This will be the third time I have posted this blog as a kick off to a new year.
Interestingly, it is the blog where I have received the most ‘likes’ and feedback over the past two years. (Hint: Please forward this to all your mates and ‘like’ it yourself – I’d love to break last year’s record!)
Being the third time, I feel I can now own this as my annual Green Tea and Dark Chocolate blog.
Those who know me well know that I cannot live without my green tea; and dark chocolate, whilst attempting to reduce its influence on my life, still holds its own on my Five Essential Foods list.
Having a theme for the year has served me well over the past few years.
Your brain is dealing with many, many bits of information and data entering your senses at any one time, and you only have capacity to pay conscious attention to a relatively small amount.
The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a useful little part of your brain that decides what data – from outside and inside your body – your brain will pay attention to.
The issue to consider is whether the choices your RAS are making are useful for you!
In the absence of any direction from you, the choices and decisions your RAS makes will be…
- random, or
- based on your past instructions or interests or random thoughts, OR
- in line with a more primitive decision-making set of instructions designed to ensure your survival.
In light of this, taking the time teach year to give my RAS the gift of a solid ‘theme’ for the year has served me well.
For example, my theme back in 2014 was ‘PROFILE’– I wanted to raise the profile of my business and my expertise to attract new clients.
What happened was three-fold:
- I started to come across (and pay attention to) more opportunities to raise or contribute to my business and professional profile.
- I was proactive in making decisions that supported that particular outcome over other potential outcomes.
- I was more likely to act on such opportunities than I would have been in the past.
As a result, I more easily achieved my business objectives than I had anticipated.
In the absence of a well-thought out ‘theme’ I would probably not have paid as much. Or any attention to the opportunities. Or I may have tended to continue to make decisions and choices similar to the previous year (stay in my comfort zone). Or I may have failed to overcome my inertia on acting on the opportunities due to a desire to protect myself from the risk of doing something new and different.
In 2015 my theme was REWIRE – helping my clients to change their thinking and behavioural habits through the evolution of my programs. In 2016 it was CORE and I was on the road to developing an entire curriculum around this concept. BUT, CORE didn’t actually happen – instead, it evolved to a different but even better curriculum.
Over the last three years, the specifics I had in mind didn’t necessarily appear precisely as intended, but something else of equal value did. It was the fact that I was on a journey and had a thematic end in mind that counted. The fact that the goal wasn’t so specific also let me off the hook so I didn’t get caught up in ‘failure’.
Doing new, great stuff is difficult for the human brain and requires deliberate attention and undesirable effort. So, to make this a little easier, I encourage you to take some time TODAY to start providing some guidance for your RAS this year.
Here is my SEVEN STEP process to get you started…
FIRST…take some time out and head to a café where you can indulge in coffee and cake (or green tea and dark chocolate in my case – there it is – finally the reference to the title), and a notebook or device or small whiteboard depending on your personal process for scribbling and creating!
THEN…just reflect on what you want—big picture 1/3/5 years from now, how last year went, what needs to be different, what will give you the biggest bang for your buck this year, what you don’t want to happen this year, where you want to be in December… Create a vision board of scribbles and key words—WHATEVER takes your reflection fancy. AVOID lists and lengthy prose – use bubbles and key words and pretty pictures. Do this…
SO YOU CAN…land on a series of tangible and intangible goals that excite you! Let your imagination go here…don’t hold back. You need to zoom in to some specifics before you zoom out again to find your theme (note…these goals must EXCITE you).
NOW YOU NEED TO…take a step back and consider the shift or change or ONE THING that is going to make a difference and help you to achieve these goals – what has been the barrier in the past, what has gotten in the way, or what have you failed to do enough of or well enough. Write down a few ideas and order another cupcake or dark chocolate thingy.
AND THEN…forget it all for a while… That’s enough for now. Stop thinking about it and take a few days to let your brain percolate over this. Add to your notes as ideas come. Discuss it over more coffee. Eventually, the WORD or THEME will hit you when you least expect it, and when it does…
PROCLAIM TO THE WORLD…write it, blog about it, draw it, figure out what it looks like everyday, share it with your team and discuss what it means for you and them. Immerse yourself in it, set mindful reminders to make sure it is in front of mind. Do whatever you need to do to clearly instruct your RAS that THIS IS IT FOR 2017…this is our (meaning you and your brain’s) goal, our influencing context, our foundation, our driver. Hardwire it into your RAS – then get on with your year. And finally…
TEST YOURSELF and PIVOT… At the end of a meeting or conversation ask yourself…did I engage with my theme? Set device reminders to make sure you check in and reconnect with it regularly. If things aren’t quite working out, then PIVOT – make a small change in direction or energy to keep you on track. It’s OK to let your theme evolve.
At the end of the day/month etc, diarise a green tea and dark chocolate meeting with yourself and/or your team to reflect on how your theme is going. The BIG TEST is whether the theme is influencing your professional decisions and behaviours. If not, it’s probably not the right theme, or you are not really committed to it – just interested in the idea of it! If this is the case, change it, or get off your butt and commit to it.
Good luck. I hope it works for you like it works for me.
By the way, my words for 2017 is LEADING HUMANS. I feel a passion for becoming one (a better version of myself), and for creating them, so they can in turn lead them! Watch this space.
Welcome to 2017 – your best year ever – and I look forward to supporting you on your professional and personal journey!