2008!! Wow! We’ve already completed the first week of 2008. Wasn’t it only last year that we were reading about all the fear-based concerns forecasting the impending year 2000 “Millennium bug”? Was that eight years ago?
When Greg asked me to post a little article here my knee-jerk reaction was, “I’m too busy, I don’t have time…” And that’s the reason why I agreed to write this. I tell others to do the thing you don’t want to do if you want to be free, and grow and learn. Move into the resistance, rather than away back to the safe, familiar, comfortable habitual behaviors. So, let’s see what shows up here…
The transition from December to January, one year to the next, the old to the new is a time when many of us review and resolve. With good intentions we acknowledge where we fell short in the past and voice good intentions, goals and objectives for the coming 12 months.
Sometime during the first week of each year my wife and I sit down together, away from any distractions and go through what’s become an annual “ritual”—we go through a process to complete the year just finished and voice intentions for the coming 12 months (There’s nothing sacred about 12 months. That’s an arbitrary time period, so we could be talking about 6 months, or two years). We just did this two nights ago.
This is an important time of the year, because I know that where I look is where I go. I create my reality by what I focus upon. And I’m now committing a major part of my next focus. I’m beginning an action that will determine my experience and results for the next period.
COMPLETION, AGREEMENTS & SAYING “NO”
Our first step is to acknowledge what we’re grateful for. We write this down. It’s usually four or five pages for each of us. I’ve made it a habit to look at what I have, do or am to be grateful for, daily. The end of the year list is a summary, and claiming, a receiving and acknowledging. With an attitude of gratitude I’m automatically abundant. I have the experience of abundance and I will never need to endure the loss of any one thing (You might want to read that again).
Every agreement or promise I make and every action I’ve started that is not complete requires a little piece of my consciousness and energy, usually unconsciously. So a next step in our process is to reclaim some of that energy. We list incompletions and decide what we intend to do to complete them. We eliminate or re-chose and re-commit. Often it’s as simple as declaring completion.
Much of the stress experienced in business and personal lives is the result of over committing—agreeing to do more than can be done well, thoroughly, enjoyably and in a balanced manner in the time allotted. If you want to have less stress, learn to say “no”. Be more selective in your choices and agreements.
If I want movement and change, if I want to start something new, I need to stop something. That means saying, “Yes” to one activity is saying “No” to another.
For example, last week I looked around my office and home and noticed that I had three books and four magazines open. I have been in the process of reading them—a couple of them I started several months, or more, ago. Those are incompletions, and broken agreements with myself (I’ll get to that in a minute). I know that I pay a big price for broken agreements, and lose energy and focus when my environment is filled with incompletes.
So what can I do? I closed two of the books and put them back on the bookshelf. I tossed a couple of the magazines in the trash, and I closed the others. Done. Complete! Energy reclaimed. Later I can choose again to read them. If I want. For now I’m choosing something else. I’m always amazed at how much better I feel after simple acts such as those. I begin to feel more in charge, more of the author(ity) of my life.
Some completions may take a little more effort and time. Some I can renegotiate (with myself, or someone else if they are involved). Basically I’m reviewing my past choices and bringing them into the present and making a new choice. Sometimes that may be the same one as in the past; sometimes it’s altogether new. After all, in some ways I’m hopefully a different person, with different information at this moment than when I originally made the choice. What would I chose now?
When I reviewed my incompletions last week I found very few projects and activities that I wanted to cancel, or say no to. That’s good news to me. That means I’m on course and have kept pretty current and present. I did however clarify or remember what my agreements and commitments are. That’s been very helpful to me already. A couple days ago the managing director of a company I’m an advisor to and investor in asked me to get more involved in a particular operational challenge the company was having. That would have entailed more work and time commitment. With the recall of what I originally agreed to fresh in my mind, and remembering what I’m best at and enjoy, it was easy to say “no”, thank you. In the past I might have been afraid I’d upset the client, spark disapproval, be judged, or even lose the contract (and money). However, I’ve learned that the price I pay for not being true to myself, and making my choices from the inside out, is even greater.
