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My watchword this year: Focus


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Personally, I’ve stopped doing a long list of new year’s resolutions.

Like most people, I start off with good intentions, inspired by the spirit of a new beginning that comes every January first. After the excesses of the holidays, I think we’re all ready to feel a little virtuous.

But here’s the thing I’ve found: it is really hard to make more than one change at a time. Even if they’re little changes. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

So for the last couple years, what I’ve done instead is set one big goal or theme for the year. I decide to make it my priority. I can still make smaller changes throughout the year (which I try to do in small increments), but this one goal is the thing I hold myself accountable for.

My 2013 Goal

This past year, my goal was to learn how to manage other people well.

This was a very difficult and interesting goal for me, primarily because (as Kenn has pointed out to me) I have an aversion to authority. I have loads of respect for people who earn their positions, but I find blind obedience really dull and chafing. Hence, I am my own boss.

So learning to manage other people has been a learning experience. Which makes sense, because I knew absolutely nothing about managing people going into this whole small business thing. I’d had a few interns and assistants here and there, but nothing to compare to being the woman in charge.

I’ve made some mistakes and learned from them. I’ve read books and thought hard about managers I’ve had that I respected, and ones that were dismal. I learned that not all people want to be guided the way I’d want to be guided. I learned that sometimes doing the right thing is also doing the hard thing. I learned vulnerability is not anathema to being a boss. Most of all, I’ve learned how far I have to go. That’s a good start.

My 2014 Goal

This year, I have a new goal. Actually, I think it’s more of a theme or watchword: focus.

See, I’m the kind of gal that always has a billion ideas bubbling. I see a million ways to grow the business, a million projects I want to sew or knit, a million improvements I want to make to our house… you get the idea.

But no matter how excited I am by all of these things, pursuing them inevitably leaves me feeling scattered, tired, and stretched thin. And do you know what being exhausted does to your creativity? I bet you do.

So this year, I’m going to slow down and give things the time they deserve. It means working on fewer projects and doing them exceptionally well; making time to meditate every morning; finding space to really dig deep.

One place that I’d like to get more focus is this very blog. I feel like it’s time for a little bit of a refresh. I’ve been suffering from blogging burnout off and on for a long time. If you have a blog, you know how much time they take, and when it’s part of your business there is this very heavy feeling of obligation that goes along with that. Obligation, another creativity killer. So I’m dreaming up ways to make blogging joyful and interesting for myself again (and hopefully for you).

This watchword also mean focusing my wardrobe and sewing a bit more. I’m actually going to announce a little blog project along these lines that you can join me in if you want to do that too. It’s something I’m doing because I think it will be fun and rewarding to do together.

I am paring down. Less striving. More peace.

Do you set resolutions? Have you ever tried setting a single theme for the year instead and seeing where that takes you?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 48

Emma Jayne

I refused to review 2013 (in the blogging/sewing sense as much as life too) and I made no resolutions (sewing or life) either. I just want to simplify everything. The only challenge I’ve joined is the stash diet because it suits me to just sew from my stash until the back log is cleared and I can take the pressure off. So yes, clearer thinking space and focus is along a similar channel that I’d like my year to run too.
Good luck with your focused 2014.


I’ve found it helpful to take goals as they arise and when they make sense, instead of putting a whole lot of pressure on myself all at once.

There is so much external pressure to do more and more, I really admire those who can slow down and do things their own way, and do them well. I’m not quite there yet. :)


I’m not really into resolutions either. I have an ongoing list of goals and aims throughout the year, I cross things off and add new ones all the time. But if I’m being honest, I’d say I do a lot more adding.

I do find that January and September are both really great times of the year to check in and see if I’m actually taking steps towards achieving my goals, because the holidays and summer are both really distracting times of the year for me! After looking at my list last week I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal of running a half marathon by 25 if I didn’t act fast, so I registered for a race a few weeks before my birthday!

betz white

Sounds like a great goal! Joyful blogging sounds wonderful, I’m right there with you.


Let’s do this, betz! I’ve found blogging can be a great joy and creativity booster. But with the wrong mindset, it can also be just the opposite.


My biggest goal is to try and stop giving myself goals I can’t meet. :-)


Good one. I’m still not very good about determining how much I can actually do.


I would say the very same thing about me! There’s too much mess in my ideas and more ideas than time…

Kate McIvor

Focus is a wonderful watchword for 2014! I don’t make resolutions, but finding a watchword is a great idea!


I started a “wardrobe revisioning” last fall on Pinterest, to get focused on what I want to be wearing – and in 2014, I’m going on a RTW fast and sewing the three or four basic dress shapes that will form the foundation of that new wardrobe.

