“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” - Anais Nin
I concur with Nin, haven’t made a list of New Year’s resolutions for at least ten years but I do choose one thing I want to accomplish in the new year. Just one. I like to end a year with a feeling of satisfaction. In 2014 my one thing is to finish writing the third and final “fierce” book, Fierce Love. The trouble is, that was my one thing in 2013 and I didn’t get it done. It was impressive how many distractions I managed to create so that I wouldn’t have to sit down and write this book that I know is important.
Hence, this year-end message for you and me is about focus, the clarity and power of it and three strategies that will help us stay focused. I want us all satisfied as we progress throughout 2014 and celebratory by the end of it.
Choose your one thing. Let’s say that in the new year you want to win a promotion, find love, be a better person, complete a significant project, get healthy. Of course, if you don’t know what you want, this is a non-starter, so you’ll need to have a fierce conversation with yourself and may have to trick yourself with the question – If I did know the one thing I most want to accomplish in 2014, what would it be? Not what you think you should want, what you really want.
Make your goal the password for something you use regularly. My daughter, Halley, taught me this. We have a tool called Salesforce in our offices in Seattle and each time anyone wants to access it, he or she must enter a password, which changes every six months. For the first six months of 2013, Halley’s password was something like: Find the perfect new family home. She included a number in the password to increase the strength of it and entered that password many times a day, which kept that goal in front of her, unavoidable. She found the perfect home and moved her family into it in October. For the second six months, her password was something like: Sell and close the old house by December 31. There was work to be done on the old house and it didn’t go on the market until December 18. Our jaws dropped when it sold the next day. The sale was to close on January 7, then the day before Christmas the buyers asked if she’d mind closing on December 31. For me, entering a password again and again throughout my day is easier than the discipline of meditation, so I think this will be powerful for me. And for you. When we have to write what we want over and over again, magic can happen.
Say yes to “no”. It is human nature to want to say yes whenever possible. Will you head up this committee? Okay. Will you help a friend or relative move? Of course. Will you go on a business trip? If you need me to. Will you write another article? Sure, when is it due?
We want to help, contribute, support. But the poet, David Whyte suggests that when we say yes and yes and yes to almost everything that comes along, then when a powerful yes, the right yes, the best and biggest “yes” comes along, we won't have room for it. You get the drift.
Once you have your sight on a goal, to make sure there is plenty of room for it, you'll have to say no to anything that would interfere.
Here are some of the things I have recently begun saying no to:
- Keynote talks that would require me to fly to the east coast in the dead of winter, risking delays and cancellations, due to snow and ice.
- Keynote talks that would require me to leave my tree house on Orcas Island during the summer and fall.
- Spending time with people who I find boring, falsely effusive, who hail from a different ethical system, or whose story is too often “woe-is-me” or just “me!”
- Invitations to dinner.
This may make me seem like a diva or a snob and I’m not, really I’m not. It’s just that this past year being there (on a plane, in a meeting, at a dinner table, etc.) was a way of not being here (writing), which is truly where I needed to be. I said yes to so many things this past year, including many time eaters and distractions that I manufactured all by myself, that I didn’t finish writing Fierce Love and I am clear that’s what I’m meant to do! Finish it, put it in your hands.
So to summarize:
1. Choose the one thing you want most for yourself in 2014.
2. Create a password for it.
3. Embrace “no”. No apologies.
Let’s pull off our one things this year. Okay? I’ve told you mine. What’s yours?