It’s weird how having a “word” as my motto for the year has kind of changed me the last couple years. No, these words have not miraculously molded me into a new and improved self instantaneously. But having them to think about in the back of my mind all year has really helped me remember what’s most important. Having these words has changed little things that I do to help me eventually tweak the “big picture” of what I want to become.

My big word I will use as my “mantra” for the year 2010 came to me easy as pie this time around.


Now, I know what you’re thinking: “that’s everyone’s goal for a new year…boring.” I know this is a very simple, commonplace word. Focus.

But let’s think of it in more depth. Let’s think of it in a photographer’s sense…

What is focused on is what the “big picture” of the photo is all about.

Take this picture, for instance:If the harmonica is what the picture’s supposed to be about, great.

But what if the lamp…the long-term, more far away thing is really the most important thing to be focusing on? I mean, the harmonica is shiny and interesting, and it’s right there in the forefront. It’s easy for it to be distracting. But if the lamp is really what’s more important, the photographer needs to keep an eye on that sucker:(photos compliments of Max during a little photo tutorial I was giving him a couple years back)

This is how my life is. I know that the lamp (the real, important stuff…the gospel, my family, good relationships, etc.) is there, but I tend to get so distracted with the little, shiny harmonica things in life (house redecorating, my hair, which color of paint I like best…) littering my path. The day-to-day stuff overwhelms me.

Sure, there are big-deal things there in my path to “what’s most important”…the laundry needs to be done, the stacks of papers that come home in the mail and in backpacks need to be sorted, my pictures need to be labeled, blah blah blah. But all the minutia of life sometimes gets in the way of what’s really most important (the lamp).

Often my life seems like I’m running in circles…on my way to do one thing, getting distracted and doing another, then thinking of another, and the first thing I set out to do never gets done.

There are many variations of this same, distracted scenario that go on in my life. The spiritual distractions are there too. And all the doctors I’m supposed to keep up with boggle my mind.

I love this quote from Elder Uchtdorf:
“We know what matters most in life—the Light of Christ teaches this to everyone…I imagine that any [of us] listening to my voice today, if asked to prepare a talk on the subject “what matters most,” could and would do an excellent job. Our weakness is in failing to align our actions with our conscience.“Pause for a moment and check where your own heart and thoughts are. Are you focused on the things that matter most? How you spend your quiet time may provide a valuable clue. Where do your thoughts go when the pressure of deadlines is gone? Are your thoughts and heart focused on those short-lived fleeting things that matter only in the moment or on things that matter most?”

I do know what matters most. But is my heart there? Sometimes, sadly, not so much. I need to “align my actions with my conscience.”

So my FOCUS this year will go toward the three things I have deemed to “matter most” at this point in my life:

1)–focus SPIRITUALLY…more heartfelt personal prayers, squeezing in meditation time and scripture study
2)–focus on FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS…”surrendering” and “being there”
3)–focus on HEALTH…sprucing up all my doctor files, getting Lucy to a nutritionist, getting to the bottom of Claire’s UTIs and my kidney issues

Do I think just because I have written this down it will just magically come to pass? No. I realize I have to have a serious PLAN.

The word “FOCUS” will be up on my wall as a reminder. I’m going to have a goal each month on each of my three “focuses.” (A goal each month seems less daunting than just trying to change in the blink of an eye.) There will be more ideas, I’m sure. But half the battle is done: I know what I need to do.

I’m so thankful for a new year and a fresh beginning.

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  1. so want to see something strange? i have followed your blog for the last couple of years and have loved your idea of a word/theme. i am part of a homemaking blog and some of us posted our 'resolution' stuff on there. check out my posting here:

    'focus' was on my mind too. i even have a flipping quote from elder uchtdorf!!! na na na na-na na na na (twilight zone music). here's to focus for you & i both this year.

  2. Awesome word! I love reading everyone's 2010 word for the year. I think I will keep these in mind for my coming years.

