Choose Simple, Go Deep

I read this suggestion the other day. It made my skin crawl.

Write down 10 things you would like to do differently in 2016, the offender suggests. Write each on a separate piece of paper. Toss the pieces of paper into a glass bowl. At the end of the year, retrieve the glass bowl, pull out your papers and see how you did.

10? Are you kidding me?

Make 2016 the year in which STOP doing more, more, more. More, more just begets more busy, more depletion.

Instead of more, choose simple. Go deep.

I like the notion of new directions. New Year’s week is a fine time to envision something new. Here’s how we keep it simple:

Do a one-off.  One new goal that will help you get closer to a dream you have. One new action you are willing to turn into a habit. A habit that will create a more expansive, more readily maneuvered life for you. One. That’s enough.

This is the one-off part. Thank you to my friend Dr. Steve Broe, leadership coach, for reminding me of the importance of knowing what to STOP doing. As you commit to adding an activity, let go of something else you no longer wish to do. More than one activity may spring to mind. Good. Now keep it simple. 1 add, 1 remove. 1, not 10. That’s how we create forward momentum instead of “I wanna give up.”

I have a bonus un-activity for your consideration. I suggest it in the spirit of “less is more:” Experiment with unobligating yourself.

We complain that we don’t have enough time for all the things we wish to do. Truth is, we don’t. At work, in life, we don’t. The moment we have a slither of unobligated time, we obligate it away. Often with activities we enjoy. Cool. Still obligated time.

Unobligated time is radical. Half a day. A Saturday morning perhaps. Longer if you wish. No plans. Imagine. You wake up. You may go for a run, you may not. You may drink a cup of coffee, you may not. You may read a book, you may not. You will eat not because it’s time to eat but because you’re hungry. You may get in your car and drive nowhere in particular.

You get to listen to yourself. You get to choose.

It sounds improbable, I know. You have a family. Your children need you. Your spouse craves quality time with you. You have friends who miss you.

Guess what. The folks you feel obligated to will be just fine, and you get to hear yourself. When you hear yourself, you bring more of YOU to every single encounter you have. At work, at home. Every interaction will be fueled by the gifts of your unobligated time.

Pretty irresistible, don’t you think?

Think 1, not 10. Keep it simple. Welcome to 2016.

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Achim Nowak is an author, speaker, C-Suite coach, international authority on personal presence. His book "The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World" (New Page Books) has just been published. His previous books have become prized resources for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe. Achim and his work have been featured on 60 Minutes, Fox News, NPR, in The New York Times and The Miami Herald.