177: Focus for a new year
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Every December for the last several years, I’ve chosen a word of focus for the coming year. It helps me with goals, purpose, and serves as a sort of foothold to go back to when things get out of whack. Today we’re going to talk about the word(s) I have chosen as my focus for the coming year, 2022.
Last year’s word: Lighthouse
Last year’s word was lighthouse. I don’t know that I really made a big thing about sharing it with a lot of people, but it was a topic of conversation with a couple friends throughout the year. The purpose of choosing lighthouse as my word was to try and be a bright spot in the darkness we were coming out of in 2020. (And who had any idea what fun 2021 was going to bring, right?)
But with lighthouse, my focus was to serve as a reminder—a guiding light—towards something more positive and more productive than what the mainstream was feeding (and continues to feed.) So lighthouse worked its way into a lot of different things in my life in 2021 and it’s interesting to look back on how I did or didn’t make the best use of that word in various situations I encountered.
Figuring out 2022’s word
When I started to think about this coming year, there were a lot of things that went into play in choosing a word. I took a look at the world and then took a deep honest dive into the corners of my head and came to a realization: there are a lot of things I want to do—either personally or with A Farmish Kind of Life—and I get in my own way a lot. In fact, if I’m completely honest, I am the thing standing in my own way. And in order to move forward, I had to figure out why I’m standing in my own way all the time.
And I was having a hard time putting my finger on what the reason was.
I don’t know if the stars lined up just right or what, but I ended up in a conversation a few months ago with a friend about something totally different, and she happened to say this:
“I don’t know if you know this, and even if you do, you probably don’t believe it, but A Farmish Kind of Life is kind of a thing. People like what you have to say, they trust you, and you’re different because of how you say things. People need that right now.”
And I don’t know if that person knows what a huge five second conversation that was, but it kind of set me on a path of figuring stuff out. There were some good revelations that came out of that, but also some gross realizations I needed to be honest about so I could move forward.
And because of that I’ve chosen two words for this year. I need them both. They each have a purpose separately, but together they have the potential to make 2022 a really epic year for me.
And when I go into these words, I’m gonna be sharing a few things from the insides of my head that you might think “wut?” or you might think “oh, I totally get that….” Nonetheless, I’m sharing it because I think it proves a point: that things aren’t always what they seem. That confidence and sass and smarts don’t translate into all aspects of life, and that humility doesn’t always stem from a useful place.
My internal word for 2022: Legitimate
As part of digging into my 2022 words, we’re going to talk for a bit about imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is real, y’all.
Imposter syndrome is where you doubt your skills, your intelligence, your worth. You don’t think you’re as cool as the other people in the room think you are, and you’re worried they’re going to figure out that you’re a fake. An imposter. Like you don’t belong in the line up of awesome.
For me, imposter syndrome is being mentioned in the same sentence with Jack Spirko and Nicole Sauce and wondering if someone made a mistake. Imposter syndrome is when Nicole Sauce asks you to speak at LFTN 2022, and there is that voice gnawing at the back of your head thinking, “everyone else she asked first was probably busy.”
Yes. Amy from A Farmish Kind of Life deals with imposter syndrome. A lot.
The cool thing about life is that sometimes things just line up and this topic of imposter syndrome has floated through several conversations I’ve had lately with fellow content creators. I think it’s common for people to assume that once you get to a certain level of whatever, that you’re super confident and that you know you own the space you’re in. So when new people come into the creator space, they just assume you’re rockin’ and unshakeable and self-assured. And I’ve had to tell some folks that imposter syndrome is real and (at least for me) it never goes away, the voice just gets a little quieter.
It is still weird when I hear myself say things like, “my readers/listeners/followers/audience.” I’m not new at this, and those words still trip off my tongue. I still feel like a fake when I say them.
When I started digging into this, I realized part of the whole issue is that y’all think I’m more legitimate than I think I am. When my friend said “I don’t know if you know this but A Farmish Kind of Life is kind of a thing…” there was something that clicked.
My issue is that I don’t think I’m legit.
I find that in my work with A Farmish Kind of Life, I’m spending a lot of time with people who embrace something about me that I haven’t figured out how to embrace myself. Y’all (or most of y’all) think of me as legitimate. That I legitimately belong in this space. That I belong here. That I legitimately know what I’m talking about. That I’m not lying. That I’m not a fake. That I’m not messing with you. That I’m not an imposter. That I belong in the homesteading/lifestyle design/whatever you want to call this space with all these other crazy awesome creators. Y’all think I am legit.
