Archives for December 2012

Reviewing 2012

How was your year? I love the sense of interval, of a time between, that happens during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For me, it’s always been a time of finishing off and preparing for the New Year.

A simple review

I learned to do this as an end of meeting activity when facilitating community groups, and find it works well for end of year prep for new year plans. We used to use flip charts and head one, “What Worked”, another “What Didn’t Work”, and a third, “What to Change”.

Head a sheet “what worked”, head another “what didn’t” and a third , “changes”. For the first two headings, let the ideas bubble up and jot them all down. Evaluate what you’ve got and then flesh out the bits that are most meaningful.

Take a look at the past year

If you had goals for this year, take a look at them as you reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If you didn’t have formal goals or a plan, that’s okay. Even if you didn’t have something written down you may notice areas where you feel good about what happened and areas where you aren’t as pleased.

As you work through this review see if you can approach it as a fact finding mission. Finding out what worked, and what helped it work, and finding out what didn’t and what stood in the way are both valuable. Let go of any blame toward yourself or others.

Other questions to explore:

  • When something worked, how did you feel?
  • When something didn’t work how did you feel?
  • Are there areas of your life that generate good feelings that didn’t show up on your “what worked” list? Add them to your list.
  • Are there areas of unhappiness that didn’t show up on your “didn’t work” list? Add them to your list.

Take a break

Go for a walk, talk with a friend, have a cup of tea. Shake it out.

If a friend or partner is near by, either with you, or by phone, consider giving them a call and asking if they have a moment to listen to your lists. In fact, it’s lovely to do this process with a friend, each of you working on your pieces and then coming together to talk about each piece before going on to the next.

 When you come back

Review your lists and write down things you want to change.

When you look at your “what worked” list, see if there are ways you can bring more of the elements that helped create successful outcomes to other areas of your life. Potential changes could come from adapting successful strategies in one area to other areas.

When you look at your “didn’t work” list, see if you can identify the things that were obstacles to success, or that took energy or spirit away. Once you have identified obstacles, or elements that create resistance, look at what you could change or what you could do to eliminate or minimize the obstacle or the resistance.

These change points will be valuable information for next year’s planning/goal setting.

Goals focus on results; planning focuses on the steps you need to take to achieve the results. In the next post I’ll focus on goals. The following post will look at planning.

Remember to celebrate items on your “what worked” list as you ring in the New Year!

Join the discussion: What helped you last year?

Celebrating Connection

My first Christmas in Canada, in 1971, happened during a two-week residential Gestalt Workshop at Cowichan Farm in Duncan on Vancouver Island. It was different than any Christmas I’d ever experienced.

In some ways my memories are a bit hazy; I am not sure I can still name every person who was there, but I have a very strong sense of how it felt to be sitting around the farmhouse table, candles flickering, and listening intently as each person in the small group took his or her turn to give their gifts to the rest of us. By this time we’d been on retreat together for a week, so we knew more about each other than we may have known about members of our family.

Each one of us had the opportunity to give each other person one gift. It wasn’t a physical gift. We gave a gift that embodied our recognition of the talents and resources, the habits of being; the longings as they had been revealed in our work together. We prefaced each statement with, “If I could, I would give you ….”

The joy that came from seeing someone smile, their face alight with pleasure, on receiving a fantasy gift that recognized them, was heart-opening. My sense of anticipation each time it was my turn to receive a gift was high, as high as the anticipation I felt as a six-year old, waiting until it was time to get up and see if Santa had brought me the doll I asked for.

The gifts we gave each other felt very real; some were funny, some deep. Being seen, having my longing met, filled me up.

I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts. That year I realized that it was the sense of seeing something special about someone and finding something that could celebrate that special thing, that I found so engaging about giving gifts. It is an opportunity to answer something in them.

Being seen, being heard, knowing that our lives are witnessed and respected, knowing by this that we are connected, is a precious gift. Reflect on the qualities that connect you to family and friends, and then discover the perfect fantasy gift, the one that will let them know that you see and value their special quality, and value their presence in your life–or just tell them what you love and appreciate about their presence in your life.

Join the conversation: What engages you about gift giving? What is the most memorable gift you’ve ever given? Received?

Three Steps Toward Success in 2013

As we count the days to year-end there are three things you can do to prepare yourself for success in 2013 and they might even help you clear the way for more holiday enjoyment.

1. Finish everything you can on your unfinished list

I tend to put more on my “do list” than is realistic, so I often end up with a number of things that aren’t complete, or that haven’t been started when I get to the end of the year.

The first step is making a list of all the things that you started but didn’t finish, or things you meant to get to, but didn’t even start.

Sometimes what’s unfinished or not started is undone for a very good reason:

  • Once you started you realized you didn’t really want to do it
  • Given all that you have done and need to do you just haven’t got the resources you need
  • You have changed and your priorities and desires have changed too, leading to other tasks or goals becoming priorities
  • You realized this wasn’t a goal or project that would contribute to your happiness or to deepening your engagement, experience, or learning
  • You no longer want to do it

Cross the “good reason” items off your list and then take a look at what’s left. These should all be items that you still want to finish or start.

If there are any you haven’t started yet transfer them to your draft 2013 list for consideration later, when you do your 2013 list.

Are there any items on the unfinished list that you could finish by investing less than two hours of your time? If so, consider making an appointment with yourself to make sure you do. Every item that you finish will release more energy for your use as you go forward and add to your sense of accomplishment and confidence.

