When I was writing Body of Work in 2013, I didn’t realize how much it would impact my point of view about the nature of work in general.
What I learned from that book is that while joy is a state available to us no matter what we are doing (or not doing!), true impact and contribution comes from being deliberate about what we are creating. The more conscious you are about what you create — and how that contribution is linked to what you define as important problems you care about solving (what I call your “roots,”) the better chance you have at not only building important things, but also enjoying yourself while doing it.
A funny thing happens though along the road to knowing what to create next — a cloud of emotions, feelings, doubts, concerns, or sometimes numbness occurs.
This is because at times like this moment in our history, we have just walked through incredible personal and collective gauntlets. In order to survive, we had to either fight, flee or numb. And that emotional residue often blocks the truth from coming through.
Here is how to open yourself to messages and ideas about what to create next:
Go into the cave
It is hard to be brilliant when you are exhausted. Tucking in early, taking naps, and reading enjoyable books while luxuriating in a hot bath are all good ways to release tension and get back in touch with your physical body and sensations. (For the adults in the room, there are other good things to do while trapped in quarantine with your partner — I will leave it to you to create your action plan for that strategy!).
Mindfulness or meditation practices are also excellent for your body.
Taking care of your physical body and releasing as much stress as possible is an important part of opening yourself up to new ideas and projects.
If you have been banging your head against the wall this year trying to get a project done or give shape to the next stage of your body of work, you probably just need a long nap.
Take inventory and update your ingredients list
While this year will go down as one of the most chaotic and contentious in history, you still did stuff! You got work done, you flexed, you pivoted, you made things happen despite incredible challenges.
Document your answers to these five questions
1. What things did I do this year?
2. What new skills or abilities did I learn from these new things?
3. What lessons did I gain from any spectacular failures or hard times?
4. What am I really proud of in 2020?
5. Which of these new things do I want to bring forward into my work in 2021?
Refresh your roots
Are there any new problems you are eager to solve?
Are there movements you are inspired by that you want to play a more active role in?
Are you tired of seeing the same old advice that you know is incomplete, when you have a better point of view?
Your roots will ignite your motivation for creating things in 2021.
Update your ideal partner list
Who would you be excited to work with next year?
What does your team need to look like in your business in order to create what you want to create?
Which partnerships are you ready to let go of?
Nothing gets done in isolation, so be deliberate about who you work with.
Send your regrets to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
There was a lot of stuff we should have or could have done in 2020.
For whatever reason, we didn’t do it.
Beating ourselves up over what we did not do is an exercise in futility.
Or as my friend and accountant Kyle Durand always says, “We can’t change decisions we made in the past, we can only focus on making better choices from today forward.”
Release the weight of your regrets. They don’t serve you, or anyone.
Ask yourself (then ask again): What do I really want?
What is a deep hunger you feel going into the new year?
(Do you long for more meaning? Are you sick of working by yourself and want a team? Are you exhausted from difficult clients and want to work with people who are actually fun?)
What are you determined to create this year?
(Is it your book? Finally launching your podcast? Making that documentary? Building that program?)
What impact do I want to make in the world?
(Who do you truly care about helping? What ideas do you want to share? What problems do you want to solve?)
Now is all we have
One thing that has become very clear to me this year is that life is not guaranteed. If we don’t build the things that are important to us now, if we keep putting off work we mean to do, and don’t spend time with those we care about, we may permanently lose that opportunity.
No matter what has happened, you always have access to a big red RESET button.
Take the time to rest, recover and reflect, then step up to the button and hit RESET.
The future starts today.