Leap, don't fall, into the new year with Autumnal Equinox

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Today at 2:18pm PST, Autumnal Equinox pushed us into the last stretch of the year.

Each year this happens, in addition to jumping for joy that 100+ degree temperatures will end here soon in Arizona, I always realize that there are three precious months to get cleared out and revved up for the new year.

Here are a few suggestions for using the remainder of the year in a way that is both free of stress, enjoyable and will start 2010 off in a big way:

1)  Identify the key hot spots in your business, and spend three months clearing out everything that gets in the way of growing them.  Look at all the things you are doing right now.  Which products or services are going to deliver killer value to your clients? What do you do better than any of your competitors? Which are the most profitable, and enjoyable activities in your business?  As hard as it may be to give up certain things you enjoy, prune back unnecessary activities and watch your business soar.

2) Simplify, and downsize.  Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, has wonderful, concrete suggestions for making your life cleaner, clearer and more organized in his book, as well as his blog Zen Habits.  His own story is powerful (I profiled him in my book), moving from overweight, stressed, smoking employee father of six to running, writing, free agent and blogging entrepreneur (and still a happy father of six).  Use the time before the holidays to clean out closets, remove cobwebs, clear out files, streamline systems and make room for what’s new.

3) Meditate on what you want from the holidays.  Then make some changes.  Last year, my family all decided that we wanted to scale back on gift giving, since it was increasingly difficult to find meaningful presents, and because it added unnecessary stress and expense to the holidays.  We used Elfster.com to draw names for gift giving, which simplified things a lot.  My friend life coach Susan Hyatt did a fun and very useful program last year called “This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Christmas” which helped people focus on what they really wanted out of Christmas, to reduce the stress hurricane that makes many families long for the peace of the new year.  If you celebrate another holiday, look for ways to make it more economical, more fun and more enriching.

4)  Plan for time off to do nothing at all.  Family is so important. And it is great to spend time together and eat good food. But does it have to be at the end of the year when travel prices are high, flu germs are flying through the air and airports are packed? We have decided to sit at home this year during the holidays, then to visit my parents in California when things aren’t so rushed. Our kids won’t be stressed from visiting 12 different houses as we cram time to see the whole family, we will save money, and we can use the time to just hang out together, go hiking and get ready for the new year.

Some of these adjustments may not please everyone in your life.

  • Some clients may not like the fact that you stop a program or raise your prices
  • Some family members may feel that you are being totally selfish to stay home for the holidays, regardless of how much stress a trip would cause.
  • While most of Leo’s own community were supportive of his experiment, a few were perturbed when he floated the idea of stopping email to regain control of his life.  Harsh words from a commenter named “Don’t be a snob Leo” (anonymous of course!):

Leo, please look at yourself!

Simplicity, the thing you advocate, has gotten the better of you.

More than anything, recently, between the lines, you seem like you’re losing direction – where to take the blog next, what exactly is your philosophy… you say you let things develop on their own, but that’s just saying you don’t know where to go.

And so you’re shoveling nonsensical content and experimental ideas onto your blog that have less and less spirit in them and that read increasingly like Cosmopolitan’s 10 Ways how to please him in bed.

You have recently changed to a simpler layout, you want to get physically rid of some of your “distractions” – it’s all symptomatic of what’s happening – you are losing direction and trying to simplify the appearance (blog skin), or the factors (eliminating e-mail), just because you think simple and less is better.

You simplify and simplify… until there is no meaning left.

But then, when confronted with complexities of a problem that doesn’t seem to get solved by a simple move (because the move is TOO simple), your explanations are increasingly in the area of “I can’t please everyone, I have my own life to think of, that’s how I do things, it’s just something I decided for myself because it makes me happy”.

Like it or not, you’re this close to becoming a snob.

I can’t get over the last line where Leo is accused of saying/thinking:

“I can’t please everyone, I have my own life to think of, that’s how I do things, it’s just something I decided for myself because it makes me happy”.

Doesn’t that sound pretty in line with zen habits?  What exactly does that have to do with being a snob?

If you get any cranky comments like Leo did, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will making these adjustments reduce my stress, improve my health and/or strengthen my relationships?
  • Will making these adjustments allow me to serve more people, or serve a smaller number more deeply?
  • Will making these adjustments improve the health of my cash flow and business, allowing me to make more meaning in the world and in the lives of my clients?
  • Will this be more fun, regardless of what anyone thinks?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, go for it!

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything, said Malcolm X (after Alexander Hamilton said it 220 years before).

Pun intended! 🙂

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13 Responses to “Leap, don't fall, into the new year with Autumnal Equinox”

  1. lottiel1 says:

    Great ideas for those search of real balance fun and work
    .-= lottiel1´s last blog ..Return On Assets =-.

  2. Nate says:

    Excellent post!

    I specifically love #2 – Simplify and Downsize.

    I’m an avid reader of Leo’s blog and he is the man! I’ve definitely taken his advice to heart in order to simplify and organize my life.

    One of the items I focus on now is holding myself accountable. For example, my pantry was in disarray for months. I told myself every week that I should really clean it, but I never did.