    This year I've already chosen. Mine will be "Steadfast". Kind of like Focus don't you think? : D

    Anyway. Happy New Year! We're cheering ya on, as you focus.

  3. I picked focus too! This is the second year I've done the word and I love it. It IS that constant reminder to keep me movin. I love your post and how it clarified some things for me…that I get so distracted. Love your blog.

  4. Hey you . . . just checking in also. It is always great to hear from you.

    OK- I am so doing this this year. What a great idea to pick a word and work on it all year long. Love it!!

    Looks like you all had a fabulous christmas and now back to the grind of life. Your kids are dang cute and getting big and that little Lucy of yours . . . man oh man I would take her home with me if I could.

    Hope all is well. Keep in touch.


  5. This may be a jump in the dark, but my friends daughter has been suffering from frequent UTI's and could not figure out what was causing them. Until they went to an allergist and found out she is allergic to sugar of all things.

  6. My word for 2010 is "contentment". I am goingi through a very difficult pregnancy (due in May), I always have quite an adjustment after birth and a new baby and I have realized this year may just be plain hard for me and my family. I need to choose to be content and satisfied in this particular situation instead of always looking ahead and hoping things will be better later.

  7. focus was my word last year and i'm afraid i didn't do a very good job. i love how you talked about it and put it in really great perspective. and just to make you feel better…your house looks great, love the colors, and your hair is fabulous! see…now you don't have to 'focus' on those things anymore!!

  8. Hello! I'm a new reader, who found you because of your Word of the Year post from last year that linked to. I was inspired and decided to adopt your method this year. I then had to laugh right out loud today when I found that we had chosen the same word! *wink*

    I love your take on it. Once again, inspiring. Thanks for passing it along.

  9. new reader here as well and that's my word of the year for 2010 as well.

    I've been feeling distracted and scattered at work, at home, with hubs, with baby etc. and this year I'm going to finish tasks and be in the moment. I'm going to focus 🙂

  10. I just wanted to share my word. It came from Elder Bednar's most recent Conference talk. It is "Diligent." I need to be more diligent about doing what I already know I should be doing. I love your blog and love your book. Both are so inspiring and have helped me to "see the light in the trenches."

  11. Hey there…I just love your idea, my word is contentment this year, I even thought that I would like a simple reminder of it all year…so I looked up necklaces where they can print the word or do a japanese symbol of it on the wesite etsy! This way I can keep it near to my heart all year 🙂 Good luck to all & thanks Shawni for all your fabulous ideas! Enjoy your year!!

  12. I'm a new reader as well since reading your new book. I got it for Christmas and have LOVED it and shared it with friends.
    I loved your idea about a "theme" for the year so much that I gave a lesson for FHE evening last week and had everyone pick a "theme" for themselves. We wrote them on post-a-notes and stuck them on the fridge. This past week has been SO fun noticing my kids trying to applying their "themes" into their lives. The 8 year old child that chose "helpful" has never been so helpful, the 9 year old is obviously trying to be more "responsible", our 3 year old is often told to be "nice" and I have been able to remind the 5 year old that he can "choose" to be happy when I see him wanting to lose it. I chose "calm" for myself as we are expecting #5 this week and it is my wish to be "calm", no matter who is crying, what projects need to be finished or what mess needs to be cleaned up.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas so that our family might try to be a little bit better this year!

  13. Shawni,
    I hope you don't mind but I'm going to have to use this object lesson with the photos in a YW lesson. It's too good not to! Hope things are well with you and your family.

  14. Shawni, I was so amazed to see this post about FOCUS and the 2 pictures of the harmonica and the lamp. I have used that very analogy so many times in teaching about Positive Parenting (what you FOCUS on is what you SEE, so focus on the positive), but I have never taken the time to actually TAKE 2 photos and USE them in my lesson. Haha! You've done it! Thanks for a great post! Hope life is going well for you!

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