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Last week I talked about how I’m setting goals based on a one-word monthly mantra. Today I thought I’d share a) the process I’m using to choose each month’s word and b) a faux calligraphy tutorial. This way, if you want to join me, you can pick an awesome word and write it down all fancy-like to help you remember it every day.
First, let’s talk about words.
I know some people get all “semantics, schemantics” or think crimson, scarlet, carmine, vermillion, etc. are excessive when plain red will suffice. But words matter. They’re important to me, and I believe they hold power to change things + people for good or ill.
So when I decided to choose one single word to repeat to myself, to help me achieve the goals I’ve set, to keep myself on track all month, I wanted it to be just right. After some reflecting and pondering, I selected a word that I’ve been really happy with these past ten days. It is sufficiently (metaphorically) kicking my booty.
Wanna know what it is? I’ll tell you in the minute. First: the process and a few possibilities.
Here’s what I did–and what you can do–to narrow down from seventy bajillion options to the perfect monthly mantra.
Critique the previous month.
Did it feel chaotic and overwhelming? Were your creative juices flowing? Was it difficult to stay motivated? Were your kids extra quarrelsome? Did your work drain or invigorate you? Were your basic physical needs met? Did you finish that project/have lunch with that friend/do whatever it was you kept meaning to do?
Only you can pinpoint what went well and what didn’t. It’s not always comfortable to pin those things down, especially the negative ones, but don’t skip this step! Reflection is an important part of growth. And the beauty of a monthly mantra–instead of an annual one–is you get a chance to reflect + redirect more frequently. Once you’ve mentally reviewed last month…
Consider how you’d like to feel by the beginning of next month.
What would you like to do differently? What went well that you could keep doing? Are there any major plans or life changes you need to prepare for between now and then?
Look at both your calendar and your expectations for the next 4-5 weeks, then…
Connect with your priorities.
What area of your life requires the most attention this month? Are your resources being allocated to things that really matter to you? Are you losing sight of the things that are most important? Do you simply need to fine tune the balance of your life?
You can read why I think this step is critical here, or you can just move on to the final step…
Choose a word to help you stay on target.
Not every word will be inspiring to every person, or even to the same person at a different point in time. That’s why the above steps are so important. You want to choose a word that is meaningful to you now. Something that will give you the boost you need to make each month easier, smoother, more exciting, more purposeful.
You may have noticed from the examples I’m including that I lean toward verbs. They give me something I can actually do. (Muttering “patience” to myself mostly just reminds me how impatient I am.) However, there’s no need to limit yourself. If a noun or adjective or even a short phrase speaks to you, use it! This process should be a positive one, not another source of unnecessary stress, so tweak it as needed till it works for you!
Now that you have your monthly mantra, write it down! Scrawl it on the bathroom mirror, or set it as your phone’s wallpaper, or follow the steps below to hand letter it and tape it up where you’ll see it every day.
Tutorial: Simple Faux Calligraphy
- Using a pencil, write your word in cursive. Create a little extra space between + within each letter than you normally would. (That’s why I like using pencil first. I rarely like how it comes out the first time, and erasers are my friend.)
- Trace over pencil with ink. Identify the down strokes of each letter. Down strokes are thicker than up strokes in true calligraphy, so take a minute to notice where your pen moved down while drawing each letter in order to mimic that with your faux calligraphy.
- Thicken the down strokes. Try to follow the existing curves of your letters and keep the thickness of each down stroke uniform.
- Embellish as desired. Add a wreath or flourishes or shadows or whatever else your heart desires.
That’s it! The process is so simple but the results look so fancy.
What I love best about faux calligraphy is you don’t need an expensive hard-to-find calligraphy-specific pen to do it. I used a combination of Pilot G2 Metallics and G2 Premium pens (and black + grey markers) to letter and/or embellish all the images in this post and am so pleased with the results. There’s a reason Pilot G2 is the #1 selling gel ink brand in America: smooth ink flow, comfortably grip, so many colors (including metallics!), and guys? They’re at Target.
Be honest, you’re there already. Why not go pick up a pack or two? Pilot G2 has been proven to write longer than any other gel pen on the market, so you can practice and practice and practice your faux calligraphy. Now you have no excuses to procrastinate!
Bonus: you can join the Target G2 Overachievers Club to receive promotions, product news, Overachiever life hacks, giveaways, and more! Go here to sign up online, or text G2CLUB to 40679 to join and you’ll receive a coupon to kick off your new membership.
Still curious what my one-word mantra for January is? Watch Queen Shonda’s tips for being an overachiever and see if you can guess. I was pleasantly surprised to see she and I are on the same page. Heaven knows she’s got her game figured out; I can only dream of being like her when I grow up.
Right there, point #3. That’s my word. FOCUS.
I’ve been so distracted, so distractable lately, that it was a pretty obvious choice. If I’m going to get anything done–let alone be an overachiever! HA!–I need to discipline myself better to focus on the task at hand. Give individuals, especially my children, my full attention. Concentrate my efforts instead of trying to multitask. Tune out the siren song of social media and do what I actually want + need to get done.
(Also work on creating sharper photos. The irony is not lost on me.)
So if you need me this month, I’ll be over here reminding myself to focus, Jen, focus. Here’s hoping I’ve gotten better at it by February so I can choose a new mantra! I may have to head over here and find out how Pilot G2 pens are helping other overachievers to get some ideas!
Did you choose a word or theme for the year? What was it? What do you think of choosing a new one each month? Too much hassle or not a bad idea? What words might you consider for your monthly mantra?