|I know it is TOO LATE to wish you a Happy Chinese New Year (HCNY)! I was waiting for the New Year Resolution craze to die down and Valentine’s to be OVER.
If you do not have clear resolutions, FEAR NOT. I’m letting you into a secret that will help you reclaim lost time, in fact it will help you “create space” for your planning / direction to emerge. On my LONG holiday, I spent time, connecting with my family and friends without a plan. Just absorbed whatever serendipity would bring my way. I would have not done this back in 2014. I am an obsessive planner. I plan everything! Not have a plan…? You need to have goals and plans to achieve anything in life – or you waste your life, right? If you would have asked me in 2006 (when I started my career), “Where do I see myself in 10 years time?” (as in the movie INTERN), I would have NEVER told you that I would have started my own business. Funny… Back then I thought that being self-employed was silly. For me it was synonymous to no security and no wealth. I had no intention to be self-employed. Full-stop. The New Year is a great time to PLAN your resolutions and goals for the next year and beyond. It is not accidental that this quote is a classic:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” by Eisenhower.
What is important about planning process is that you define the intention. You discover your direction. The destination may well be a better place than what you planned for!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin famously said.
Heard this before too. OK, I knew Ben agrees with Eisenhower. But I only recently understood what Ben really meant:
Planning requires preparation too!
My coach told me in 2013, only if you let something die, something new will be born (i.e. a change will happen). Wise words. A puzzle to me. I wanted it all and now! I wanted things to change without me needing to change anything. I was determined I was right (and that it will work). I was impatient and uncompromising. This led me to a much needed breakdown in 2014 – when I realised that my method (life philosophy) was not working. The path I was carving seemed great from the outside… but there was something wrong. The future I was creating was not mine.
Where have I lost myself? What was success?
Plus the scariest bit was that upon my resignation I did not have a Plan B (for an obsessive planner that was worse than hell)! It is not coincidental. There was something major in the way. This is where Ben’s and Coach’s wisdom comes in. I wanted to have a clear plan, a final goal without having done the pre-work. I was cutting corners (unknowingly). And even if I knew, I now know that the pre-work was extremely hard for two reasons – it needed: a) time and b) heart. You fail to give it either and you will end up where I was. And so, I had to carve a new identity for myself. Easy, right? How do you let go of your past when you do not have a well-shaped future waiting for you? I thought the “new change or direction” has to come first, in order to let go of the past. What I discovered was somewhat different, – a paradox to what I thought was a logical planning methodology. I must tell you, there was not going to be a royal way to re-architecting my life, redefining success and discovering myself. Lost as anyone else, I set out to experience exactly what my clients feel when they have no direction. I sought all the help I could get for myself (and eventually my clients).. And lead the way by facing my own fears and uncertainty of starting a business (Eudaimonia). But before all this, there was one thing I should have done. And I was not brave to do readily. Nor made time to do properly. I avoided it, procrastinated over it, ignored it. For all these 15 years in the UK, I moved from Halls of residence to Rooms, from Flats to Homes never having re-evaluated what I had, why and whether I would ever need it again. I carried a physical burden from one place to another, 11 times in total. And although I knew I had to get rid of stuff, the thought of having to make these decisions, was unbearable.
I am no genius, I needed support. Marie Kondo’s “The life changing magic of tidying”, is a step by step guide to getting rid of clutter that fills your space and takes away your peace and capability to think, plan and relax. What you fill your space with is a reflection of your inner space and how you lead your life. She does not only spill the beans on all the possible dilemmas you may have and how to overcome them but she goes on about how to organise and store what you have left (if confused, you can see her videos online or buy her new book “Spark Joy”).
Planning Preparation Step 1: get rid of Physical Clutter
I started using the book’s tidying method at home (first discard and then organise) and I was amazed by how many things I was holding onto that were not “me”. They belonged to my past (served me well) but had no place in my present or future. The items fulfilled their purpose (clothes, shoes, books, memorabilia etc) but I had to let them go. To make space (for the new). The process takes a) time, and b) the decision making process is very simple, but it requires honesty and courage: does the item you hold onto “spark joy”? If not, it is discarded. Once you go through this process end-to-end and you clear your space, you never go back to a “cluttered state”. So it is worth the investment. The feeling of lightness after a much needed clear out is truly satisfying. And this is just Step 1 of the Planning Preparation (getting rid of physical clutter). By simply doing this exercise with objects, my decision making skills have been honed and I feel more grounded as I had to fight my own emotions and attachment. One tip: keep others out of your decision making process (what to keep and what to organise), they will only cloud your judgement – this is not about them (nothing personal), it is about your inner calm.
Planning Preparation Step 2: get rid of Mental Clutter
Naturally, this preparation procedure for planning, does not limit itself to “things”. Step 2 involves, decluttering the mind/soul. In my case, I had to let go of my past (clutter): not deny it, erase it nor forget it. Just get rid of what does not serve me. It is about parting with immaterial “items” (thoughts, feelings, judgements, expectations, myths, assumptions, beliefs, ego, projects, habits) that carry meaning and memories. This “burden” holds us back from moving towards a desired direction. This weight is immense. We all carry it without even noticing. For these, you may need more specialised help than a book: consider (in no particular order) a coach, a hypnotherapist, an energy kinesiologist, a psychotherapist, depending on what you feel is toxic and needs to go from your life. Through this mental and physical decluttering, my VISION is slowly surfacing. 2016 means the end of the Windsor Business Mastermind (WBM) as we know it. I enjoy the WBM so much, but it does not align with my “calling”. A very hard decision for me, especially given the amazing energy and feedback I have received so far. But I know that the WBM has served its purpose and needs to be reborn as part of Eudaimonia. Thank you for being part of this journey, I feel truly privileged to have served you and I will continue to do so in new ways. So now you know what I did this holiday. I prepared for planning. Preparing to plan is not a nice-to-have. It is a necessary investment of time and heart. Preparing to plan is an essential part of planning. It gives you the time and space to reflect, and ultimately a fertile ground to create. It clears up the clouds from the horizon, for direction findingion finding.