Headlines are screaming it, social media memes are being made, wish lists are being created…and possibly, life savings are being lost. You don’t have to go far to hear about the lottery that’s now up to a staggering one and a half billion dollar jackpot. Incredible, isn’t it? But whether you’re scoffing at the dreamers, counting down the minutes until the next drawing, or you’re somewhere in between, there’s a simple lesson each one of us can learn from the Powerball mania that some might say is sweeping our nation.
Last week we had our monthly board meeting with the members in the Boardroom. As you might expect at the beginning of the year, I challenged them to set their goals for the year and make a plan to actually follow through. But there’s one thing I like to do at this time of year that many others overlook.
In addition to setting goals to be conquered in the current year, it’s a good practice to take some time to dream big.
Because when else are you going to do it?
If you can’t first come up with the dream, you don’t have a chance at seeing that dream become a reality.
But if you’re like me the first time I was introduced to this idea of outrageously big dreams, you’re going to struggle to come up with some. It helped me then to use Tim Ferriss’ strategy of identifying something you wish you could have, could do or could be.
I wish I could have a cabin in the mountains big enough for my extended family and my friends to visit.
I wish I could spend the entire month of January in Hawaii (or another tropical location)…every year.
I wish I could start a kids’ running club network in the local schools.
What does all of this have to do with the ridiculous Powerball jackpot?
This week I’ve been tuning into the Peak Work Performance Summit, where over two dozen authors and productivity experts are sharing their best practices for getting things done. I’ve never seen so many brilliant minds in one location (virtual or not!) I’ve had to press pause often to capture some of the great strategies and insights shared, and today I’m going to share some of my favorites with you.
First on my list to watch was, of course, Greg McKeown, author of my favorite book Essentialism.
Greg made this memorable comment, and while it seems counter-intuitive, if you’re an Essentialist you understand why. Success can become a catalyst for failure because success creates more options.
Too many options.
And then you face the risk of losing focus on what matters most (which likely is what delivered that great success.) Instead of pouring your energy into that one essential thing, you’re once again chasing too many options, and diluting your efforts.
The key then, is to stay focused on what matters most.
(You know I’m a fan of FOCUS!)
“How are you doing?”
Greg also talked about the “busy bubble” that exists in our society, and how it’s almost like a badge of honor to respond to that question with, “Doing good, really busy!”
As if somehow being busy makes you more important or successful.
The key is to stay out of the busy bubble, so that when it bursts (and it will, one day) you don’t look back on that time period with regrets.
But how do you actually answer the question, “How are you doing?”
Everyone’s talking about 2016. What are you going to do with the New Year? What are your goals…dreams…plans? And while I absolutely agree that we need to intentionally dream big and then act, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. 2015 isn’t even over yet, my friend, and you’ve got some things you need to reflect on for this year.
And this time, I don’t want you to think about all the things that didn’t happen as you’d hoped or planned. Instead, I want you to recognize and reflect on what went well.
Celebrate your year. Be proud of what you did. Enjoy the wins, whether they were big or small!
I want to hear your “Best Of” list.
Take some time and think through the last year…the entire year. What are you proud of or excited about? Write it down (bonus points if you share it with your loved ones that are cheering you on!)
I couldn’t write this note to you without doing the homework myself, of course. Here’s my “Best Of” for 2015. It’s been quite a year!
As I prepared to write last week’s note to you about the importance of taking time for yourself, my mind snagged on a concept in my favorite book, Essentialism. It’s along the same vein of living a more successful, happy life. And I realized I had to share this with you, too. It’s perfect if you’re on a holiday break, but you’ve got to promise me you’ll work to incorporate this year-round. In addition to making time for yourself, you’ve also got to…
Make Time to PLAY
Before you laugh this off as a trivial, idealistic concept, you’ve got to understand what play really is, and why it’s actually very important.
What Is Play?
(VERB) 1. To engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
Or as Greg McKeown defines it, in Essentialism:
Kids are so good at playing. Last night we made gingerbread cookies. My kids had fun cutting out the cookies, frosting them, and dumping sprinkles on top, but the play for them came after I’d put the cookies in the oven.
You know how there’s always scrap pieces left over after when you’re making cutout cookies? My kiddos spent nearly an hour playing with those pieces. They mixed in different sprinkles, added more flour, rolled out, carved up and rolled out those scrap pieces again and again, until you’d hardly recognize them as gingerbread.
Play Must Be a Priority
In the book, McKeown lists three primary reasons that play is essential. The one I want you to remember, today, is this:
Before we dive head-first into Thanksgiving and all of the festivities that the coming weeks will hold, I’ve got a quick tip for you that could make this year’s holiday season your very best, ever.
This time of year is my ABSOLUTE favorite. It starts with the advent of pumpkin spice lattes in September (which I choose to recognize as a symbol that I can then get out my autumn décor) and it goes all the way through New Year’s Day. The crisp fall air…the brilliance of the autumn trees…the frost on an unexpected morning that momentarily makes the kids think it snowed…the gusty, gray and rainy days…the first snow and all subsequent snows (when you don’t have a commute you enjoy the snow a lot more!)….more reasons to get together with friends and family…a crackling fire (gas fireplaces count) and then there’s all of the sparkle and joy of the Christmas season.
There’s a short list of what I’m thankful for!
The dark side of that though is that it comes with a lot of “to-do’s.” Even starting in the fall…got to get out to the pumpkin patch, carve pumpkins, roast seeds, clean out the now-frozen garden…and it continues throughout the Christmas season…shopping, baking, wrapping…you know what I’m talking about!
If you’re also attempting to grow your business, whether it’s a full-time endeavor where you feel the weight of the responsibility on your shoulders on a daily basis, or whether it’s something you’re building on the side by carving out every precious moment you can to work on it….
It can be a recipe for disaster. How on earth do you fit it all in?
About two months ago, I wrote a post that I was pretty nervous about sharing. I prefer to be the encouraging, supportive, “you can do it!” coach rather than calling someone out for the reasons that what they’re aspiring to is never going to happen. I went with it though, because I knew it could be a catalyst to propel you forward into your dream.
It’s turned out to be hugely popular, perhaps one of my most popular ever. In it I highlight five common reasons that the dream you’re chasing is never going to become reality, and challenge you to overcome each one. But I continue to see the recurring trends, and it’s still paining me to see it. So I’m here today to offer you some more encouragement in one particular area. Odds are, you’re still struggling with this.
There’s a crippling trend that I’m seeing on an ever-increasing basis. It latches on to your ankles and slows you down…holds you back…sometimes even pulls you backward. It spins you around until you don’t know which way is up, you have no idea what you’re working so hard for, and then you finally start to ask yourself…what is the point of all this?
WHAT are you doing?
For lack of a better term, I call it the busy monster. And I can’t help but wonder if one of these days we’re all going to revert, by choice, to a lifestyle of decades past. Sitting on the front porch as you enjoy the sunset, actually stopping to talk with your neighbors when you’re out to get the (snail) mail.
But for now, it’s a battle facing each of us. Family, friends, work, quite possibly work plus a side business, church, kids, sports, sickness, exercise, media, social media…
How on earth are you supposed to manage it all?