About halfway through writing my book this year, I hit the wall.
I made a list of the titles of the sixteen chapters, taped it to my computer monitor, and used a highlighter to cross off each one as I finished.
“Don’t bother to dust extensively when guests come over, just put out fresh flowers. They will think you are a perfect housekeeper.”and“Don’t think you have to make everything from scratch – get a high-quality store-bought item (like a pie or a casserole), cook it, set it on fine china, and when people compliment you on your cooking, say “thank you!”
- Make The Big List.
This is your opportunity to empty your head of all the hundreds of things you want to get done next year like: “lose 10 pounds,” “start newsletter,” “write book,” “clean out the files in my office,” “create 10 new information products,” “get in 5 news publications,” or “start a blog,” or “create a beta version of my software product.”
- Think about your deeper contribution, purpose or mantra for the year.
My friend Christine Kane wrote a nice article last year about choosing one word to start a new year instead of the dreaded resolutions. The month of December she included guest posts from readers who talked about their results with their words.
If one word feels too limiting, choose a mantra (described by Guy Kawasaki) like “inspire freedom,” or “encourage healthy relationships” or “kick serious creative bootie.”
You should feel passionate about your word or purpose or mantra — lukewarm feelings get nothing done!
- Cross off anything from the list that does not directly serve your deeper purpose.
This can be a tough task for those of you who have been doing things the same way for a long time. But it is essential! If you want to serve more people, live bigger, stress less and accomplish more, you must release unproductive tasks and thoughts and, yes, even people from your list.
So if “have lunch every Wednesday with your friend Wendy the Winer” is on your Big List and your mantra for 2009 is “energizing partnerships,” guess what? Lunches with Wendy might have to go.
You may also have a lot of “would be nice someday” things on your list that are not really relevant to either the economic climate this year, your focus or or the timeframe of one year. Save those things for next year, and see if they still are relevant enough to include for 2010.
- Create a simple 4×4 grid with one square for each quarter.
Depending on your love of technology, this can be a simple piece of 8 1/2 x11 paper, an Excel spreadsheet, Word table, or, my favorite in the brainstorming phase, a flip chart with post-it notes for individual activities.
Label each square with a quarter.
Square One: January – March
Square Two: April – June
Square Three: July – September
Square Four: October – December
- Map your activities into the squares.
This is where you get to play around with the sequence of certain activities. You might find a natural order to things, like you have to start your mailing list before you design and launch your new information products. You might want to design some custom landing pages on your website before doing a major promotion to the press or organizations. You may want to do lots of exercise before entering an Ironman competition.
Do your best to lay out activities within each quarter. You don’t have to get it perfect, or to worry too much about the order of things in the 2nd to 4th quarters, since plans may change as you finish the first quarter. But at least you can get started, and prioritize the things you must do early in the year versus later.
- Get your massive plan down to a very short list which you can start in January.
Here is the real beauty of all this work. Since you know that you will get to all the items on your list eventually, you can stop worrying about them and just focus on what’s ahead.
Once I did this with my book, my creativity returned, and my writing flowed.
Pick the most logical, highest impact activity to work on first thing next week, and get working on it.
- Celebrate every little accomplishment.
Martha Beck gave me great advice when I was writing my book — she told me to never forget to reward myself for getting even the tiniest thing done. When you promise yourself that if you complete a certain task you will get a pedicure, or go fishing, or get to play 2 hours of uninterrupted Doom on your computer, you must do it! Otherwise, your finicky inner self will realize that your promises are empty, and will not hustle so hard to complete the next task you ask it to work on.
I am absolutely thrilled with the change coming to our country in the new year, and feel real enthusiasm and excitement for 2009.
- The photo for this post is a shot I took at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Inspired by my
Brazilian compadres who have a wonderful new year celebration at the
beach, we went out to the ocean to give thanks for 2008 and welcome in
2009. My Dad gave our older son Jeffery a camera, which he adores, and
I caught him taking this shot of our younger son Josh. It captured
everything I want in the new year: love, creativity, strength,
abundance and, per the topic of this newsletter, focus.
- I posted my new schedule for free monthly coaching calls for 2009 on my blog – check them out if you want some advice and ideas to help get your business off the ground.