Years ago, I decided to set a one-year concept at the beginning of each year, rather than a list of New Years resolutions. I thought that having an integrated, catch-all concept would encourage me to think more creatively about the different aspects of my portfolio career and how they fit together, rather than thinking in siloes.
It’s been a while since I set an annual concept for myself. A couple of weeks ago, however, I found myself doing an exercise from Dan Blank’s platform-building book, Be the Gateway. In this exercise, you grab a bunch of index cards and write down one word on each card to capture the things that matter most to you in your life. When you’re out of ideas, you array those cards in a pyramid, with one at the top, two in the next row, and so on. The exercise is designed to give you clarity on your goals, but also to see how some of your priorities intersect.
While most of my words were obvious—family, adulthood, memoir, etc.—a cluster emerged near the top of my pyramid featuring words like “connections.” I realised that in different parts of my life, what I’m craving right now is community.
And just like that, my new year’s concept for 2024 was born. Here’s how I plan to build community in 2024:
Community through Volunteering
During the pandemic, I got involved in a virtual volunteering group that helps register American voters overseas. Early last year, I took a hiatus from that group to spend more time working on my memoir.
In case you didn’t know, there’s an election in the United States this year. A big one. I know how very much the overseas vote matters in deciding close races.
So I’ve told my volunteer group that I’m coming back. Except this time, instead of helping out online, I’m going to register voters face-to-face. I crave the energy that comes from mobilizing around a cause in person. Look out, Americans in London. The next time you venture out to your local farmer’s market, you may find me waving a form to register you to vote.
Community Through Religion
The second way in which I plan to build community in 2024 runs much deeper. I’ve struggled with “What religion should I be?” for decades now. As a Catholic married to a Jew, I’ve never quite figured out where I belong. I’m still not sure I have an answer to that question, but I’m a good deal closer.
Last summer, and for reasons that remain a bit mysterious, even to myself, I started attending a weekly religious service at a nearby place of worship. I now feel ready to bring religion back into my life. And I think I’ve found a wonderful community with which to do that. This time, however, it will be on my terms. I’ll have more to say about this shortly. (Watch this space).
Community Through Social Media
The final area in which I’ll be building community in 2024 is on social media. I’ve been on assorted social media platforms for close to 15 years now. I still remember the day I joined Facebook. I love social media, which I’ve always found to be a wonderful space in which to learn, share, and laugh with like-minded souls.
Like many people before me, however, I’ve finally given up on Twitter. I’ll miss Twitter’s “global public square” ethos, which is impossible to replicate. But enough is enough, and it’s time to move on. Over the last couple of months, I’ve begun to squat on Substack, following people there and sharing the odd post. Substack has a wonderfully welcoming and supportive feel. I think I’m going to invest a lot more energy there going forward.
So that’s me for 2024. How about you? What one word captures what you plan to do in the coming year? Please share in the comments section.
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