So my first word for 2022 is legitimate. It means authorized, permitted, approved. Allowed. It also means the real deal. And I *need* to have that word has my focus because it reminds me I belong here. I have a spot here at the campfire. I built this house and there is a room for me and I’m going to live in it. Why is that so stupidly difficult for me to be okay with or accept?
I had someone on social media tell me the other day, “Amy, you’re so humble and I think a lot of people could learn something from you about that.” Now I want to be honest here. There is a difference between humility and not knowing your worth. Because saying, who cares, I’m just Amy from a Farmish Kind of Life can be said with humility or it can be said with a disbelief that what I do matters in the space that I’m in.
The really crazy thing about imposter syndrome is it can really mess things up for you in relating to or conversing with other people. While I am thinking I’m a bigger goon than I actually am, there are other people who assume I’m way more awesome than I really am. So in a conversation with these people, they stumble all over themselves because ohemgee, you’re Amy from A Farmish Kind of Life! while I’m thinking “oh great, now this person knows what a total knob I actually am”, and conversations get really bumbled up and complicated because we’re both coming from a place that isn’t even real.
I know that this fear of legitimacy has kept me and A Farmish Kind of Life and the community and the things I could be involved in stagnant. It has kept me from growing in ways that I could. It has kept me from expanding in ways that I could. It has kept me from building things I want to build because of some deep seated, stupid fear that I don’t actually belong here. Some stupid fear that I’m going to get kicked out of the club because I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place.
So legitimate is my first word—my internal word—for 2022. I’m allowed here. I’m approved here. I am permitted to be here. I’m real. I lived the experiences. I learned these things. I spoke and wrote the words. I belong here. I can teach these things and share my experiences with you and hang out with the cool kids because I am legitimate in this space that I built.
As a way to stay accountable to you about the things I want to do in the next year, here are a few ways I will work on embracing “legitimate” as my 2022 word:
Creating boundaries, actual work hours: In a couple weeks, I will be talking about the pros and cons of being an entrepreneur and working from home, so we will dig more into this then, but there is a big difference between the ability to have a flexible schedule because you work from home and being flexible because you don’t give any credit or weight or worth to your business. And this has been a huge problem for me in the past. I love having flexibility. Flexibility is essential to our family for a lot of different reasons. BUT. If I am always changing my schedule to accommodate other people’s needs, that means the things I want to do/need to do aren’t happening, and that cuts away at the legitimacy of my to-do list. Even if I CAN change my schedule, it doesn’t mean that I always SHOULD.
In 2022 I will put boundaries on my business, which will help me remember I’m legitimate and that A Farmish Kind of Life, like my friend said, is kind of a thing.
How I talk about what I’m doing: My husband referred to me as an author years before I could ever utter those words myself. I always downplay what I do. It’s never a big deal. It’s hard for me to claim the actual thing that I’m spending all my time doing. Referring to A Farmish Kind of Life as “eh, it’s just this thing I kinda do,” is completely different than saying A Farmish Kind of Life is made up of a website, podcast, YouTube channel, an active social media community, a snail mail newsletter, books, etc, where I educate and encourage people in their homesteading, self-reliance, and lifestyle design endeavors.
In 2022, I will talk positively and truthfully about what I’ve done, experienced, and created, which will help me remember I’m legitimate. I will not pass this off as ain’t no big thang. I will be proud of what I’ve built.
Why me? Why not me? When I get asked to speak at a homesteading conference or a self reliance conference or I’m asked to join a group podcast like Fireside Freedom or whatever new opportunities come my way in 2022, I’m going to throat punch that little person sitting inside me who is saying “why are they asking me?” and answer back “why NOT me?”
Again, there is a difference between humility and not understanding your worth. And you can understand that you’re always learning and have more to learn without denying you’ve actually learned a few things in your time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Years ago, I remember standing in my garage with my hubby and we had Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast playing over the speakers while we processed some deer. Never in a bazillion years would I have ever imagined that one day I’d be sitting on the expert council in Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast. But just because I didn’t think that would happen doesn’t mean it didn’t. And the fact that it did should be a brick upside the head. Why me? Why not me? I’ve lived this life and I know a few things and I know how to talk about them.
I am legitimate.
My external word for 2022: Push
I thought I wanted my external word to be “grow” because there are so many ways I want to grow this year.
