The end of a decade is here, and I've been reflecting on meaningful moments from this year and some not so useful moments.
It’s happened again. Somehow, we’re almost done living another year and about to welcome a brand new one! I asked a coaching group I facilitate, “What are a couple of meaningful moments from 2019 that stayed with you?” And one participant said, “Wow, it just occurred to me that it’s really the end of a decade.”
So since then, I’ve been asking friends and clients to reflect on the last decade. When you pull out and look back at the last ten years, what were the biggest things that happened to you, or happened for you? What are your big accomplishments and what are some mistakes you made? When we think in big chunks like that, some messy things we might be currently in the middle of right now may be put into perspective.
My children and I ten years ago. (Photo by Chong Oh)
Overbooking vs Making Space
In my November Notes, I talked about the idea of “making room for the abundance in your life.” As I look forward to the new year, I’ve been trying to do this by cleaning out physical living and working space. I've also been making room in my head by focusing on work I love and excel at, and clearing out my calendar to spend more time with my loved ones. A friend re-phrased it brilliantly, “making space for the good stuff!” I love this idea, and that’s how I hope to continue to live in 2020 and beyond.
But I recently heard astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Tim Ferris Show say something wildly different, and wanted to share that with you. As a famous, successful celebrity scientist, deGrasse Tyson is offered far more interesting projects and opportunities than he is able to work on. He says "no" to most things, but even then, he is always unable to execute about 10 percent of what he initially signed up for.
He said what gets dropped had nothing to do with how interesting or important it was, or any other criteria. Instead of feeling ashamed and beating himself up over it, he thinks of this overflow as a natural consequence of maximizing his most valuable resources, his time and brainpower.
"So it's like airline overbooking, if you will...You don't overbook so much that there's a mutiny or that people want to overthrow you—but there's just enough so that circumstances will have whatever is the 100 percent of what I produce, get made. The other 10 percent doesn't get made. It's that simple and so basically I default on about 10 percent of the projects that I agree to in advance and that means the time is always completely full, always." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Honestly, it sounds like the worst way to live (my stomach would be permanently sick!), but I was amused by the confident way he aims to maximize the time and brainpower available to him. I also love the idea of comparing the number of hours available to me each day to the number of seats on a flight, which is non-negotiable. My go-to place when I "overbook" myself is trying to "make" more time by not sleeping or exercising and feeling stupid for not knowing my limits. It feels much healthier to admit that there are only 24 hours in a day. (I would just try not to overbook every flight!) So if you ever plan a project with deGrasse Tyson and you end up in the overbooked pile, don’t say I didn’t tell you. Ha!
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Whether you intend to overbook yourself (not me!) or make space for the good stuff in the new year, this is a great time of the year to spend some “balcony time” to reflect, recognize patterns and look at the bigger picture. Here's a list of questions you could start with. Grab a notebook and start reflecting on your answers.
What worked for you last year? Professionally? Personally?
What did not work well last year?
What are you proud of?
What was hard for you?
What did you learn last year?
Who were the people, and what were the opportunities and events that gave you the most return on your time and effort? That could be money, joy, new opportunities or energy.
Who were the most depleting people? Depleting, unproductive opportunities or events that did not serve you?
What are you excited about?
What's important to you?
What do you want more of?
What do you want less of?
What scares you?
What do you no longer tolerate?
What do you want to start?
What do you want to stop?
What's holding you back?
What do you want to learn?
What talent and skill are you not using?
What's the survival strategy that you specialize in that you no longer need?
Notice patterns and themes from your answers. Then take some action. That may include the following steps.
Develop your goals for next year.
Schedule time to check in on your progress.
Write in your journal.
Make a list of people, services and resources that can help you. Schedule time with those people, and sign up for those services.
Create plans and timelines.
If you are interested in going deeper with your 2020 planning, consider reading this piece I wrote on how I think about making and keeping track of New Year’s Resolutions.
Revisiting (or creating) New Year's Resolutions in February. (Photo by @kaboompics)
I can’t wait to hear what everyone is dreaming of for 2020. Wishing you all the kind of holiday (peaceful, fun, exciting, quiet...) you want and need. See you in 2020!
So... something super embarrassing happened last month and I’m issuing my first official correction.
Last month's November notes incorrectly stated that John Lewis was deceased and a Congressman. John Lewis is the Representative of Georgia's 5th congressional district and is very much alive.
I'm sincerely sorry for this mistake. Two favors I want to ask of you. Please don’t tell Congressman Lewis that I am telling folks he died! And if you are forwarding my November Notes, please use this new link and not the email itself, which I cannot change.