2016

ONE SHOT DEAL

It's the close of 2015, and I'm conscious of endings right now.

I'm now 50, and could if I wished see my life in two halves, each lasting a quarter century. 

The first of those ended with the death of my brother Nigel. 

That was about as ugly an exit from life as you can imagine,  and typical of many young men - he was in his early 20s, a couple of years younger than me - that a car was involved in what happened.

The effects of Nigel's death were many and varied, for me and for our parents. And one realisation for me was that I had no intention of spending my working life in the world of advertising, which is what I was doing at an ad agency in London at that point. About three months after he was killed, the agency I worked for made a third of its staff redundant. I was the only one to leave with a smile on my face.

That smile is there still, though it's been by no means a fixed feature in the second half of my story to date. That should maybe be stories, since one impact of my brother's death was that I decided to have a good go at writing things that I was passionate about, and not whatever an agency account handler needed doing that week.

Fortunately, it's all working out pretty well. I can't go into the details at this point, but I have every reason to believe that my commitment to writing has taken off in a very interesting way. Next year, I'll find out for sure, both about that big unnamed project, and another one that excites me and also represents a step forward for me as a scriptwriter.

And -

Two people I know and like a great deal are experiencing health problems at the moment. They're both exceptional women who have a knack for being themselves in situations where the majority of people settle for 'me too' and choose not to stand out.

There's every chance they'll both recover and be back on their feet in no time. (Behind me, from the stereo, the lyrics that accompanied my last sentence - 'Just close your eyes, I'll tell you when everything's fine'. Thank you Mastodon.)

And -

This is it.

We only get one shot at whatever it is we want to do.

And we're already however many years into that process, on a rock that's spinning through space, the inhabitants of which spend much of their time swapping pictures of kittens to make ourselves forget about just whatever is happening in Syria, and it's OK you can always watch the new Star Wars if kittens just aren't doing the job...

This. Is. It.

So, what are you going to do with the time you have? About the dreams that you talk about as the second bottle of wine is opened? About the opportunities you wish you'd pursued but have told yourself are long gone now? About the future you talk about with someone you love, aware even as you chat that the conversation is a placebo, and hoping you can get by with that...

2016 can be the latest in a series if you wish. There'll be some good bits, and some lousy ones, and much of it will wash past, one day indistinguishable from another.

It doesn't have to be like that.

On Saturday January 16, I'll be leading a workshop that's all about making 2016 the best it can be for you. It'll be a stretch for us all, myself included, but stretches are how you go beyond where you're comfortable and get into uncharted territory. We'll be looking at making things happen and creating new habits and what it means to act from that best part of yourself on an ongoing basis. We'll be in central Nottingham, and you can find the details by checking out this link

 

 

MAKE 2016 YOUR BEST YEAR YET

Why do we have weeks, and months, and years?

It's all down to the advantages of having a cyclic understanding of time. Once upon a whenever, we knew that the sun would be warmer at some points, and to prepare for the return of the cold when the nights began to get shorter.

We're not subject to the demands of agriculture in the same way now, but knowing that February will be back in due course and with it a work anniversary, or if it's the 12th that makes it a month since something special happened, gives us the opportunity to perceive two separate instances simultaneously, and compare them.

That comes into its own with New Year. We make a big deal of the fact that the calendar has changed, and use it as an opportunity to assess just how we are changing. So we congratulate ourselves on the victories we've achieved, and wonder just how we'll move forward with some of the things we said we'd do, but one way or another didn't get round to.

I've got no shortage of methods that I find helpful to make me more likely to do what I want, and find continual amusement in how I fail to make the most of those resources in some contexts. Weight is an issue for me, and I decided a while back that I wanted to lose a chunk of what I'm carrying. I somehow didn't get round to actually doing anything about that goal until I chanced on some coconut water in a supermarket at a price I liked. All of a sudden, I was fired up to get in shape. How come? Well, a previous diet was built around an abundance of cheap coconut water that I invested in, and every day for 3 months I had a smoothie made with the stuff, losing 35 pounds.

Now I have discount coconut water in my possession again - therefore I can lose weight. Sounds stupid when it's put like that, but so it goes. We all make similarly eccentric choices, and I now realise that I can use regular water instead of the coconut version, but for now I'm happy because I'm having smoothies once more and am feeling better for it already after about 10 days.

It's this kind of thing that can make it useful to work with a coach, who can help identify and work with some of the blind spots you have, as well as reminding you of those contexts in which you shine and where else they apply. And I'm fortunate in having experienced a one year coaching programme with Michael Breen, who worked with Paul McKenna some years back and was instrumental in the success of their training business, as he has been behind the scenes in corporate settings, and with some well-known people in the entertainment world.

Getting more of what you want, and dealing with what you actually get, calls for the ability to outwit some of our own habits of thought and behaviour. Often, the key to approaching life differently comes down to some very straightforward basics. Like, using a voice within your own head that coaxes and convinces you, rather than berates and bullies. Like, using language in the way you record your goals and tasks that engages you to perform to a high standard, and not just offer the bare minimum. Like, realising what values drive your choices, and how to engage with them more fully and consistently.

2015 has seen me step up to a whole new level in the nature and scale of the creative work I do, and 2016 is about beginning to deliver the incredible potential of a deal that I couldn't have even conceived of a few years ago.

I don't know what it is that matters to you. I do know that on Saturday Jan 16 in Nottingham, you can join me and a group of other people in spending a day exploring ways in which we can make 2016 our best year yet. Join us, please.