I tried to make “grow” fit, but it just didn’t seem to be the right word. I needed a more determined, deliberate, assertive word. I have things that I’ve created and built that I need to push forward and the word push seemed more intentional for my purposes.
This is an interesting choice of word because I think a lot of people see me as someone who is really sassy and who says it like it is. I have been told that I’m able to serve someone a really wicked difficult truth and make the person feel like they ate it on a spoonful of sugar. I’ve been told that I have a way of being both very sweet and oddly scary at the same time. So you would think someone who has those skills would also be someone who can “push” when “pushing” is what needs to happen. But there are so many ways that I have failed to push forward in places that I need to push forward. There are places in my life where I have stayed very comfortable. There are places in my life where I haven’t grown because I’m not willing to push.
Push works well with legitimate. I will push to do the things I’ve wanted to do because I will accept that I legitimately belong in the space. Sometimes I don’t push because of laziness. Sometimes I don’t push because I don’t want to be uncomfortable. But oftentimes I don’t push because I don’t feel like it’s a place that I legitimately belong in, and therefore it’s not my place to push.
See how these two words will work together?
Pushing forward in 2022
2022 will be full of pushing, and it will be interesting to see what comes of it. So, what kinds of things will I push into?
I will push A Farmish Kind of Life forward.
- I’m speaking at the LFTN 2022 Spring Workshop and possibly a couple other places.
- I’m also trying to create an in person gathering with a couple other localish (MN-WI) creators.
- I’m considering doing some in person teaching here at the farm about various aspects of homesteading
- I’m joining a group podcast, Fireside Freedom.
- I’m starting to get into more live streaming
- I’m reaching out to new audiences in new ways through different technology and media
- I’m starting a snail mail newsletter
- I’m starting a line of farmish products through my husband’s engraving business.
This stuff (and lots of other stuff, the list is long) requires me to push in order to make it happen. If I sit back, things will fizzle out—or at the very least, stagnate. I have to push to be able to grow. In the past I’ve sort of let things happen as they will. A Farmish Kind of Life was growing, but there wasn’t any real plan or intention behind it. What would happen if I put both palms behind all my plans and pushed it forward with some purpose?
That’s why people like Toolman Tim (another member of the Fireside Freedom Podcast) are so interesting for me to watch because in the grand scheme of things, he’s very new as a content creator… and he’s building this amazing audience, this amazing community, an amazing empire of sorts and it’s because he’s intentional and he’s purposeful. He pushes.
You guys, A Farmish Kind of Life has been a thing since 2009. That’s 12 years… but it’s 12 years of just letting it happen. There was no push in any of that. Imagine if I accepted and understood and believed that people found value in A Farmish Kind of Life and I gave it a little push? And then another little push?
What if I got really ballsy and gave it a big ol’ shove?
I will push myself forward.
Into things I want to do. Into things that I want to change. Into things that those around me don’t necessarily agree with. I will push into exploring life.
I will push past, “Gee, I wonder what kind of dumpster fire 2022 is going to be” and push into productivity every single day, even more than I have been.
I will push into discomfort because very often there are really amazing things on the other side of discomfort. I will also push connection deeper and I will push some relationships further instead of just skittering across the surface.
I don’t know about you, but I think 2022 was made for a great big push towards life and away from all that isn’t life.
After you choose a focus word…
My words are legitimate (which is really an internal thing to work on) and push (which is an active, outside thing to work on.) So what do I do with these words? What should you do with your words?
See the word: Write it out and put it on your mirror. Your computer screen. The background of your phone. Your coffee mug. The dash of your car.
Think about the word (or journal about it) when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night. Where do I need to push today? Did I step up and claim my legitimacy today?
When you’re in the midst of an issue, put these words up against it. Is the issue I’m facing due to me not focusing on these words? How can the words I’ve chosen for the year help my situation?
And if this year is anything like years past with words I’ve chosen, your understanding of these words will morph throughout the year. Meaning you choose them in the beginning of the year and at the end of the year you will have a totally different understanding for why you chose those words and what those words have helped you to do.
I’ve had friends who chose the word grow, who later said that is not at all how I thought grow was going to play itself out in my life.
Same with appreciate.
Same with honesty.
Same with brave.
You will go on a journey with your word through the whole year and that word will weave its way through 2022 in amazing, surprising ways, and uncomfortable ways. But keep that word at the forefront of your mind, on the tip of your tongue, and pasted behind your eyelids, and weigh each day against it.
So. What is your focus word for the coming year?
— Amy Dingmann, 12-28-21
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