My new rituals for 2015

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Did you develop a list of new year’s resolutions yesterday? Not me! I’m sticking with rituals for 2015.

Welcome to 2015. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that I’ve given up on the idea of new year’s resolutions. But I welcome rituals. Here, then, are three rituals I’m planning on embracing in 2015:

1) I’m resuming work on my next book. I was struck by the ‘flu on Dec. 6. For three days I had the tinniest, croakiest voice imaginable. This even made it difficult for me to update my voicemail message daily. I felt like a fraud trying to claim I was working that day. (And, in fact, I was a fraud, because I really couldn’t work.)  Then I had a deep, racking cough that persisted until Christmas day and awakened me at 2 am, nightly. As a result, I had to abandon my long held habit of devoting the first 30 minutes of every day to working on my book. I just didn’t have the energy.

Thank goodness I’m better now. That said, I’m not foolish enough to try to resume my 30-minute habit (ritual) immediately. I know I need to work back up to it. I may even start with as few as five minutes a day. It won’t take me long to get back to 30 minutes, even though the thought of it daunts me now. If you have a project that intimidates you, make a ritual of working on it first thing in the morning. Your willower is stronger then. Furthermore, eating frogs is a great way to begin your day. Such a diet will make you feel more energized and accomplished and this, in turn, will help you get even more done, and feel happier while doing it.

2) I’m developing more check lists. On a typical day, I accomplish a lot. Writing. Editing. Coaching. Meeting with clients. But some of the things I do regularly (invoicing, certain kinds of client meetings) are quite predictable and it has occurred to me that having a checklist for each of them will make me even more efficient. And if I create checklists, I won’t have to depend on my sometimes faulty memory. I can just pull out the list and ensure I do everything on it. Why should any of us waste our precious brainpower, when we can save it for issues that really require our attention? Think about your job. Is there anything you do that’s simple and repetitive? Write out the steps and put the list somewhere you can find it easily. Then use it.

3) I’m reducing my “to do” list. If you could see my typical to do list, you’d laugh. Not infrequently, it has as many as 23 items on it. A few of them are urgent tasks I really must accomplish that day. But the rest are rose-coloured-glasses items. I’d love to get them done but if I considered my schedule with anything resembling common sense, I’d realize I was hoping for the impossible. My new morning ritual is going to be to earmark the four things I intend to accomplish each day. Why four? Because I’ll be able to remember them! New research suggests that the human memory has a limit: our brains can remember no more than four items at once. I figure that if I can remember the four goals for the day, I’ll have a better chance of actually accomplishing them. Also, four is more reasonable than 23.

So, there you have it. Not resolutions, but rituals. I hope you can develop some rituals of your own that will help make 2015 a successful and fulfilling year for you, too.