Words to Live By for 2011: Pray, Focus, Be

January 2, 2011 · 5 comments

in Personal

“Eat, Pray, Love” paraphernalia abounded in 2010. Probably the only place you’ll see “Pray, Focus, Be” in 2011 is in this blog post. These are my words to live by this coming year.

Pray, Focus, Be - Words to Live by in 2011

Pray, Focus, Be - Words to Live by in 2011

Kristy Bolsinger told me about the book “Eat, Pray, Love” at the SEOmoz party during SMX Advanced in June 2010.  The book and movie are memoirs of an author who spent time traveling after a divorce. She learned to enjoy life and eating (“Eat”), found her spirituality (“Pray”), and while looking for “balance” of the two found relationship (“Love”).

Confession to Kristy – I haven’t read the book, yet. BUT, the suggestion to read it hit me. I thought:

“Why am I not reading books more?”

That was after I thought:

“When am I going to find time to read?”

Finding time for anything means “making” time! Here’s how “Pray, Focus, Be” is part of that process.

Forming New Habits

I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. I set goals. Forming new habits is often needed to discipline one’s self to attain those goals, i.e. reading books.

  • Goals are actionable, measurable, quantifiable and “checkoffable.”
  • Goals result from individual tasks, regular actions implemented to attain the associated goal.
  • Tasks can be scheduled and checked off a list.
  • Activities, done regularly, while performing tasks help form new habits.

Here’s how I plan to form new habits in order to check tasks off my list to reach my goals in 2011.

Words to Live by for 2011

Chris Brogan wrote a New Year’s blog post, “My 3 Words for 2011,” in which he wrote:

“Every year, I come up with three words that will be my guiding pillars for what I will focus on in the coming year. Instead of resolutions, which don’t usually help me very much, I work hard on using these words as a lighthouse for my actions and efforts.”

“Words as guiding pillars” – hmmm. “Eat, Pray, Love” came to mind. Would those be my words?

  • Eat: I already eat well and mostly organic whole foods. (I will be on a 2-week cleanse in January, but that’s not a whole-year focus or guiding pillar.)
  • Pray: Ah, there’s power behind that word and something I don’t do enough of. (If incorporated as part of my regular activities, prayer might just become a powerful habit.)
  • Love: My love bank overflows, and I plan to spend the rest of my days with one special man. (We’re sooooo very different, which must be part of the magic. I won’t try to change him too much in 2011.)

Finally, I chose my 3 words for 2011 – “Pray, Focus, Be.”


I keep a lot of my praying activities private, so I’m not going to elaborate much. Days started with prayer are the ones in which I feel centered, guided, purposed, optimized. Suffice to say that in 2011 my goal is to get up early enough to have time to pray before the hustle of the day begins – to be quiet, to listen, to observe the birds outdoors, to journal, to review goals and plans for each day.


Go to bed early. Wake up early. Pray as the first order of business – before the computer and its distractions get turned on.


I used to pride myself on the ability to focus. I could work on a project for hours or solve a problem with single-focused attention.

Along came social media.

As much as I love, value and need social media, it can also be “Distraction Central.”

I laughed in understanding at this tweet on New Year’s Day by Angie Schottmuller:

I'd like to finally start my own blog and limit the amount of time I spend on Twitter. =) #10Qonlinesocial #Q10
Angie Schottmuller

Raise your hand if you relate!

How much of your discretionary time is diverted to chatting on Twitter, sharing on Facebook, reading blog posts, or hanging out in search forums? Oh, they’re all good things and a necessary part of search marketing. Everything has a time and place. If they divert focus from reaching your goals, however, stop and consider the opportunity cost.

In 2011, I’ll be blocking out time to focus on goals and passions – reading, writing, studying, working, and putting more miles on the bike.


Schedule blocks of time as “single focus” – NOT constantly checking email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, Skype or even answering the phone. That also means scheduling time to play, chat and share.


My third pillar word took root when I saw this tweet by Shawn Murphy on December 26th:

Be here. Be present. Wherever you are,be there. Willie Nelson #quote
Shawn Murphy

Wise Willie Nelson…

I was traveling with my husband on our way to southern California for vacation when I saw the “Be present” quote. I decided to spend the week “being in the moment” without posting pictures or sharing what we were doing on Twitter or Facebook. I struggled at first. But then… “being” resulted in fully experiencing what we were doing and how much I got out of conversations with people we met, sunsets, bike rides.

These are my definitions of “Be” (non-Merriam Webster):

  • Fully being with people without iPhone in hand.
  • Listening to what someone has to say, what they really mean. Not being distracted by what you’re going to say, tweet or post in return.
  • Being cognizant of what you’re doing without social media distraction.
  • Thinking a thought and not analyzing how to word it in 140 as a clever tweet.
  • Hearing a song and getting up to dance without “blipping” it on Blip.fm.
  • Checking out of social media for periods of time and making memories in real life (IRL).

Pray, Focus, Be

Hello, 2011. Hello, new habits!

More prayer, focus and being in the moment – how hard can that be? It should be easy to memorize and apply “Pray, Focus, Be” as words to live by.

What are your guiding pillars for the year?

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