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A little over a year ago I finally got off my ass and started a blog. This blog.

In January last year, I stumbled across a post from my dear friend Margie Clayman where she set forth her focus areas for 2011. Apparently, Chris Brogan began this trend a few years ago, and it resonated with me.

One of the things I’ve learned from my nearly 20 years of corporate experience is it is VERY hard to get anything done when you are not focused. Focus, focus, focus; Then focus some more.  Even three things seems like it might be a lot of things to focus on to me, but since it’s a focus area over an entire year, I’m willing to go with it.

In 2011, my themes for the year were mentor, inspire and balance. I feel like I did a decent job of expanding my capabilities in those three areas (or at least I like to think I did, anyway). Reflecting on 2011, the year seemed to contain an abundance of all three of those things.

I’ve been thinking about my themes for 2012 and have settled on writing, speaking and unfiltered.

Writing

KeyboardI need to write more. I need to carve out the time to write.

Writing is an important means of communication and it is getting more important all the time.

When I first began law school back in 1990, I convinced myself that I was not a very good writer. That little bit of self-talk has plagued me ever since. If you know me well, you know that I still feel plagued by this feeling of inadequacy. No more.

I’m not suggesting that I’ve suddenly overcome my weaknesses. No. But I do believe that believing yourself to be a good writer is over half the battle. Because once the feelings of inadequacy are gone, I will be freed to (and in fact encouraged) to write more – and so in writing more have a tool to improve.

I was really struck by this post by Jeff Goins a few weeks back, titled “The Only Way to Become a Real Writer.” If you fancy yourself a writer (or even a blogger) I recommend you read it.

Heck, who knows…maybe by the end of 2012, I’ll even be able to call myself a writer.

Speaking

MicroponeI love public speaking. I always have.

I spent a few years in undergrad focused on the art of public speaking, while I earned my bachelor’s degree in acting. I’ve always enjoyed it, and I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it too.

I’m no expert at speaking, mind you. But, I am pretty good. I can hold an audience’s attention pretty well, and I like to think I offer a new and different way of looking at things.

2012 will be the year where I gear up my speaking capabilities and capacity. I gave more than a handful of presentations last year in 2011 and I plan to at least double that in 2012. Speaking won’t make me rich, but it will provide me with an avenue to do more, to say more and to meet and mentor more.

Unfiltered

Scream and shoutIf we’re friendly on Twitter or Facebook you might think I’m already a pretty unfiltered person. I certainly have a tendency to wise crack and share things that a few people here or there think are pretty funny.

That’s not the kind of filtering I’m talking about. In that realm, I’m already pretty unfiltered – not exactly “raw” mind you, but certainly unfiltered.

But there is another side of me that remains pretty filtered.

You see, I have this tendency to shy away from conflict. It’s ever-present in my personal life and pops up sometimes when I’m navigating my way around the social webs. I think part of my issue is I view emotional outbursts as a lack of business maturity and I’m usually afraid someone may read between the lines and interpret me when I’m in conflict mode as being sort of ‘out of control” or a bit of an ass.

I know better.

I know great discussion and true understanding often lie just below the surface of minor “conflict.” One recent example is contained in this blog post by Mack Collier. Mack asked a question about conference attendance. I shared my views. Mack came back and challenged me a bit – or at least called my answer into question. I wrote a lengthy response. Then I thought about not posting it. I hemmed. I hawed. I vacillated. Then I posted it.

And Mack highlighted my response as one of the 10 best reader comments on his blog last year.

I was shocked. And pleasantly surprised.

I shouldn’t be.

Nevertheless, I learned a valuable lesson – one I’m carrying with me throughout 2012. So if you see me a bit more assertive and open about my views, I hope you’ll understand why.

So those are my focus areas, my themes for 2012.

What about you? What are you focused on during the coming year? Please share in the comments below and if I can point you to some resources or otherwise be of value in your journey, please do not hesitate to ask. Just because mentoring was a focus area in 2011 doesn’t mean  I’ve given it up completely here in 2012. Happy New Year to you!

Featured images courtesy of EricInvntr, Daehyun Park, MDanys  licensed via creative commons.

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Sean McGinnis

Director, Digital Marketing at Sears Parts Direct
Sean McGinnis is Director, Digital Marketing at Sears Parts Direct. He is also a (digital strategist, blogger, consultant ) and public speaker. You can find Sean on