Monday, January 4, 2016

FOCUS - My #OneWord for 2016

2016. A new year. It is a time where many set goals, make resolutions, and aim for something more. I am no different, although, over the years, I have come to despise this annual tradition.

Most years, I make promises to exercise, eat healthier, rest more, read more, do more than the year before. By mid-January, that is all lost as I find myself back in the same old situation. I am not upset that I did not attain my goal or resolution. How could I do more than before when my plate was already full? I needed to find a different outlook on the new year, one which would not add to this plate or take anything away, but just reorganize it.

Last January, I saw a lot of wonderful blog posts and tweets, all with the hashtag #OneWord. One word to concentrate on during the course of the year, to center one’s energy toward, originating from Jon Gordon’s book One Word that Will Change Your Life. A simple concept, yet so powerful. No more goals or resolutions. Just One Word.

So, when the clock struck 12 this year, I started to ponder my #OneWord. So many to choose from! What was one word that would help me shape my year, focus my attention to become better than the year before, harnessing attributes I want to see in my leadership as well as in my school? One word that would define it all for me this year.

As a former English teacher, I had a lot of words swirling around my head. Passion. Determination. Positivity. Perseverance. Grit. Fortitude. I looked up definitions, synonyms, searching for a word that would clearly define where I wanted to go this year. While all of the words I looked at, read from others’ blogs, and thought about are truly wonderful words and meanings I resonate with, these words did not strike that deep chord that I wanted to feel when thinking of my #OneWord.

So, I put the idea aside for a while.

However, before I could completely change my train of thought, my #OneWord hit me like a ton of bricks.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines focus as: “...a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding; a point of concentration; directed attention”. In essence, focus is an emphasis on clarity, honing in on one particular task or attribute.

In another definition, focus is not simply just an emphasis on a particular task, but it is also about a visual perception of being clear. For instance, I am as blind as a bat without my glasses or contacts, the world of fuzz surrounding me. While I can see movement and objects, they are not clear until I use my lens to focus on my surroundings. So, with my lens, I now can focus on what is around me, bringing clarity to an otherwise fuzzy world.

With my fast-paced life as a principal/lead learner and a mom of 3 growing boys, there is quite a bit that swirls around me daily. I want to be my best at all I do, but often times, I feel pulled in so many directions that I am not doing anyone any service, including myself. I enjoy being busy. I enjoy learning and dabbling in many projects at one time. However, if I am to be my best, I must focus in the moment, working through the task at hand well before moving on to the next moment. Thus, my #OneWord for 2016 must be FOCUS.

Focus At Home
There is nothing quiet about my home, but that is what I love about it. A high school principal husband, and three loud, wrestling boys are always busy at home. With that said, I will focus my attention more this year on what is happening when my boys are awake, giving my full attention to them instead of trying to multitask all the school business that awaits my attention. My focus needs to be on their needs in those moments, being full present in their happenings. That will mean I will be grabbing a Nerf gun for a family Nerf battle from time to time and being the wrestling dummy for the new moves they just learned at practice. My family is most important in my life, and I want to remain focused on this while I am with them.

Focus At School
So much has changed and has been changing in education in recent years. While it is always important to be moving forward, using your vision to guide and drive outcomes, it is also important not to be trying to implement so many changes at one time that the transformational efforts are lost at sea. Growth and change in what we do for the betterment of our schools and our students comes with time and does not need to be done at once, nor is it effective to try to accomplish all tasks at once. So, my focus at school will be clear - use our school’s vision to implement a clear action plan, focused on instruction and growth efforts for all. We will focus on one action step at a time, building our own questions and seeking our own answers with discussion and using our resources. And with this focus, I hope to bring more clarity in our mission throughout our school, streamlining to our staff, students, parents, and community what our school is all about.

Focus Professionally
As a leader, I am continually trying to grow, learn, and be better than the day before. Yet, this can pull me in multiple directions because there are so many great books, blogs, articles, and resources out there to read. Right now, I can honestly say I have started 7 different books. None of these I started in the last few months are finished. So, I must remain focused. I want to focus on one growth aspect at a time, one book a month. In addition, I will remain focused on building my PLN, using social media to guide me through my journey of becoming a better leader. Instead of trying to do as much as possible in my growth, I will focus on one attribute, one path at a time so I can continue my journey, but keep focused while doing so.

Focus Personally
With all that I continually work toward, I must find time for myself. I pride myself as a multi-tasker. Yet at times, I wear myself too thin, taking an emotional and physical toll on my body. There have been moments in the last year where I have attempted to tackle too much at once. Thus my real intention behind the word FOCUS. In keeping focused on the tasks for others, I must keep focused for my own sanity as well, being intentional with building whitespace into my daily routine, and keeping myself focused on one task at a time. If I cannot focus personally, none of my professional focus will ever be attained.

To Begin...
My first task to remain focused will be to update my Google Keep lists, creating one for each area I have listed, then keeping only one item on each list at a time to stay on track. It is time for me to stay focused!

“Focus, Amy.”
Keep your eyes forward, glancing back for reflection, but using that compass to guide your path, one step at a time. Focus Forward.


  1. WOW, that makes me dizzy just reading this. I do need to come up with one word, but don't know what it is yet. thanks for the information.