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Before you set those goals...

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

It's New Year's Day, 2023. Happy New Year, if you're reading in the moment! If not, look on this as a chance to pause and reflect back on how far you've come since - because we so often don't do that at all, do we?

I've noticed at the moment there's a goal-setting frenzy going on around me. Maybe around you, too? Everyone's in to the next year before the last has even had chance to leave the building.

And have you noticed - it's always there, that pressure to be on the next page. Planning your next quarter, deciding what big changes you're going to make this year, thinking about how you can get better, be more, do more.

Even when we're supposedly resting and recovering over a break like this one, how many of us actually rest - and how many are kidding ourselves we're resting - while really keeping half an eye on the future?

Do you really mentally take time out from your business, or projects - or did your break look suspiciously more like another to do list:

  • Rush around frantically before the holidays, getting all the 'essentials' done

  • Crash into Christmas with unfinished projects still whirring round your mind - but maybe deciding it's ok to defer them for a few days and plan to squeeze them in to Twixmas, somewhere

  • Spend time with family & friends and allow yourself to switch off a little for a day or two because - well, it's Christmas, this is what we do and it's kinda fun (when nobody's having a meltdown)

  • Start to feel a bit twitchy on Boxing Day and definitely feel the urge to tidy up some loose ends/do some planning by 27th

  • Breathe a sigh of relief as you steal an afternoon to yourself and actually get to sit down and get some headspace to THINK about the next year

  • Get super-excited by your new plans, start taking action immediately and diarise them to make sure you're ON IT and ready to smash January

  • Spend the next few days in a slightly tortured and agitated state because you can't wait to get cracking, but feel obliged to wait until everyone's back to work/school before you really launch in... or declare the holidays are done and get straight into work-mode before the clock has even gone near midnight on 31st.

That's a familiar picture for many entrepreneurs and leaders, right? We like to squeeze every last drop out of our time, especially if we see a little window where nothing much is happening and it feels like we can get a head start on our next big thing.

Getting excited about our plans lights us up. Doing something - being productive - feels good. We hate to think we might have wasted a day, missed a marketing opportunity or been out of the loop when everyone else has been in it.

It's that drive and spirit that feels like it keeps us going, and makes us the awesome achievers we are!

The trouble is, whilst this super-productive and excited energy feels great - and like a fundamental part of who we are - it makes it hard to ever really switch off and come back to ourselves and what we truly want, deep down.

And that can spell trouble.

It can mean we make decisions from a very filtered and limited perspective - the perspective of what already IS, and of the parameters we've been used to working within - rather than the limitless possibility and expansive thinking that some real downtime and a totally clean sheet can bring.

That can mean we feel tied and bound by existing projects that really no longer fit us like they once did. It can mean we end up expending time and energy, trying to solve problems that we'd be better leaving behind.

It can cut off the flow of intuitive, brilliant ideas that are right under our noses.

And it can mean we really lose touch with ourselves and what truly makes us happy outside of our projects - which is a recipe for simmering dissatisfaction and that niggling feeling that all is not really well, or right in our world.

As a recovered workaholic, believe me I know the drive to keep doing is immensely powerful - and we'll find any reason to kid ourselves we 'must' keep working, or thinking about work.

The truth is, we need time out.

Not just a token day or two where - let's face it - our brains are still busy with 'stuff', activities and people-pleasing.

Real time out.

The kind where you get so detached from work and 'the loop' that you can't even remember what day it is.

The kind where you realise you can't find your phone, because you've mentally switched off so well from the constant need to check and check in.

The kind where you actually allow yourself time to NOT think - and even to get a little bit... dare I say, bored.

Because boredom and the absence of any real demands on our focused attention... that's where the exciting stuff happens.

That's where your brain drops in to creative mode and starts getting curious. Exploring. Concocting new ideas. Building new thought processes, rather than wearing out the same old groove. Inviting in a little 'What if...' in a positive, daydreaming kind of way... rather than the usual disaster planning, overthinking panic mode.

It's where dreams - and truly aligned goals and projects - are built.

Can you honestly say you've allowed your brain to get bored and curious, this holiday?

If not, don't worry - but do plan yourself a little time out on a regular basis to allow those dreams to happen.

A regular mini-holiday, if you will.

One of my New Year's plans for 2023 is to block out a day a month JUST for me to get some quiet time - because I know it's so powerful - for perspective, for stress reduction, for my business. It's CEO time at its best.

I'll go hiking, take a spa day, go to the seaside - whatever I feel I need to promote relaxation and stir those creative juices.

I'm going to take the time for some creative writing every day (so you'll be seeing a lot more blogging from me - subscribe for more secrets of a happy, healthy mind!).

And I'll be factoring little breathers into my days every day as well.

Because it's those little moments of downtime that prevent us becoming overloaded, overstressed, overexcited by things that don't really fit - and so entrenched in overdrive in the first place.

Will you join me?

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