Often in seminars I will ask the group, “Who would like greater self-esteem? More confidence? Greater self-trust? Better relationships? More energy? Consistently, in every country (94 so far) and every seminar, around 95% of the hands are raised. And then we launch into a two-hour lecturette and process.
We probably don’t have the space for all that here, so I’ll just give the bottom line–THE KEY to experiencing all of these rewards is basically, KEEP YOUR AGREEMENTS!
Or, alternatively, if you are experiencing low self-esteem, lack of trust, low confidence, deteriorating relationships, low energy, look to your agreements. Chances are you’re overcommiting and/or not keeping them.
And, the reason we’re looking at this now, at the beginning of 2008, is that this is the time of the year when people make resolutions—This year I’m going to lose weight, start an exercise program, play and laugh more, risk more, travel to…, relax and pause more (work hard, rest often), take that speed reading class, spend more time with my children, write a book, eat healthier food, learn a new language… These are all agreements with our selves. And if we don’t keep them, we automatically suffer the consequences called low self-esteem, lack of trust, low confidence, deteriorating relationships, low energy. Automatically. A part of our conscious doesn’t register if we broke the agreement just a little or a lot, or if it was a big agreement or a little one. It is binary, Yes or no? Did you do what you said you’d do or not? Did you keep your word? The process is unconscious, internally, and the consequences are automatic. Whether we keep the agreement or break it. So, what do do?
Some tips to assist in keeping agreements:
1. Write done your agreements and promises. I have an agreement with myself that if it’s not written down I haven’t agreed to it. I also have a list in my Palm Pilot (soon to be transferred to my new iPhone) called, “Pretty good idea, someday maybe”. I’m curious, and active. I daily discover many things I’d like to jump into or learn more about. Some of those I don’t want to forget, so they go in my Someday Maybe list. It’s a great list, and I review it periodically. Every once in awhile I actually commit to something on the list. My best selling book was on this list for three years before I committed to writing it.
2. Learn to say “No”. You have that right, and I’d say responsibility. It’s part of being true to yourself and taking care of yourself and following your heart. I have a stress reduction seminar designed around learning to say no. It’s important, and it’s something a majority of us have difficulty with.
3. Renegotiate. We make agreements with the information, abilities, knowledge, skills and feelings we have at the time. As we get involved in whatever is the activity and process we gain more information, skill, knowledge and ability and thus at any future moment, if we were to make that choice again it may well be a different or modified choice. We have the right to renegotiate. To change.
4. Make agreements important. If I realize how important they are, and the consequences for breaking them and the rewards for keeping them, I find it easy to realize how important they are. And if I get they are important I will keep them.
This has gotten long. I thought I was going to discourse about intentions and methods, focusing on what rather than how and setting goals, and how those are different from Purpose, Mission, Dreams, Visions. Some other time…
Thanks Greg for asking me to do this. I’m already closer to where I want to be than when I began : )
FORM & STRUCTURE
For those of you who want more form and structure, here are some questions that can guide you in your 2007 review and 2008 goal setting. When I go through these kinds of questions I like to consider my answers in several area:
Completing and Remembering 2007
What was your biggest triumph in 2007?
What was the smartest decision you made in 2007?
What one word best sums up and describes your 2007 experience?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2007?
What was the most loving service you performed in 2007?
What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2007?
What are you most happy about completing in 2007?
Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2007?
What was the biggest risk you took in 2007?
What was the biggest surprise in 2007?
What important relationship improved the most in 2007?
What compliment would you liked to have received in 2007?
What compliment would you liked to have given in 2007?
What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2007?
What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2008?
What advice would you like to give yourself in 2008?
What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2008?
What would you be most happy about completing in 2008?
What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2008?
What would you most like to change about yourself in 2008?
What are you looking forward to learning in 2008?
What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2008?
What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2008?
What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2008?
What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2008?
Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2008?
What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2008?