Tag Archives for " The Focus Project "

Better: December 2013 Theme


“Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better.”
- Jim Rohn


It's the final month of 2013.

My mind is still having difficulty processing that another year is almost over. Yet, I know it's here.

With all the holiday preparations underway, several end-of-year events happening, and many other similar activities - the closing of another year is definitely undeniable.

And, so, here I am, starting off a series of end-of-year blog posts, as part of my blogging tradition.

On Getting Better

For this month, the word that comes at the forefront of my mind is "Better". And, I believe that this is due to a few reasons.

First of all, my family has had a bout of illness recently. And, all I can think about is wishing everyone will feel better soon. And yes, admittedly, I've been quite unwell this year - flu, back aches, muscle pains, etc. So, I feel as though I'm always trying to focus on the idea of trying to get better.

Apart from health, I like the idea of learning to improve on things right now, overall. Improve my fitness. Improve my relationships. Improve my work. Improve my skills.

No need for new things. No need for easier. Just better.

So, this is what I'll be thinking about as I start contemplating for the new year.

Yes, this is the time of the year where I don't just look back on the days, weeks, and months that has gone past. It's that season where I start thinking about what's ahead.

That's why I would normally be spending the next few days and weeks with a lot of brainstorming, planning, and soul searching.

Then, by the end of the month, or very early in the new year, I should be ready with a brand new Word of the Year (WOTY). Perhaps, with some ideas on new projects that I would be undertaking for the new year.

The Monthly Themes and 2013 Projects

Over the last few months, I've been posting monthly themes as part of The Focus Project.

This project, of course, was inspired by my Word of the Year for 2013: Focus.

Someone asked me mid-way through the year how I was doing with my WOTY. They said that while they often start the year with the best intentions, they often lose steam mid-way through.

I had to admit that it's not easy to stay on track with these things. That's why I like associating projects and mini-projects with my WOTY.

For 2013, I've lost out on my attempts at 365 days again - both the daily photos and the daily lettering. I think I may just have to accept that I will forever be defeated by 365. I probably just don't have it in me to do anything on a daily basis for a full year. At least, not right now, when I have too many things going on in my life.

Well, of course, I learned this year that I can focus enough to do something daily. Like the A Week In The Life project, where I captured snippets of my life on a daily basis for a week. Or even writing about the same topic on a daily basis for a full month, like the 31 Days of New project. But, my daily habits need some kind of a shorter end-point at the moment. Not a year. One day, this might change. But, for now, I need to tell myself that it's okay NOT to do a 365. Whether or not I'd listen for 2014, who knows.

All I know is that if I need to do a year-long project, it will have to be on a non-daily basis. Like these monthly themes thing on the blog, for example. Yes, I managed to complete this. Yay! And, to round things up, I thought I'd share my past monthly themes for 2013 here:

November: IMAGINE

October: NEW

September: OPEN

August: RHYTHM


June: HOPE



March: GIFT

February: SYMBOLS


There's something so satisfying seeing all these themes lined-up. Even in singular words, I can see the stories and the meanings behind each of them. Like one-word summaries of each month.

I'm not sure I'll do this again next year. I will have to think about it. But, I am glad that I did it this year.

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Welcome A New Month, A New Theme [Imagine]: #31Newness No. 28


Can you believe it's already the 1st of November?

In our household, my husband introduced the "pinch-punch first of the month" thing that can cause either laughter or tears (the kids hate 'losing out'). But, for the most part, it's a nice way to start a new month.

Here at ShaiCoggins.com, I've been choosing a new theme every month of 2013 for The Focus Project. This month, I'm choosing "Imagine". Partly inspired by this quote I saw in my "paper diary" (that I hardly use!):

"It's time to start living the life you've imagined." - Henry James

Also partly inspired by the state of mind I've had lately. A brain full of fantasy and imagination. Of daydreaming.

And, partly inspired by the idea of taking on my writing projects again this month.

Yes, it's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again. I know I haven't really joined in properly since 2009. And, a few weeks ago, I was seriously considering jumping in again to get my novel re-started. After all, I did finish the first version of the story during a NaNoWriMo challenge four years ago. So, I thought, maybe I can try again this year.

But, I haven't even finished this 31 Days of 31 Newness Project. I fell behind due to health and technical issues. And, of course, catching up on my own work and other life matters.

If all went well, I was planning on doing NaNoWriMo. But, at the moment, I'm wondering if it's just a bit too much for me right now. Maybe it's time to give these community projects a break and just do my own thing. Finish my novel in my own time. Update this blog in my own way.

And yeah, start paving the way for living the life I've imagined.

Anyway, I have three more blog posts due for this 31 Days project. I'll decide after that whether I'm up for another community-driven challenge.

What about you? What's in store for you this November? How do you welcome a new month?