    So, finally one week I just put it into my plan of tasks just like any other work related task or personal task that needed to be accomplished. The task was ‘clean out pantry by Sunday evening.’ Holding myself accountable gave me the kick in the butt I needed to take some action.

    I finally cleaned out the pantry and I felt especially good being able to physically check it off my ‘to-do’ list. It may not sound like much, but just the psychological process of checking something off a list as accomplished can do wonders in making you feel much more productive!
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Tips on Setting Career Goals =-.

  3. Austin says:

    I think some people have forgotten that the purpose of a blog is to be a running commentary and expression by its creator, in this given case, Leo.

    A blog, especially a personal one, is not a democracy. A forum is probably more like a democracy.

  4. Jim Taggart says:

    Sound advice, Pam, and thanks for sharing some of Leo’s wisdom. I’ve started reading his blog, following references to him in your new book.

    I would add one aspect, especially as it relates to Leo’s four points. It’s important that each of us be “present” in body, mind and spirit, whether at work, at home or in our communities. In doing so, we’ll be better able to make the tough decisions and control stress.
    .-= Jim Taggart´s last blog ..Leaderly Quotations: Which One Speaks to You? =-.

  5. Michele says:

    Wonderful suggestions to meet the fall energies. It’s such a rich deep time to gather the seed thoughts for 2010 vision boards.
    .-= Michele´s last blog ..Fall-time to harvest, Mercury goes direct =-.

  6. Love this post, and not just because it reminded me that *fall is just about here, woo hoo!!*

    It’s so easy for fall and the coming holidays to get overcrowded with stuff: stuff to do, stuff to buy for other people, stuff to cook, make, etc. So it’s a great idea to focus on simplifying for the fall to counteract that crowding.
    .-= Catherine Cantieri, Sorted´s last blog ..The curse of "awesome-ism" =-.

  7. Tisha Morris says:

    Great article! I really like the idea of re-evaluating in advance what you want the holiday season to be like. So often we find ourselves smack down in the middle of December in dread wishing we had taken a vacation. Planning ahead for this chaotic time is smart to avoid falling into the same ‘ol holiday pattern.
    .-= Tisha Morris´s last blog ..Raising Your Energy Vibration Through Your Home =-.

  8. Funny…..your post totally answered a question I had about how to use the energy associated with this time of year!
    I agree that it is so important to take stock in what we have created for ourselves and focus our attention on what we want more of and what is working for us….letting go of the dead weight as we do this. I find that many people have a hard time letting go of what is not working and would rather focus lots of energy on “fixing’ it. Seems like a waste of time to me!
    I think it is a common thing to experience resistance to change from the people around you. Many of my clients struggle with that idea, and are very concerned with other folks happiness. When it comes right down to it, I am responsible for my own happiness…and you are responsible for yours…and we can all easily be happy together doing our own thing and sharing all the juicy goodness that being happy brings to each of us with each other.
    .-= Leah/DefytheBox´s last blog ..A Hedonist Adventure =-.

  9. Hi Pam,

    This post has made me stop and think. I’ve been living my life at a hundred miles an hour recently – and loving it! – but have given no thought to my next block of time off, when that may be, or how I may spend it. Reading your article, I’ve mentally promised myself at least two weeks off over the Christmas/New Year period. I’m moving from the City to the country in October, and suddenly I’ve had this wave of imagining myself there, really relaxing with my partner and family. It’s also stoked me too to set goals for what I want for the rest of the year, so that when that break comes, I can relax and say to myself “I did that!”

    Thank you!
    .-= Christine Livingston´s last blog ..What you ought to know about working for yourself =-.

  10. gina rudan says:

    I find myself once again at a airport reading your post and jumping with joy for you just gave me the “permission” or excuse sometimes needed to say “no” to those activities that really aren’t adding value to my life. First day of Fall was huge for me as a child growing up th NYC. I now live in Miami and have forgotten this rites of passage. Thank you for bringing back the great memory of “now I get to drink warm apple cider” and for inspireing me to focus.

  11. Mike Duffy says:

    Today is the Autumnal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox is in March each year. That’s OK, it’s not the first day of Fall, either:

    Are you sure you are not Leo’s commenter Mike?

    Just kidding, sorry to get my equinoxes mixed up, I was doing 12 things today and moved too fast. Corrected.

    I do realize it is not the first day of Fall. I am talking general seasons here, so I appreciate your working with me.


  12. Hi Pam,

    I too like using the earth’s cycles to stimulate fresh thinking. Here is Australia September 1 marked the start of spring, which I used as an impetus to make a fresh start (publicly, on my blog – eek!) in a number of life areas. It was surprisingly motivating!

    And you’re so right that your own change may upset others. The psychological ecology of our lives is subtle but unmistakable. We start to flap our wings and suddenly there’s a storm brewing!

    Thanks for these thought-provoking ideas. You are an inspiration.

    Michele 🙂
    .-= Michele Connolly, Get Organized Wizard´s last blog ..The One Thing You Must Do If You Want To Get Organized =-.

  13. Ron says:

    “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything, said Malcolm X.”

    Actually, Alexander Hamilton said that about 220+ years ago. Malcolm X was just copying him.

    I stand corrected, and blog post updated!


    .-= Ron´s last blog ..Should You File For Bankruptcy? =-.