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Thrive in Five: do less in 2020

9 MinutesIn Thrive in Five

Thanks for making a few minutes to read this and reflect. I wanted to share the idea that 2020 could be a year about doing “less” rather than more.

We are getting to the end of a decade, one that I thought would go very differently for me personally. In 2010, Jonathan and the boys and I made our big move to Colorado. Gone was the corporate life of London and in its place, leading an amazing team of people running Firefly Autism, a not-for-profit school. With Jonathan’s sudden death, we then swapped Colorado for Cheshire, albeit I am in London most weeks.

Three years ago, I created Thrive and I now work with inspiring, ambitious, very human clients every day, consulting and coaching. It has been quite the decade, and not the one I was expecting. But, for the first time since I lost Jonathan seven years ago, I am positively anticipating the coming new year and making plans for it…

It seems that whichever sector I work in, leaders are feeling that there isn’t enough time to do the things they want to do, that there is too much coming at them. Knowing our values, our purpose, being intentional about what matters, in a world in which everything matters, has never seemed so vital.

As we take a few minutes to think about the end of this year and the beginning of next, bringing a new decade, this month’s Thrive in Five is all about doing – or not doing…

Do less
What do we want to do less of 2020-2030? If we take a moment now to write down a few things that we want to do less of, statistically we will be more likely to do something about this, compared to keeping it in our head as an idea.

If we have been struggling to “stop” something, how about trying to do less instead? Not meaning to dishearten those who do Dry January, but there is research to suggest that “Damp” January has longer term health benefits – that we can sustain doing less of something rather than stopping altogether. For those who enjoy a book reference, “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown is my go to for this stuff. He talks about “minimum viable progress”: what is the smallest thing that will move us forward?

Done, however small, is better than not done at all. Drinking five times a week is still better for your health than seven….

Don’t do
What three things don’t we want to do this decade? How can we make sure we don’t do them?

Daring to say no generally feels empowering. It requires clarity about what is important of course, in order to say no to the things that aren’t important. I have some great values cards I use with clients, but this online values exercise might do the trick.

I enjoy the idea of saying no “gracefully” – separating the decision from the relationship. For example: “I would like to do something to show my commitment to this project – what is the most helpful/critical thing I could do”.

If you are someone who frequently feels over committed, it can be about working on saying a “slow yes” and a “quick no”.

Do more:
What are those things that are perennial commitments to ourselves that aren’t happening? Why is that?

Can we piggy back off things we are already doing – for example, if we want to check in with team members more regularly, can we do this around meetings already in the diary, around our habitual coffee breaks?

Why haven’t we been doing it? For the classic “I want to read more”, people often don’t have books, or don’t have them to hand – which makes reading quite hard! Identify a list of 10 books and buy two of them (audio/ebook or paper) and identify when we are most likely to be able to make 15 minutes to read.

Have we been specific about how we will do the thing? For example, if we want to improve your industry profile, identify the medium we are going to focus on and one that plays to your strengths. Is it speaking, and therefore identifying conferences, membership groups and breakfast/evening talks. Is it writing, and therefore in house newsletters, social media, external press. Is it “taking a view”, which means commenting on others and again, social media and blogs. It might be a combination. But the key is work out exactly what we mean by “improving my profile”.

Sometimes I have worked with people on something that they feel they have wanted for a long time. Yet, on taking action, they discover that they don’t actually care that much about it – but at least they then stop beating themselves up about not doing it!

Just do it
What can we do in five minutes? Progress not perfection is the key….This may or may not be my most brilliant mail out today, but I know that the longer I leave it, the longer I will leave it….Take 15 minutes to plan how and when to do the thing in detail. Use others to prompt or encourage. Send your commitment to me and I can hold you to account….find a way to start….

Do well
Create a list of the things that give us”immediate energy” and those that give us “delayed energy”.

Managing our energy is more vital than managing our time in a world in which there is never going to be enough time to do “everything”. Sometimes, we cannot do things well because we just don’t have the energy. If we can be specific and explicit with ourselves about the people, places and things that boost our energy, we can be more intentional, rather than a slave to the 3pm slump….

My immediate energy list includes places, people to speak to or text, making a cup of tea, a particular playlist for energy boosts, reading pages from certain books, certain websites, etc. I can do them in the moment, for an immediate return. My delayed list includes getting tickets for live music gigs, getting tickets to live sports or the theatre, sending someone a book, planning long walks, running, etc. [clearly written pre COVID19 – having a bath has moved way up the list in the last four weeks…]

The trick here is to be explicit about the things that give us energy and to constantly update the lists. Having a ‘go to’ list of personal energy boosters is a powerful self-help tool.
I do hope that some of this email has connected with you today, send any thoughts about it my way.Here is to a weekend that is all you want it to be.


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