Once again, another year has gone by. So how are you feeling about 2009? A lot of people are very concerned. Don’t be one of them.
If you aren’t significantly better off than you were a year ago at this time… the markets aside… you can expect pretty much of the same thing in 2009. But this is only true if the things that you can control are still not under control. Is there hope? Yep! Better yet, there is fact. Here are two facts about which you need to know:
The first fact is that some things are simply out of your control; these are the things about which you can do nothing at all. The markets. The housing crunch. The sudden decline in the value of your 401k. You can’t control your customer’s perceived needs or their interest in your products or services. You can’t control the competition or market demand.
These things are like the weather. They are out of your control. You can only respond to them. It’s sunny. It’s raining. It’s cold. You may not like what you get, but it’s a clearly waste of time and energy if you try to change it. Don’t. Forget about these things. Respond, yes, but don’t raise your blood pressure trying to change them. You can’t.
The second fact is this: some things are within your control. Personal contacts and relationships. Marketing. Fixed and variable costs. Your reputation. Your level of service. Your intent and your actions. It’s in this realm – and in this realm only – that you can have a significant effect on the months ahead.
So focus on one thing: the things you can change.
How do you make a huge leap forward in 2009? You identify what you can do and what you can’t. Then, work with a singular intent to make significant change in a limited list of actions. You can do it. It’s easy.
Follow my simple model: On one sheet of paper, take three minutes to write down everything in your life that is giving you stress. It doesn’t matter whether it’s business, health, your faith or family. Write down anything that keeps you up at night. Write down anything that makes you angry. Write down categories like the stock market, or real estate that you own. Write down issues with the kids, a date that went bad, even the ugly old tile in your bathroom. Write it all down and get it on paper. Don’t worry about running out of time. You’ll get the most important things on paper early on in the process.
Now look at your list. Study it hard, then grab a big fat black Sharpie or blood-red pen and scratch a line through anything on that list over which you have little or no control. Smile when you do it. These are the things you won’t spend time worrying about any more.
Finally, grab a clean sheet of paper and copy down anything that is left from the original sheet. These are the things over which you have some real control. Prioritize them: Mark with an “A” the very few things that give you the greatest concern. Mark a “B” for the next, larger group, and “C” for the rest.
That’s it. Simply write, remove, then rate. Once you’ve done this easy exercise, you are ready to take on 2009. Throw away the first sheet; that was last year’s thinking. Now use all of that old, wasted energy and apply it to the things you can control – the things on your new list.
Need some help? Give me a call and I’ll be pleased to spend some time with you on the phone. If you’re reading this over the holiday, get out your calendar right now and mark off some time to do this exercise. Then check in with me when you’re done.
Your great new year is less about resolutions than it is about focus. Control what you can. Choose a few items and target your intention on them alone. You’ll find less stress and more productivity with each passing day. Oh, and you’ve got 365 of them.
The Concept Coach
May you have a wonderfully prosperous 2009.
(Update: Though he doesn’t update it terribly often, there’s solid gold all through Jeff’s blog.)