Monday, January 16, 2006

What have you done lately?

Happy New Year!

First and foremost, I hope you all had an awesome holiday and new years, celebrating life with friends and family and loved ones.... and maybe even a few strangers. Some of you lost loved ones last year, and didn't have them to celebrate with this Christmas. But, many of you remembered their spirits and maintained the holidays in the fashion they loved, and I know you felt their smiles there with you and celebrated just the same.

Next, I want to thank you for continuing to read -- and even solicit -- Ramblings. Last year was a slow year for me, but some of you continued to send kind, encouraging email. As a matter of fact, just the other day, while I was trying to decide what to write for this issue, I got a couple of emails :-). One said, "where's my 'blankety blank' Ramblings?" The other was a bit gentler; "Isn't it just about time for another fun issue of "Ramblings?" Well, let's see what we can do.

I usually start the year with an energetic reminder to set your goals and get ready to "accomplish stuff" in the upcoming year! Of course, we still need to do that, and maybe we'll get to it in a later Ramblings, but, this time I wanted to try something different. ( Incidentally, if you need a refresher on setting goals, just visit our archives at and look over the titles. )

Some of you are probably like me. I was sitting around near the end of December, looking over my goals list for 2005, wondering where the heck the year went and noticing how many goals I still had to check off! I said, "man... I've been busy ALLL year. I had to get more accomplished than this!" And I started to feel... kind of ineffectual -- like I had wasted a whole year.

Then I remembered that I'd paid a surprise visit to my friends in Mississippi last January -- and luckily, since hurricane Katrina went through there. That had been a huge goal for me: Connect with old friends in 2005. And I remembered taking a trip to Montreal in June; that had also been a goal: Visit someplace in 2005 I'd never been. Then I got out a piece of paper and wrote down a few other things I'd done, and the more I wrote the more I remembered. Some of the things were on my list and some of them weren't! I thought about the people I'd helped during the year to accomplish some of their own goals; I thought about the thank you's I got from people for small things I didn't even think deserved a thank you, but that it made a difference for them... that day, and I wrote them all down.

I noticed that there were some goals I had not completed, but that I had STARTED -- processes I had put in motion that hadn't had a chance to come full cycle yet -- and pretty soon, after I'd done all that, I was feeling pretty good! I had a page and half (big paper!!!) of things I had done, that I just plain forgot about, but when I put them down on paper -- and a few friends reminded me of some other stuff -- I had a whole different view.

So, I guess what I want to say here, is that planning your goals for the "next" run is a very important -- critical -- thing. But maybe even more important, is taking the time to REALIZE and appreciate what you DID accomplish. In our zeal to accomplish yet "something else", sometimes we don't pause to give ourselves credit for the work we've done, and that is a recipe for burn out. We can't always focus on what's left to be done; we need to focus on what we've already taken care of.

So what did you do last year? Did you make a start, take a step, get better at something? Did you help someone else accomplish a goal or task that was important to them? Did you give a smile to someone who needed one? pat someone on the back that wasn't expecting it? praise someone who doesn't normally get praise? Did you donate to a charity? help an old lady (or man) cross the street? Did you save someone's life? Did you allow someone to save yours? Did you take course, finish a degree, power clean your oven? (ha! I'm am bachelor; you know what a big deal it was for me to clean my OVEN? Okay... so it was self cleaning, but I STILL had to flip the switches and wipe it out later! )

Take out a notebook... and for the next couple of hours (or days), just jot down things as you think of them, that you accomplished in the past year, or things you set in motion (and didn't quit on, except for maybe smoking...) that will be carried into or completed in subsequent years. Then, after you make that list, take a few minutes and go over it, study it, and celebrate your productivity and success. What the heck ! Pat yourself on the back and have a chocolate ice cream cone :-). And then, when you're charged with the energy of what you accomplished last year, sit down and make out your "want to do list" for this year, and see if it doesn't look a whole lot LESS formidable.

Then we'll talk about some other good stuff next time.

As usual... thanks for e-listening. Next issue we'll tell you what we have planned for this year, and if you have something you'd like discussed, feel free to let me know.

Feel free to comment, and maybe we can get some dialogue going.

Have an awesome 2006!

"There are two ways of meeting difficulties. You alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them." -- Phyliss Bottome

Take care.