2009 has kicked off with a bang. We're already six days in. Well before I continue I want to wish you a very happy new year. I sincerely hope for you reading this, it is your best year yet, and if 2009 isn't the year that your harvest comes in then it's the gestation that will bring you closer to more of the experiences, people and and things that make you feel deeply good.
There is no doubting it, for most of us with many "things" in our life (and hopefully many special people), and a warm roof over our heads we are far better off, at least in material things, than many of our counterparts in other parts of the world. Looking at the broader global picture of 2008 and the beginnings of 2009 there is alot of unrest going on everywhere right now and disquiet and hardship for many are closer to home than possibly we've ever been aware of before.
Just think about how much more connected and "informed" than ten short years ago. You can turn on CNN or the BBC and see "as it happens" shots of events happening anywhere around the world. You can log into Skype, Facebook or YouTube and share ideas, connect and have virtual experiences (Second Life) with complete and utter strangers (or as W.B Yeats would say Friends you haven't met yet).
With all of this increased connectedness and choice, the question is are we more or less "unconscious" than before? Are you repeating the same old same things?
One pattern (as NLPers we're always on the look out for interesting patterns) that has a long history of being starting every January is the making and breaking of new years resolutions. Someone (author unknown) once said:
Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits
Just why is that? Or to ask a better question and one closer to home, is 2009 going to be a year of a re-run of 2008, with hopefully a few more "up moments" and "mission accomplished" moments?
If you'd like to make 2009 to be much better than 2009 here is a short list of things you can do today to improve your odds and make 2009 a year with new patterns, new behaviours and expereiences that you are sure to enjoy more of. Feel free to comment and add your own for the benefit of others.
1. Inventory - Assets from Ashes
Take an inventory of all the outstanding things you've been dragging around for the last few years. It could be projects you started but never completed, phone calls to old friends you've been promising to make, things you wished you would do "if only" had more time/money/freedom.
Write them all out on a A4 sheet(s) and then get ruthless - apply the 80/20 rule to them where, and this is important you quickly draw a line through anything that simply isn't worth carrying forward anymore. The kind of stuff that has you hesitating, half heartly holding on to something that is just "junk in your trunk".
After you cycle through this process for everything you've been dragging or holding on to you should have a small (read 5-10% the number of things you had at the beginning) list of items that you consider worth doing. Apply some of David Allan's worthwhile system, Getting Things Done. Use his Do It, Delegate It or Defer it process.
If it is a "Do It" project/activity then get it on your 30 day activities window so you get it planned and done/experienced. The trick with procrastination is to either put off. If you know you have a tendency to procrastinate then get a jump start on it and COMMIT yourself (read book your appointment, call a friend, sign up tonight for that course etc). Generally speaking the sooner you take action on these actions the better you will be for getting them done.
If it is a "Defer It" then pass it to the RIGHT person to get it done. This could be a friend, child, partner, colleague etc. Follow a no B.S policy with yourself. You want to defer activities that are either 1) can be easily done by someone else or 2) are not your responsibility to do (you can still own the fact that they get done but someone else is responsible for implementing.
If it is a "Defer It" this means it's a bigger project with other folks that you need to involve which means you Schedule IT in your diary and take some action toward getting it moving - send an email, make a phone call etc. Get the ball going and then MOVE WITH ENERGY to getting it done. You only have a limited amount of "free energy" to get things done. Most of us are active saboteurs in the Attention Deficit Economy. We have too many things calling for our attention and our attention is far too spread across too many demands. Another way of saying this is our attention is greatly fragmented today than ten years ago. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books, ads, emails, tv shows, radio stations etc all competing for your attention. It's valuable so use it wisely.
2. Ah Well Formed Outcomes and External Checks .. yea I remember that from my Prac …
We all have patterns of behavioiur that either doesn't serve us in some context but we use it automatically or we have behaviours that loop and show up in goals that are no closer to coming to fruition this year than last, or the year before that. What I am talking about here is Strategies that don't serve you.
