big benefit, it’s good for your memory, and helps you focus and concentrate. I also heard Lisa Genova on a podcast say that deep sleep helps clear out brain waste which prevents Alzheimer’s.

Here are a few of my tips:

  1. Set a sleep goal. My goal is 7 hours 30 every night. I upgraded my Fitbit recently and while my Fitbit now gives me a sleep score, my sleep score is always better when I sleep more than 7h30.
  2. Sleep when you’re tired. Realise that when you’re tired, the very best thing you can do no matter how much work there is still to get done, is to actually sleep.
  3. Move your body. I sleep my best sleep on the days I have a good workout. It’s boring to say this but our mothers were onto something when they told us to go outside and play.
  4. Stop caffeine at lunch. This is not a problem for me, but I know many people who do not have good sleep habits when they have coffee after lunch. Dr Rangan Chatterjee, in his book, The 4 Pillar Plan, talks about how, at bedtime, about 25% of caffeine is still in our system. If you don’t sleep well, stop your coffee at 12 and see if it makes a difference.
  5. Avoid your phone before bed. Everyone gives me a hard time about this one but hey, if you want to sleep better, avoid your phone for a good 1 – 2 hours before bed. You can charge your phone at an outlet across the room. I charge mine next to my bed but it’s on the floor, face down, almost slipped under the bed. I also don’t look at Whatsapp after my phone goes dark (shortly after my work day ends). There is a downside to it but I’d rather have a few more messages in the morning than have restless or disrupted sleep.
  • How is your sleep on a scale of 1 – 10?
  • Do you have good sleep hygiene?
  • Do you spend time on your phone before bed?

If you want to work on these tips, all you have to do is start working on one at a time, track your sleep, and see how it is affected.

How to do a quick and effective half-year review

It might be that I’m such a big fan of reflecting and reviewing precisely because it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I recognise the process as valuable though which is why I take the time to do a half-year review every year.

Your review is only a 20 – 30 minute process but it will make you feel that you closed off the first half of the year and can focus afresh on the 6 months ahead.

What do you need?

  1. 20 – 30 minutes
  2. A drink of your choice – hot or cold
  3. Notebook/ bullet journal
  4. Pen

You could type into a computer or your phone but I recommend doing it with a pen and paper so that your brain slows down enough to process as you think through the questions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Use all, or just use the first 5 questions:

  1. What went well, and why?
  2. What could be better? How?
  3. What have you learned about yourself?
  4. What energised you? How can you bring more of this into your life?
  5. If you chose a word of the year, has it been guiding/ inspiring/ clarifying for you? How are you living out your word of the year? Do you need to change your word? Here’s your permission slip if you want to do that.
  6. Looking at your goals, have you made good progress and are you on track?
  7. Are there any goals you need to let go of? Let them go and be kind to yourself.
  8. Do you know why those goals were no longer motivating you?
  9. Looking forward… what are the 3 main things you want to focus on for the next 3 – 6 months?
  10. Do you have the necessary support? I would love to help you.

Reset and refresh sessions

  • I will send you a prep pack once I receive your payment which you work though and return to me 48 hours before your session so I can spend some time beforehand preparing.
  • We meet on Skype or Zoom, whichever option you prefer.
  • We will discuss what you want to keep in your life going forward and more importantly, what you want to let go of.
  • We might set new goals and develop action plans, or tweak existing goals to suit where you are right now.
  • My goal is that you leave the session encouraged, inspired and that you have clarity on the way forward.
  • The sessions are 60 minutes long and your investment in yourself is $75/ R1000 (previous clients get a discount!)
  • I encourage you to book another session in 6 months, but only if you think it will be helpful.
Contact me now to schedule your session. I work with clients all over the world so we will find a time that will work for your time zone.

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