December 2009


The New Year’s Resolution – it is a time-honored tradition after all. The question immediately occurred to me, “How did all this get started?” So I looked it up. Googled it if you will (though I rarely use Google). I found this answer:

It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.

Wow, this whole New Year’s Resolution thing has been around a long time!

Several words stand out and catch my interest – reflection, resolution, and improvement. That’s what a great deal of my coaching sessions are about! Notice I left out the word mistake. I left it out because it has little or no place in the self-improvement paradigm. The minute most of us focus on what mistakes we made (or are currently making) all action or planning or change seems to come to a standstill. It becomes the elephant in the room, the all-consuming center of attention, and the good that we can do, the changes we wish to make seem insignificant next to the MISTAKE.

And why is it that it is always in caps? But it is.

When clients stop learning, introspecting, resolving and improving – chances are there is a mistake occupying the room. Their focus changes to one of shame, of self-flagellation, and their resolve quivers and begins to fold in on itself. As a coach, I scramble a bit. The house is on fire, folks, and all too often our focus turns to that dark corner where no good can come. I deeply believe, and try to convey in the best way possible, that mistakes are not the ultimate FUBAR with nothing to learn and everything to regret. Mistakes can and should be moments of clarity. They are the lessons each of us has to learn in our lives to become more than what we were.

So I will not be focusing on past MISTAKES this year. Instead I will be focusing on what I want to improve about myself. My resolutions are as follows:

  • I want to lose weight – one pound at a time
  • I want to be a better, more patient person and show love and support and commitment to all of my loved ones and especially to my daughters who deserve the absolute, level best that I can give to them.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

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Within moments of waking I found my thoughts focusing on Mercedes Lackey who, through one of her characters, described what could very well be her writing method (at any time she has – one book in planning, one book in process, and one book being edited).

Recently I’ve been reading Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he shares his ideas of what has worked for him in terms of successful writing. I caught myself thinking about this as I started on my self-assigned 2,000 words for the day (that’s how many Stephen King writes). I caught myself contemplating whether this was the magic pill. If I write like Stephen King says to write, I will be successful like him.

This last thought is a bad place to be. And not just for writers, but for anyone.

What works for one person, does not necessarily work for another. Stephen King goes on to mention a large desk that he had for many years, which occupied the room to the exclusion of other things and sat in the very middle. He writes of choosing a different desk, one that resides in a corner and is no longer presumptuous or overbearing.

I caught myself patting myself on the back for having a corner desk! How silly is that?

We yearn for the magic pill or the perfect trifectate of events or steps that will guide our way to success. We believe it is there, somewhere, and we spend far too many weeks, months, years and even decades in search of it. This creature of our own imagination – it does not exist!

I was at a Heartland Coach Alliance meeting yesterday (HCA) and as part of the end of year program we went around and each spoke for one minute about what we had learned that year as a coach. I couldn’t shake the memory of reading Stephen King’s book and his remark about ideas being fossils in the ground. “Opportunities are like that,” I said, “Opportunities are all around us, we just need to dig them up.”

I went on to share the thought, which elicited many nods of agreement, that we stand in our own way far too much of the time. We limit our success by standing in the way, waiting for the miracle. My job as a coach is to teach you to step out of your own way and teach you to allow yourself success. Part of this is accomplished by reminding you that there is no magic pill or perfect trifectate of events that you need to be waiting for.

Put yourself out there and strive towards your goals. Take others advice and try it out, but don’t accept it as gospel. Don’t assume they know what is best for YOU. Only you know that!

I woke up this morning with a pounding headache. My little Emily asked, “Mama, why do you have a headache?” I explained to her that I get headaches due to a number of causes…low humidity, stress, sleeping with too many pillows or with my head in the wrong position, and if I have too much chocolate or caffeine.

I couldn’t tell you what the reason was today. There was low humidity, but hubby got the humidifiers all pumping away this morning. I fell asleep with two pillows instead of one under my head and I’ve had more than my fair share of stress recently. So who knows?

In any case, I couldn’t bring myself to eat until the pain subsided to a manageable level (about 1/2 an hour ago) and I fixed bacon and eggs and sat down to eat breakfast while I continued to read Stephen King’s “On Writing.”

Something he said, or perhaps my emotional state, which is often threadbare when I am in pain, brought the tears to my eyes.

He wrote, “You must not come lightly to the blank page.”

As I write this, I feel the tears and emotion gathering again. I know my brain is still hurting, and that makes me vulnerable, but I think that the words too are incredibly powerful. The concept of “not coming lightly” to your life or your life’s work strikes a chord deep inside.

In “Handed My Own Life” Annie Dillard writes that we “do what we do out of our private passion for the thing itself” which, to me, says much the same thing as King is relaying.

Approach your dreams with focus and intensity and dedication. This is not a test run, it is not a “gee, I guess I’ll try it”…this is your life!

What is it that you want from your life?

What is it that you want more than anything?

Close your eyes. Visualize it. Imagine yourself in the future you so desperately want.

You must not come lightly to that future.