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31 Days of New: October 2013

31 Days of New in October 2013: #31Newness

Whenever I encounter a challenge - in real life or online - I either just go for it, or I wait around for so long, wondering what to do. Yes, that overthinking that I am prone to.

Last month, when I re-encountered Ali's Week In The Life project, I just went for it. And, absolutely LOVED it. I definitely think that it's one of the best things that I've done for this blog in a long time. And, judging by friends' and contacts' feedback, it was the right thing to do.

Today, I came across  The Nester's very popular 31 Days project. I noticed it via the "trending" topics list on Twitter. Not sure how long it has been going on, but apparently, there were over a thousand participants last year. I was amazed.

The fact that something's very popular doesn't always attract me, to be honest. But, the more I read about this project, the more tempted I became to join in.

And, when I tested the waters by posting on my  Twitter and Facebook profiles, I became even more interested.

First of all, I ended up e-meeting two new interesting #31Days participants already: Becky and NJ - both of whom are doing the challenge with very brave topics as marriage (for Becky) and - well, ahem - "Big Girl Panties" (for NJ).

And yes, I was loving the support and ideas I was getting from folks through this Facebook post. Some of those ideas, I'm hoping to incorporate in this series.

But, I must admit: This is one of those challenges that I had to re-think a few times today before I finally decided to do it. In fact, not only did I try to "test the waters" by posting on my social media channels, I even did some brainstorming about topics I'll be blogging about for this project. I thought, if I couldn't come up with at least 31 ideas in one go, then I'm not doing it.

I mean, as you know, ShaiCoggins.com is really a non-niche blog for the most part. So, writing every day about one common theme seemed a bit daunting. In fact, that's one of the reasons I wasn't sure it was a good idea to do this. But then, I remembered my Word of The Year (Focus). And, I knew I've been wanting to test out a few ideas here on this blog.

So, with some encouragement and 31 possible topics to blog about using one theme, I decided to go for it. And, it's going to be all about celebrating different interests. And curiosity. And community.

So, what's #31Newness all about?

As I mentioned, my "31 Days of New" project is going to be all about celebrating the newness of things. New ideas. New experiences. New people. New places. New challenges.

This theme gives me enough room to explore using my curious nature, but still working on one theme.

And, hopefully, the posts I share will also inspire some of you to try the ideas and concepts behind each new experiment. In fact, I'm hoping that this project will be more interactive than some of my other blog projects.

I'll be sharing some questions and challenges on my social media accounts, with the hope that I can gain your insights on what would be good "New Thing".

If you ever want to join in (or just follow my very first 31 Days project), I'll be tagging related posts with #31Newness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Please connect with me there too, if you haven't done so yet. I'm a bit nervous about this project, as I don't know if I will get to #31Newness No.31 unscathed. But, I'm hoping that at the very least, I'll end up with a few new things to remember and to blog about. I hope you'll join me!

31 Bloggy Goodness on #31Newness

#31Newness No.1: Discover Somewhere New

#31Newness No.1: Discover Somewhere New

Try A New Flu Remedy: #31Newness No.2

#31Newness No.2: Try A New Flu Remedy

#31Newness No.3: Do Something New at Work

#31Newness No.3: Do Something New at Work

#31Newness No.4: Make A New Game

#31Newness No.4: Make A New Game

Shiny New Things

31Newness No.6 : Enjoy Shiny New Things

#31Newness No. 7: Wear A New Dress

#31Newness No. 7: Wear A New Dress


#31Newness No. 8: Celebrate A New Union

#31Newness No. 9: Watch 100 New Movies

#31Newness No. 9: Watch 100 New Movies

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Open: September 2013

Openness Quote

"There's just some magic in truth and honesty and openness." - Frank Ocean

I must confess: I feel like it's a bit of a cheat whenever I post these monthly themes towards the end of the month rather than in the beginning. I think it's because I have the benefit of hindsight, looking back at how this word/theme affected me during the month. The initial idea, of course, has always been to post a "focus word" to help me to move forward.

Ah well. I guess, in the great scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. Looking back can also provide some great learning.

And to me, this month has been a lot about being more open.

I think that Week In The Life Project helped me to see that better.

When I came across that project again this year, I wasn't really planning on joining. But, I jumped in anyway. Even though a part of me was a bit worried about a few things. Including that part of being more open about my day, my life.

In fact, I think that's one of the reasons I didn't ever consider joining the project. I didn't think I'd have the chutzpah to be that open. I wasn't sure I wanted to show everyone parts of me that I normally wouldn't share (er, me before a shower... in my pink, fluffy dressing robe...?!).

Yet, something amazing happened.

People responded. Many of YOU responded.

In comments. On Twitter. On Facebook. And Instagram. And Flickr. By private message. On email.

I was pleasantly surprised. And very very grateful. And, yes, as I said, it made me re-think a few things.

Being more open also led me to all sorts of other things.

