7 Life-Changing Things I Learned in 2015

  • Don’t wait till you’re ready” before you commit to whatever calls you.  This is my motto for 2016.  Now, I don't mean that careful preparation is unnecessary!  But, we can sabotage our dreams if we get stuck trying to “figure out how” something amazing could happen.  When you are deciding to reach for something bigger than you think you’re ready for, you will have the most amazing experience if you just reach out and commit yourself.  When this is the right choice for you, the details often work themselves out in ways you could not have predicted.  How you prepare for it is to stay focused on what you're trying to create in your life, and let yourself feel and act if it has happened already.

    In 2015, I left my cubicle job for a life of joyful self-employment, and this is how I did it.  True, I “wasn’t ready” in terms of doing all the math about how I was going to make it financially on my own, but a deeper truth was that I had been more than ready to leave that job for years and I was never going to work out my options clear-headedly as long as I was still employed there.  I credit Karen Mozes for teaching me that “how” is not a helpful question to ask, when you are choosing to do something extraordinary.   Being able to live a life you had only dreamed of, means that when you feel called, and make a commitment, and trust in "the universe" to work out the details, the path will be made clear.

  • You can accomplish amazing things, including really daunting challenges, or tasks that you have been procrastinating forever if you commit to small steps in the right direction, every day, consistently.  I credit Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge for this discovery.  See http://www.slideshare.net/bright9977/7-principles-of-the-slight-edge -for more.

  • In his book, The One Thing   Gary Keller asks the intriguing question:  "What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"  http://www.the1thing.com/  I find this is a helpful question to ask when looking at where I'd want to be at the end of this year, this month, this week, and as today comes to an end.   What I'm finding is that often, the answer to that question is NOT something on my to-do list but something more fundamental and nourishing - like going for a walk, meditating, reviewing my vision for this year, recording affirmations, or other things that support my spirit and mental wellbeing.

  • Look BACK at 2016.  Imagine that it's one year from now, and you are looking back on the past 12 months, at all you've accomplished, and the specific blessings that have come into your life.  This is better than writing down a vision that takes place in the "future," because you are envisioning all these positive changes as already accomplished.  I actually put some of my vision for this year on my 2016 calendar - though I have no idea now, how these things might materialize.  I thank Karen Mozes for this unusual approach to visualization. 

         The last three tips from 2015 have to do with how we relate to TIME.

  • We don’t need long lists of to-do items, we just need the right list for us.  Checking off a bunch of things on a to-do list doesn’t necessarily mean we are moving any closer to our most heart-felt goals, it just means we’re feeling really busy!  See The One Thing for more.

  • Multitasking leaves us feeling more scattered, pressured and off-game - and it's an illusion that doing two things at once saves time.  Confession, I still multitask now and then, and find it much easier to give this advice than to do it consistently myself.  It's something ingrained from 17 years doing administrative work in a busy city hospital, that I brought home with me.  But now, when I do try to do more than one mental activity at a time (reading email while listening to a webinar, for example) I notice the stress in my body.  Which is not on the list of things I want to create in my life! 

What's much more productive is to block out chunks of time for what really matters and give that your full attention.  You might be amazed.  I use music designed to enhance concentration, and set a timer so I'm committing myself to keeping it short and snappy, or else building up my stride, depending on what the job is, and how long I have to work on it.  For one music-plus-timer option, see focus@will.com.

  • You always have more than enough time for what really counts.  See the chapter on “Einstein Time” in The Big Jump by Gay Hendricks.  Besides being crystal-clear about your priorities, slowing down time by meditating can make a huge difference.  Invest your time strategically so that you add more value to your precious time! 

April, 2016: Experimenting with the same principle described above I auditioned this past January for a role in "Hamlet," something I certainly "wasn't ready" for since I hadn't performed onstage for a couple of decades, and never in a Shakespeare play, so this was a real stretch.  Literally a stretch, since the company doing this performance was a 6-hour round trip away, and I don’t own a car!  So even if I got the role, it didn’t seem practical. 

However, instead of brushing off the idea that was calling me, I put it into action, rented a zipcar, drove to the audition in the foothills of the White Mountains, and had a wonderful time.  The audition was more like a collaborative workshop than a competition, and I liked how we were working together, so now I wanted to be in this play even more.  

AFTER the audition, I began memorizing the script for the part I wanted as if it had been confirmed already, reciting the lines every day, pondering the character's motivations, reading everything I could about Hamlet.  I realized I would need to go live there for a month if I was going to participate in daily rehearsals, so I also began looking for subs for my classes and a place for my kitty to stay in my absence – everything that would need to happen at this end in case my desire materialized.  I ended up being offered the role, and THEN I was ready!  A room in a local home materialized at the last minute, and so did my refund check from the IRS which covered the cost of the rental car.

Several days into rehearsals, I woke up and thought to myself, "I am inhabiting my wildest daydream!"  I've never been on a month-long vacation, and this lifestyle of focusing my day around memorizing lines and working closely with a team and bringing this old story to life felt like a real vacation to me!

Is there some far-fetched wish that’s been pulling on you, but you shrug it off because it’s not practical or you’re “not ready”?

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I hope you've found something here that energizes you or guides you in a positive direction.  If you are trying any of these suggestions, I'd love to hear how they are working for you! 

Here's to all of us and our most positive intentions for 2016!!