What can you do to make sense of your inner and outer worlds? In this annual guide, I share timely insights to help you navigate your work and life with more grace, ease and fulfillment.
When I sent Happy New Year greetings to some close friends last week, many told me they were glad to put the old year behind them. There’s lots of fanfare when we usher in a new year, which is important in and of itself. It also got me wondering if we do enough work at the transition of each year to notice where we’ve been, where we most want to go and how our current environmental realities can support us in getting there. This helps generate New Year’s resolutions from the inside out, and buffets them against the distractions of the coming year.
With this in mind, I was inspired to begin a tradition of offering a succinct annual guide to leaders like you who want to innovate from a place of alignment and conviction. This is equal parts an experiment and a desire to offer you something to benefit your journey through the year.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on what resonates with you, or what you decide to try on for size. Let me know in the comments below!
1. Global events are more personal than ever.
I remember a time when I could watch the evening news about something erupting on the other side of the world, and simply think ‘that’s interesting’. We don’t have that luxury of detachment anymore. The more globalized and interconnected our work and personal lives become, the more we need to understand or at least pay attention to the world around us. This isn’t an excuse to gorge on or be overwhelmed by media reports. It’s more of an invitation to notice trends and impulses that are in your environment and a request to be curious about them. For example, I’ve decided to write one opinion piece a week this year, on a topic that moves or affects me in some way. (Check out my thought leadership page for articles that I’ve written so far.)
2. Set up your information filters for the year.
This is a more nuanced form of goal-setting, and sits on top of any pre-built information-capturing mechanisms you have. If you’ve visualized what you want to accomplish by Dec 31st 2016, this exercise will help you tune out the noise and turn up the signals. For instance, I know that I will be researching and learning about a few key topics for my next book. It helps to have a concrete endpoint like a book to focus your efforts, but even the desire to master a new subject area can help you say no to that addictive social media news feed. 🙂
3. Design one ‘change the world’ project for yourself.
Most of my readers are executives or entrepreneurs who have a burning desire to change the world in some way. For some of you, your entire business or life is already focused on solving a problem you care deeply about. Some of you may have day jobs or commitments that make a full-fledged leap into change-the-world territory unrealistic right now. Either way, find a way to scale your project to your reality. One of my childhood friends works for a multinational corporation, and has recently been feeling the pull to give back to society. We chatted about this a couple of months ago and, this week, he began a fund-raising drive for a non-profit that’s close to his heart. When you allow your heart to drive you, the scope of the project is immaterial, and the joy you feel is immeasurable.
4. Trust that all will be well.
This has been a hard one for me to learn. I think it’s a curse of planners and leaders everywhere, because we often believe that our best-laid plans must and should pan out as is. After all, we spent weeks or months agonizing over every detail, covering the bases, and building in contingency upon contingency, right? The truth is, the world is now complex and unpredictable enough to make intricate plans seem like a fool’s errand. There are ways to co-exist with and even thrive in this uncertainty, something that I’ll share more of in subsequent posts. (Join my mailing list if you want to stay in the loop.) For now, I will say that if life has taught me anything, it’s that hindsight is not only 20/20 but also a chance to notice that no matter how tough or crazy things get, we somehow prevail. Don’t underestimate your capacity for resilience and ingenuity when the going gets tough.
5. Time is largely an inner construct.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. It fascinates me how some of us find a way to live gracefully with and in time, while others seem to constantly be at odds with it. This goes beyond Type A vs. Type B sensibilities, and is an expression of how we relate to weightier things like success, legacy and death. For every person who believes there’s never enough time to complete their to-do list, there’s at least one fellow human being who believes they have all the time in the world to do what matters. I’ve lived at both ends of this spectrum, and have since made peace somewhere in the delightful middle. (PS: I’ve created a 30-day practice to share some of the vital things I’ve learned about time. Learn more and sign up here.)
May 2016 be a time of positive change and profound success for you, your organization and your world.
In peace & inventiveness,