 2. Clear out and clean up to make way for the new.

Aargh! How does all this paper and all this stuff accumulate when you aren’t looking? Now’s a good time to take just thirty minutes a day to clear out and clean up.

Areas that will repay your work:

  • Work space: desk drawers, files, business cards.
  • Closets: hall, clothes, bathroom
  • Kitchen: spices, condiments, fridge & freezer, food cupboards (clear all items that are past their due/use date)

If you can clear and clean and make way for the new your whole space will feel energized and loved.

3. Let go of what you no longer need.

It’s been a full year. Lots of learning; lots of change and many things that may have been needed or relevant at the beginning of the year are now simply taking up space. Some of these items may be physical, but the items that will really bring you more spaciousness are the habitual responses, habits of mind and ideas that are no longer serving you. A short checklist to review for items to let go of:

  • Old ideas of you and what you can do
  • Habitual responses to change or the new
  • Your standard response to a call for a contribution from you
  • Your standard response to a compliment
  • Your list of what you can’t do
  • Your answer to the question “what I need to let go of to achieve my dreams”

 Some ways to make the letting go feel real:

  • Write the item on a piece of paper and put it through the shredder
  • Draw the item and then burn the drawing
  • Hold a fizzy tablet (Alka Seltzer, bath bomb, etc.) and while meditating on the items and imagining them going into the tablet. When you are ready, drop the tablet into water and watch it till it fully dissolves; then pour the water down the drain.
  • Take a shower and imagine you are washing it away.
  • Walk in the ocean and give it to the waves

Finishing, cleaning and clearing, and letting go: preparation for success and for setting goals for 2013.

Join the conversation? What do you do to make space for new life?

12 Tips for Creating in 2013

For me, 2012 was a year of finding out how to stay focused and what to focus on as a self-employed writer/consultant. Here are my top tips from this year’s journey.

1. Everything counts; it helps not to freak out.

It’s true. You decide what’s important. You lay out the plan. You find the money and make the money. It can be paralyzing and make you flirt with the idea of applying for any sort of job. When anxiety and overwhelm threaten to take you off track it helps to have a list of small projects that you can do while you get your breathing back to normal. Build your contact list. Work on ideas from your story/article notebook. Find a mentor; decide what you have to offer and what you hope for from the relationship. Develop a list of places/people you can be of service to at no charge. Once you are back to a less paranoid version of yourself focus on the one thing you can do right away to help your business/help your writing.

2. Small steps realize the vision.

What’s the one thing you want to get done next year? What do you need to do each quarter to make this dream come true? What do you need to do now to meet your first quarter milestone? Planning small steps and blocking them into your diary each week can take you where you want to go. Write for 15 minutes every day? For an hour? For three?

3. Learn to say yes to what feeds your soul.

What’s the 20% of what you do that makes it all worth it? Build that into every day and every week. Whether it is a specific activity or interacting with clients or other writers, make sure it happens. It will keep you going through those less than perfect moments.

4. What you do every day counts most; pick the right stuff.

It took an astonishingly long time for me to realize that my life was what I did every day. Even though I might treasure memories of a special trip or high point, it’s really what happens every day that counts. When I finally got it, I felt empowered. By changing what I did each day I could change my life. And I did. So don’t wait. Today is the day. Do what you love now.

5. Value your contribution.

Showing up is most of the gig. Showing up with all of you makes the difference between sleep walking your way through the day and living it. Start by valuing the fact that you are here and ready to work and that you bring your whole incredible self to the party.

6. Learn to say no.

At the beginning of the journey there may be the sense that nobody is going to want you to do anything for them and you may want to fall on the first offer with cries of gratitude even if it has nothing to do with your vision, or maybe you don’t have your vision yet, so everything looks good as long as someone will pay you for it. As you go on you realize there is really no reason to do what someone else could do better and with more joy. Say no.

7. Work with those you want to support; it’s a shared fate

When you take on a client, customer or project it’s a shared fate. If all goes well and your client is happy, it’s a win for both of you. If your client isn’t happy, or you’re not happy, it is a loss for both of you. It’s got to work for both of you.

8. Have fun!

Sometimes it’s bound to be intense. Learn to have fun while you work. Know who makes you smile and what makes you feel like dancing. Never waste a chance to celebrate what’s going on. Find one thing a day to celebrate, even if some days it means you celebrate it being over.

9. Let your soul shine through.

What about what you do satisfies your deep longing? What’s meaningful? Where does your satisfaction come from? Share this. It turns colleagues into friends and clients into fans. It’s what makes life  and your work juicy.

10. Embrace your strengths.

Step one, get to know your strengths. There are lots of ways to go about this, but an easy one that just takes noticing comes from Danielle LaPorte. Notice what people thank you for. In fact, write down what people thank you for (we have a way of forgetting really fast).

11. Find sources of nourishment.

When you are the whole show you need a lot of creative fuel to keep you inspired and putting it out there. Identify the people, activities, blogs, books, films, music, workshops, associations and classes that feed you and keep reminding you of your vision and your strengths.

12. Eat, Workout, Sleep

Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night works wonders. Forty minutes or more of daily exercise ditto. Eating for both health and pleasure provides balance. They are basics, and neglecting them can cause big problems, if not now, soon.

Join the discussion: What do you do to stay on track and keep creating?