Like doing something different such as judging a papercrafting challenge, when I was asked by another friend (thanks again, Shery).

Or, when I opened up about my work situation on Facebook, I've received incredible amount of support AND interest from all sorts of different contacts, offering to be a part of a possible growth in my business. People, offering to help.

And yes, I believe that being open also led me to the opportunities that are coming my way professionally. Like that time I was talking to a nonprofit organisation about a possible job. When we realised that me working with them as an employee might not be the best fit, I confessed why I was interested in working with them in the first place. And, I guess, that resonated well with the Founder of the organisation, as I was later contacted by the person she ended up hiring. They wanted to explore the possibility of me working with them through my company as a contractor.

There's a similar story with another amazing technology company that I looked at working for (but ended up having to turn down the incredible offer due to a few reasons). They ended up contacting me later, asking for a possibility of working with them on projects.

So yes. It seems to be a theme for me this month. Being open. Allowing people to see us - the real us - a little bit more.

It's scary because there will always be that fear that maybe, when we show who we really are, people won't like us. But then, what was the quote? The one that says something like: "It's better to be disliked for who we are, then to be liked for who we're not."

I'm glad that people who choose to connect with me on social and on this blog want to connect with the real me. Not just the professional me. I'm grateful for clients and potential clients who has learned all about me and my work - and choose to work with me.

I guess, it's because, at the end of the day, we like it best when we know we can be who we are - and still be accepted.

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Rhythm: August 2013 Theme

Happiness and rhythm quote

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity
but of balance, rhythm, and harmony.”
– Thomas Merton

Amidst all the big changes, new lifestyles, and great dreams, I am now trying to find a new rhythm. One that fits life as it is, right now.

It’s always scary when we have to alter the way we do things and the way we live our day-to-day lives. That’s why change is terrifying.

But, changes can be good because it can give us the opportunity to see if doing things in a new way can bring about freshness in our lives.

That’s what I am finding right now.

And, the new rhythm that this freshness is bringing has been showing me all sorts of different things.

Like how going to bed, feeling like I’ve done enough (or in some days, more than enough), can be quite refreshing.

How many times have we all turned off our computers and walked away from our work feeling like that that was a good, productive day?

If you’re like me, you would be almost always wishing there was more time in the day. To do more.

But, that kind of thinking becomes way too stressful. It doesn’t give us the liberty to do other things that we love. It doesn’t help us to enjoy our “down time” enough.

That’s why in my new rhythm, I am trying to develop a system wherein I feel like I can shut down and allow myself to enjoy a TV show, a movie, a book, or long cuddle times with my kids – after a full, productive day. Not as though I’m always behind. Always trying to catch-up.

Shifting My Rhythm

In order to achieve such a feat, I am trying to shift certain areas of my mindset. Some of the things that I am working on developing right now:

    • Scheduling things that matter. And, when I say “things that matter”, it doesn’t just include work. It includes things that makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something worthwhile during the day or during the week. For example, I’ve started adding my 750 Words/Daily Writing habit as a recurring task on my To Do List. I’m also slowly adding in things like blogging and time for writing my novel/script. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be brave enough to start adding things like regular “artist’s dates” and “creating time” too. 
    • Developing new flexible routines. That doesn’t very convincing, I know. But, being a non-fan of routines (I get bored easily), I try to avoid them. However, I’ve learned over the years that no matter how much I don’t like them, I can’t function well without them either. The creative and the productive brain thrive on limitations and routines provide those limitations. So, I work on routines. But, I try to make them flexible enough so that I don’t get too bored too easily. And, I don’t end up beating myself up if I move my scheduled break time from 10am to 10.45am. Or something like that.
    • Practicing mindfulness in different aspects of my life. In this case, mindfulness is more than just meditating or finding peace. It’s keeping things in check on a regular basis. One aspect of my life that I try to practice more mindfulness is the use of social media. Making sure I avoid checking in first thing in the morning and last thing at night. And sometimes, even just shutting it down completely during the day. Not an easy thing to do when your work revolves around social media and the web. But, I’m glad that I do take time away from it, especially  because I already do a lot of it.
    • Being “all there”. I’m a multi-tasker. I tend to do it because I feel more productive that way. But, lately, I’m trying to avoid multi-tasking in a way that shifts my focus too easily. Maybe that’s part of the idea of my word of the year. To learn what focus really means. To understand what it means to “be all there” in whatever moment I am in. Sure, I still multi-task. Running the washing machine and the robot vacuum cleaner while I work can make me feel like I’m doing both my professional work and my housework at the same time. But, when I’m putting my kids to bed, I like to be just there - reading a book, talking, cuddling – not worrying about what else I need to do before I fall asleep.

    What’s Your Rhythm Like?

    Are you a planner? Do you schedule your days? What shifts in mindset do you recommend in order to develop a daily rhythm in life?

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