The underlying theme for my year is pretty much “wear what I make; make what I wear.”


This sounds very much in line with the project / series I have planned for the blog! I’ll be interested in getting your input and comments on that as it progresses.

I also did a RTW fast for a year, a couple times now. The first time I did it, it totally transformed my spending habits, which was pretty cool.


I really can relate to this post. I do think the key for me is to slow WAY down and move with more intention. I love your idea of a morning meditation. I’d like to try that. Do you use any guided meditation to help you? Any suggestions for how to get started with that?


I highly recommend the book Mindfulness in Plain English as a primer! It’s excellent.

The other thing that has worked for me is going very very slowly, maybe even doing it for 1 minute every day until you’ve developed the habit. Just like exercising your body, it is surprisingly challenging to develop consistency!


I’ve not made any resolutions, not my thing. I would say my watch word/action word is “Visioning”.
Sitting still asking certain questions like, What is the highest and best idea of my life for 2014 or best idea for my relationships or my career. Sometimes what comes up is a word or an image. I write down what ever appears. It’s something to go back as I do Visioning throughout the year.


What a great idea. I need more of this in my life.


Thanks for a lovely post. How refreshing to hear that I’m not the only blogger who sometimes resents the feeling of obligation that blogging requires as well as the time commitment.

When I go on my long, meditative runs, I’ll give some thought to the issue of authority and your theory that it can be learnt if it doesn’t come naturally. Maybe this can work for me too!

Happy New Year!


After spending most of 2013 broken and mending after a serious tendon tear and surgery to fix it, I realized how much of my life was just whizzing past. This year I am resolving to be mindful.

I’m not going to try to lose weight, I’m going to be mindful of what I eat. I am going to be mindful about movement and moving more (especially after a year of being sedentary). I intend to be mindful of my sewing/projects — what do I really need, want. I want to be mindful of my words and actions.

I hope that this change in approach will have a more positive spin than the “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to exercise four times a week.”

Jeri Sullivan

I always set too many goals and end up getting discouraged. This year I am also paring down the list to mainly work on things I love instead of always trying to do everything that comes along.


I found your post interesting to read after writing my big long list of 2014 goals! I think the whole idea of goal-setting is different for each person.. we have to do what works for us. For me, the list includes things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t given myself time to do. Putting them on a list reminds me, ‘hey, don’t forget to make time for yourself, and try the things you’ve been wanting to try!’ It’s less of a list of rules that can be broken, more of a ‘don’t forget, do fun things amid all the hard work!’
I hope you’re able to get rid of the feeling of obligation. It’s funny how blogging, something that has no defined rules or requirements, can end up feeling like a chore if we let it. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful 2014!


It totally depends on the person, you’re right. Also, like Kristen mentioned above, January IS a really great time to take stock and make plans.

I think they’re really just slightly different approaches to the same things. For example, I have a lot of fun things in mind I’d like to make time for also, I just think I’ll plan for them as they come up, depending on how they contribute to my one main goal.


This is a great idea! I did something similiar last year when I turned 30 and I find it much more meaningful than a list of things I may not ever get around to. And I definitely have a habit of having all these plans and ideas and then there are so many I never get to finish any of them…So focus is a great goal word for me, too. I’ve started out 2014 recovering from a nasty bout of norovirus that landed me in the hospital for 3 days over Christmas and it’s definitely forced me to slow down and take some extra care of myself. Thanks for the inspiration! And one of these days I’ll actually get myself to Needlwork Night!


Ack, I hope you’re feeling better. And yes, I’ve got to start planning for another Needlework Night soon, there’s mending to be done!


Yes! I do the same thing – I set an overall goal/theme for the year. I like it better because my thoughts, perspectives, and interests change over the course of a year. That’s okay, it’s called evolution and transformation, but it sets me up to fail when goal making. But, if I set a broad goal, I can make mini goals that fit into it as I change.

My goal for this year is to think big. This will require me to do less, but on the flip side, it will force me to push each projects to its fullest potential. One project that I’m hoping will fit into this goal throughout the year is publishing a book.

I hope Colette and Madalynne both have a good 2014.


Yes, this! Acknowledging that you are going to change is so important to me. My impulse is to try and control everything, but sometimes you have to accept the uncertainty and chaos of life.


A friend shared this article with me today and it struch a chord with me. It’s not the same as your focus word, but seems to come from a similar feeling.


This pretty much explains my approach to everything. Goals are cool and sexy, but it’s the little habits you do every day that make a difference.