You may recall one of the key rules of a good strategy is it has an exernal check. Where at some point the person does a comparision test against the present state to the desired state and asks "am I there yet?". If you have had a goal or series of goals that you've been carrying for a few years but not really getting anywhere with it then do a quick self-diagnosis check. Ask yourself:
- Do I know what direction I need to be heading in?
- Having I been taking consistent action toward it?
- Relative to my effort, am I significant closer or further away from achieving it?
The first question deals with Desired State. Do you have a clear and compelling REPRESENTATION for what you are trying to achieve. Do you know in specific sensory describale terms what you are trying to achieve? Rather than say I want to be "happy" or have more "better than last year" .. you need to train your brain what it needs to pay attention on. By defining it in sensory terms like I want to spend three days a month on outings with my family where we get into the country and have at least four hours of long walks in the park etc is much more achievable and brain entraining than I want to be happy etc.
As the good proverb says "Without A Vision, the People Perish". Another good one to remember is "You can't go forward in a meaningful direction if your constantly looking back".
The second question above is a question of motivation. If you haven't been taking regular action you may want to enquire "what has to be occurring in order for the lack of consistent action, to be the right thing to do?". Remember in NLP worldview people are not broken, we all work perfectly so look for what are some of the processes going on that are producing this RESULT. It may be your putting other people or priortise first in which case perhaps you can re-priortise or have some of the others involved take some of the load. Either way you need to get clear how important this goal/activity is and what can do to make more of it happen. If there is no "legitimate" reasons why you haven't been taking action it may be a belief or motivation thing. In which case, get a "grip" on your internal dialogue and blow that pattern out of existence, remember that the universe abhors a vacuum so replace it with something grand, exciting and truly motivating. Sometimes you just have to become so sick, tired and to be frank browned off that you unwilling to let an unwanted behavior continue. You begin to get that "It's me or you buddy and I pay the bills so it's time for you to vacate."
The third question is really asking - do you have the strategy to get you from where you are to where you want to be. If you have been carrying this goal/resolution for a few years and you haven't been getting far or making much progress then there could be a couple of things at play such as:
- You've not external check or not enough of them built into your strategy. If this is the case then you will find entire years pass and you are no further toward your goal. Your activity for 09 is to place external checks into your goal achieving regular and often. Schedule a review on your most important goals every 10 days until you have this down.
- You are following the wrong strategy and it simply doesn't work. In which case you will want to get curious, look out for others who have done what you have done or can take you a step closer on the way and do what they have done. A good strategy is key but also remember that sometimes results take time so be aware to leave a sufficient window before you start checking. You don't want to be checking every 30 minutes to see if you've lost five pounds yet!
- You could have the right strategy in terms of what to do, but you are using your resources in an unproductive way, spending too much time on too many things or least important things. For example you may have decided to start a coaching business but are spending 90% of your time developing your content when you need to be spending most of your time working on leads and conversion to customers.
3. Outsource The Unimportant Stuff - that someone else could do.
In today's frantic, time demanding world we all can find that we are stretched in trying to make everything fit. Next time you find yourself in this situation, STOP and ask yourself "Do I really need to be doing this? Could someone else do this for me?".
You will find your can oursource alot of the small things and indeed many large by following a few simple principles. Wheather you are in the UK, US or further a field the whole "outsourcing business" has really begun to mushroom over the last five years and is now much more affordable than ever before. To learn more about an outsourced life, read Tim Ferris's "The Four Hour Work Week".
So write down five things you could outsource today and spend an hour finding resources to make that happen. With the Internet you can find willing people who can help you at a comparatively low cost. If you are stretched for cash then offer your services to others in return for their assistance for things that would help you. Remember there is always a way if you remain in a state of possibility, are willing to change your behavioiur and take consistent action UNTIL you get the result you want.
Even if good old Murphy(s) (Law) shows up, eventually he's got to move on to someone else and that will be your opportunity to make what you want happen.
Wishing you a superb 2009. Be well, Live Long and Prosper.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.