From December 2013

Happy Holidays. Take time to hit the pause button.

MerryChristmas_lights

There’s a lot riding on the biggest holiday season of the year. For retailers it’s the time to make it or break it. Most wait all year for this day. For individuals, it’s the time where expectations are high and we run frantically, shopping for the right gifts for our family and friends. A day where family dynamics play out – good and bad. Some love this day for the light and sparkle and anticipation it brings.

I was sad to see the Christmas season encroaching more and more on fall. Halloween day saw the Christmas displays going up and ads had started prior. And stores started opening on Thanksgiving for the first time. We’re losing fall and all it brings in the name of commerce.

I heard a story on NPR about the sadness in many of our favorite Christmas songs – like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas and Home for the Holidays. The lyrics refer to better times in the past and hope for the future because the current times are a little blue. The story talked about how these songs likely bring joy when we’re not feeling down, and I would agree.

As a child, I couldn’t get enough of the lights and the Christmas tree. The more and bigger, the better. Even now, our small family has to have just the right tree. And we MUST cut it down. It’s just not the same otherwise.  It’s not just Christmas day, it’s the process that makes it special. And it is much fun to establish new traditions and share the season with our daughter, who loves every bit of it.

It’s the little things, really. The night before Christmas Eve our new neighbors stopped by with cookies, just to say hi. It was unexpected and so nice and something that’s often lost in many neighborhoods. It’s that sense of community that makes us feel more connected and the season more special.

So take time from your busyness and be present with those closest to you. Find little moments out of the chaos, pause and smile. All the best!

Three operational words for 2014

Stars_2014

For next year, I am putting some meat into my thinking. You see, I spend a lot of time in my head. I like to think. I like to dream. I like generating ideas. I see possibility in so many things. And you could say I take way too many pictures, filling hard drive after hard drive. Many of them will look great hanging on a wall I tell myself.  But then I get caught up in perfection, in wanting to envision the final manifestation of these thoughts and ideas and possibilities. And the cycle repeats. Too many disparate projects and pursuits, and not enough pruning and focus.

So here we go. Three words to fix this conundrum. Three words to be held accountable to by you. Even if no one but me reads this, I know this is out there and it changes things. It’s a mindset.

 

Momentum

This is about putting conscious energy behind key goals and dreams and making them happen. It’s about focused action that builds with each step and piece. We get disillusioned when we envision a big hairy goal but don’t see the path or the leap is too large. Momentum is about starting, doing, and pushing through and over the hurdles littering the way forward. It’s also about making choices of where to put my energy, and what needs to be parked for another day.

Presence

We spend so much of our time caught up in our own devices that we struggle with being fully present in the moment and with the people in front of us. We’re always thinking about the future, rather than savoring and absorbing all that is happening in the now.  I read recently where recording every moment actually inhibits our memory and experience of it. Sometimes we need to put down the device and focus. Myself included. So I will make a conscious effort to be more present every day. And make sure I make every day count. In what I do., and in what I accomplish. While it’s important to plan for the future, focusing on the now with purpose is what will help us realize our dreams and plans.  Multitasking has it’s dark side – and it’s a loss of presence.

Risk

This is where the rubber meets the road. Risk is about being vulnerable. It’s about not worrying so much about what others think or applying another coat of varnish. It’s about putting the work and thoughts I believe in out in the ether. Consistently. This draws on Eric Ries’s Lead Start Up philosophy as well as a call to get out of my head, out of my own way and act on the things that are near and dear. Because it seems the things that matter most – and have more resonance – are those things in which we feel more vulnerable. The things that seems to have more risk. If you play it safe you get nowhere. It’s just noise at that point. You can’t prove a new idea in advance. Your experience and intuition can guide you along the path. You – and I – know our risk tolerances. This is about testing and pushing those tolerances a bit farther. Maybe a lot farther.

Three little words. But three words that are my guide for evaluating what I start doing, keep doing and stop doing next year. It’s about making choices and designing a map that doesn’t yet exist. What are your three words?