Focus is a good goal. Do less, do it better. My goal is to enjoy what I’m doing NOW not what I am looking forward to doing next. I am pretty sure that is going to be an achievable one, since I’ve been working towards that for some time.

And I hope we all have a wonderful 2014. And continue our conversations in these comments pages. I have really enjoyed the debates here, and promise to ‘think’ before ‘send’ more often.


Living in the present is so hard for me. That’s a big part of focus for me, because when you’re ruminating on the past or scheming for the future, you’re not engaged in the flow of what you’re doing.

I heard a really interesting show on a neuroscience podcast recently that was talking about the importance of both focused attention and daydreaming. Both are important for creative output, but when your mind is stuck in the past or the future, you’re doing neither. It was really fascinating.


I too decided on not having resolutions this year and one goal very like yours which I’ve called “balance”. This year I want balance my workload better so that I have more energy for family, sewing and blogging. I’m also going to learn to say “no” because I volunteer a little too much and so loose the joy of the activity by the burden of a deadline. I too was also thinking of getting back into meditation; I function and sleep so much better when I meditate regularly. Best of luck for your 2014 Focus. Denise

Miss Crayola Creepy

I like your idea! I’m slowly reading The Power of Now and I think it’s something you would find interesting. I’m not that far into it, but it’s about staying in the present, something I struggle with everyday.


I don’t set resolutions, but I too am hoping to slow down some this year. In terms of sewing only, last year was all about really getting my sewing mojo going. I sewed a lot, I liked what I sewed, I pushed myself in certain places, and I felt really good about it. This year however, I’m taking a larger look at my wardrobe and deciding what holes I’d really like to fill. For example, I don’t feel I have any dresses that I really am pleased with the fit of. Even if I only perfect the fit on one basic dress this year, if it’s one I can sew several times and make different versions, I’ll be thrilled. I don’t need a closet that’s busting out at the seams in all directions, I just need one that makes me really happy. So I’m focusing, slowing down, and working on finding and making that happiness!


Tasha, you might like the project I’m doing on the blog soon, in that case. Well, it might not help you with the fit, but it’s going to be all about making stuff you’re happy with… quality and thoughtfulness over quantity.

I’ve found that’s more my speed, because I really don’t want to own a ton of clothes, even ones I’ve made.

Laura Lee

Wonderful thoughts. I found that in the last few months I was sewing a lot of things I “thought” I should be sewing, for a variety of reasons. But, I had a limited and dismal daily wardrobe. So my focus, to use your word, is to sew pieces that I need right now. Comfortable, wearable things that make me happy and that fit. A simple concept as I step back and re-read this but really! Why would I not benefit from my skills and actually create clothes that I can wear day to day while at home. I started with a tunic last night, out of a soft stretch cotton and already I feel more connected about what I am doing. Already I see that I am making more thoughtful choices on what to cook though out the week, and what commitments to make; asking myself “what do I really need and want” and the output seems more natural and calm. I hope this makes sense! Happy New Year

Lisa Higgins

I know how tedious blogging can be, but I really missed your posts over the holiday break, just so you know there are people out here appreciating your hard work!
As someone who also runs a business and manages a lot of people, it’s a great place to be to realize what kind of manager you are and what your weaknesses and strengths are. Then, when your business allows it, you can hire someone to make up for what you lack, and you’ll know just the type of person you need. You can’t always expect yourself to wear every hat and be great at them all.
All the best in 2014, I’ll be buying and sewing your patterns, and I may even make it to one of your sewing nights and bring treats!


Awww, thanks Lisa! We’d love to have you and your treats over here!


Oh, we have virtually the same attitude with resolutions! For the last few years, I’ve had more of an overarching sentiment (or watchword as you so eloquently put it) that I use as a guide for what I do in the year. 2013 was “be less explosive” due to a frazzled year before and feeling a bit burnt out as a result. This year, I have a fairly similar idea to you. Although mine is: “let it bloom” which sounds terribly twee, but after a year of almost being too scared to follow ideas through (maybe because of not wanting to burn out), this year I want to actually progress on things and generally feel more forward moving. Anyway, I suppose each to their own with resolutions and goal-setting. Best of luck to you, Sarai!

Toni Heckman

For years I was in a business where goal setting was not only mandatory, so was the daily measurement, reporting & assessment! While I was a consummate list maker, I really needed to drop out from that rat race! After six years & looking at things I wanted to accomplish compared to my actions I realized it was time for a one word or phrase type of NY resolution. Last year I borrowed the popular “Just Do It!” Nike tagline. In just a few short days, through dozens of uses about everything from something as simple as getting out of bed some
mornings to major decisions like buying a vehicle or planning a new class (to teach) & making the sample, it did become an effective mantra for me! I found that it worked & helped me cut through those “uncertainties & chaos” that are life & really sideline my procrastination! It worked so well that for this year, I looked for another short one liner that could actually help me live more productively. It’s “no More Excuses!” because even though I overcame a lot of procrastination tendencies, I still have too many excuses! This is a great topic & I’ve loved reading the replies!


My former career was all about data data data, so I can relate.


Great post!. I gave up resolutions years ago.. was never very good at keeping them. I get distracted very quickly or as my son says “Squirrel”, something grabs my attention and I am gone.

Focus would be a good one for me this year as well. I really want to focus on my sewing and sew some really nice clothes this year; put done Purpose as well.

I have a different version of Nike’s tagline I like – “Just do it, even if you suck at it”.

Love your work.


More focus is great really advice, words to live by. Thank you for the reminder, I know I need it! You do such an amazing job with your business and your blog, I am sure all of that overextending has contributed to your success! Exited to see what your new project is…


Beautiful piece. I love the idea of having one watch word and not a long list of resolutions. I also love the idea of making blogging more joyful again. I read a good article about blogging vs website. The crux of it was that blogging burns most pro bloggers out because if there is no post, there are no readers…so the pressure mounts to get a post out every few days, which can be very tiring – and yes, kill creativity. Also, I found that all your hard work (and it IS hard work) is lost after the post is made – into the black hole of the blog never to be seen again. Readers only come to see the new post and then leave. That, to me, seems unsustainable.
So, perhaps a new organisational platform where you have featured posts or something and headings so people can find information more easily would be a solution?
All the best in the new year. I always enjoy reading your commentary.


I read a quote from Heather Armstrong from Dooce about blogging, where she said something along the lines of (I’m paraphrasing) “If I don’t post, my family doesn’t eat.” I just thought, yikes.

I guess all professional writers are in that situation, but there’s something about the constant pace of a blog that can really wear you down. I think interest and the ability to write creatively naturally waxes and wanes. Novelists don’t publish every day. They have periods of writing good stuff, periods of editing, periods of writing rubbish, more editing.

Nyssa Jayne

I was listening to a psychologist on my local community radio a couple of days after New Years who said that those who have more than one resolution are more likely to fail, whereas those who had a single, clear goal were more likely to succeed. I like the focus-word idea though, because it isn’t a resolution, and if it’s your word for the year, you can set one goal at a time, and make it last all year. Last year I realised that resolutions should not be restricted to January, we should always strive to be the best we can.


I’m kind of thinking of doing less crafting but to be more focused with what I do – I’m more and more drawn to the idea of having only one thing in progress at a time (or at least only one of each type, so 1 sewing + 1 knitting would be OK) instead of my sewing desk being a heap of UFOs and it all feeling a bit jumbled and frantic. I don’t really do NY resolutions either but it’s impossible to escape the intention-setting mood in January, isn’t it? I like the idea of picking a word for the year, though – I’ve chosen “present” (as in being present, the present moment). Do you know of Tara Brach’s website? Loads of meditations and talks you might like – .

Laura Lee

I felt that I must comment on this one blog post; having had a lot of experience in my life. If I could turn back the clock and knew what I know now~ well you know the saying! But realistically I would not want to turn back the hands of time, my goodness I have had all of the past experiences for a reason; most of all I have learned to appreciate life. Reading your blog for many years, your business is just getting bigger and more popular. You have come a long way; Smile! you are a success and people admire & love your artistry! The one very important lesson I have learned through a few unexpected deaths this year~ take one day at a time; all that you feel or the happenings during your day are for a reason, take one moment at a time, { for instance, what are you doing right now?, what you did this morning is in the past} hug often, laugh at your self, give one act of kindness every day, enjoy the day you have now, and pat yourself on the back at the end of the day, even if you accomplished just one item on the list. Cheers!


I’m just catching up with a week of blog reading! This is a great post, Sarai – thanks for a peek into your goals. Resolutions are definitely a challenge for so many people. I’m a Desire Map aficianado so I don’t do resolutions either. My goals are on-going and more about feelings than cut and dry successes. Creativity is always at the top of my list so I’m planning to tackle my backlog of sewing projects – that will bring me a great deal of joy this year. Hand-in-hand with that, I identified FLOW as my watchword. Hard word to describe but you know what it is when you’re there!


Love how you’ve called it a watchword. I am doing the same thing this year, I just wasn’t sure of a simple way to describe it. Kinda amusing given my word for the year is ‘Simplify’.

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