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Here’s The Best Advice You Will Get All Year

Travels-with-EpicurusStretching out  before us is the new year, winking optimism, opportunity, freshness and renewal. And to help you make this a great year, I am going to share some brilliant advice I have just received. It is a gem- and if you deliver on it, will make 2014 an outstanding year. Promise. Here it is.

I love the ‘fresh start’ that January brings. It lifts my spirits, and makes me feel ‘anything is possible.’ I plan accordingly! Sadly, history tells me that by about March, I will have sunk back into the depths of deadlines, ‘to do’ lists, pressure, and a string of broken promises with myself. I lose sight of what drives, inspires and gives me purpose. But not this year. No, no, no! You see- I read a piece of advice while on my break that I know will make this year a triumph of mindfulness and happiness. It can for you too. If you’re up for it. Here’s that gem.

“Take more time, cover less ground.”

So said Tomas Merton, quoted in Daniel Klein’s powerful philosophy on the best path to a happy and fulfilling life, “Travels With Epicurus.” Klein goes on to suggest another powerful habit, which I reckon dovetails perfectly with this theme:

“Be clear what gives you pleasure, and do more of it.”

So- this is what I plan to do. Want to join me? Some of you might feel this is a bit anal- but that’s me. If I don’t force myself to slow down- to pause and reflect- my life flashes past and I feel it becomes a missed opportunity. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up. And in 2014, I WILL take more time, and cover less ground, and cover that ground with more presence, and thoughtfulness. Here’s my two part plan:

1. Get clarity on what gives me pleasure

Seriously- are you clear on where you get the most pleasure from in your life? I am clearer today than I was two weeks ago, now that I have been really thinking about it. It shocked me. My pleasure comes from very simple things- being together with family having a meal somewhere new, walking with my Mother and holding her hand, the feeling after a solid run, learning something new, great conversations, doing something for others (eg last year, coaching an under 10s rugby team was incredibly rewarding- it’s hard to describe how something so basic gave me so much genuine, unmitigated pleasure), and so on. It’s a pretty short list, filled with stuff I simply don’t do enough of.

2. A weekly one hour ‘Fresh Air Session’ with myself

I am diarising now for the rest of the year, a one hour meeting with myself, at my Third Place (not work, not home, but somewhere else where I can relax and think). I will use that hour to revisit my clarity on three things:

a) what is most important to me in my life, and check whether I am giving those the right focus

b) revisit my ‘pleasure’ list … am I finding time to sprinkle my weeks with what I get the greatest buzz from

c) check in on what I need to STOP doing- what has crept in to my life that is not productive and needed, and how can I stop spending time and energy on that

Take more time, cover less ground. Be clear on what gives you pleasure, and do more of it.

I reckon- hand on heart- if we can do this well in 2014, it will be a very special year. Good luck with it. And I hope a weekly dose of Possums makes it to your ‘pleasure list.’ Much love to all and thanks for being back again with me this year.

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16 Responses to Here’s The Best Advice You Will Get All Year

  1. Marion McDonald January 29, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Thanks Chris for an inspiring message to start the Year of the Horse, in my case in Hong Kong. Kung hei fat choy! to all your readers celebrating CNY.

    Your post reminded me of the Diane Ackerman quote I keep posted by my desk at Ogilvy:
    “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the breadth of it as well.”

    Driving to somewhere new & hiking with our dogs gives me great pleasure. This weekend I’m combining these pleasures and signing up for carshare.hk to drive into new depths to hike the hills and waterfalls. Thanks for the reminder. Have a great year ahead!

    • Chris Savage January 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      Thanks Marion. And Kung Hei Fat Choy to you! Like the quote too. Thanks for that!

    • Margaret January 30, 2014 at 11:05 am #

      Kung hei fat choy to all as well. Certainly wish I was celebrating CNY in HK instead of Australia! May the Year of the Horse bring great health, wealth, love and fun for all!! ;)

  2. Jayne Albiston January 29, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Excellent excellent piece of advice. Ok – I am in! I will do this – and will let you know how I go.
    Very challenging!

  3. Chris Savage January 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Thanks Jayne! Good luck.

  4. Margaret January 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    Another great post thank you! I’m with you the planning; I’ve got a planning session coming up soon to put together an action plan on Love, Health, Wealth and Fun for the year. Any more categories than that is just too much.. although, I have to admit; I’m a chronic planner, not a chronic do-er. Too many goals, too much thinking, not enough action. Comes with my innate lazy nature, which fights with my ambitious nature day after day!! If you have any tips on how to overcome that I’d be forever grateful!

    When I reflect on the year 2013, I’ve definitely done more with a plan in place than not. So your plan is great. If weekly reflection gets too much, a fortnightly or monthly one might be the answer. I was thinking of a monthly one for myself…

    • Chris Savage January 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks Margaret. I reckon we’re all lazt at heart! Perhaps a monthly mtg is more practical than weekly. I’ll start weekly, but with flexibility…

  5. Lesley Edwards January 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks Chris, something I once heard that has stuck with me.

    We all have a diminishing assett TIME. None of us know how much of it we have left, but we all know tomorrow we’ll have less of it than we have today. How we choose to spend our greatest assett surely has to be the best indicator for what we value most in our lives. If you spend more of your most important assett (time) at work than anywhere else you must surely value that above all else!

    A bit full on… but also hard to argue.

    Lesley

    • Chris Savage January 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

      Thanks Lesley. Agree. My one poijt on the amount of time spent at work. i guess this is also part of delivering the income and security to those you love as well. I would love to spend even more time with my family, loved ones, friends etc…but also have to protect the cash flow that enables many of the good things in our lives- to fund the education, the travel, the opportunities. So I don’t worry too much about working hard and relatively long, so long as it is balanced. Just a thought.

  6. Craig January 29, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi Chris
    This is truly one of the best pieces of advice, and I think it contains a huge gem of wisdom.

    We rush and stress each year, achievements quickly fade, but i think contentment or discontent remains depending on that breadth or fullness of our presence during the journey!

    The trickiness will be keeping that weekly meeting with oneself as sacred, keeping it a “must” when so many other, often uncompromising, things demand one’s time and attention.

    I certinly intend to do this, but most of all, I hope it remains a solid one for you this year!!!

    Mega blessings
    :)c

  7. Anjali January 29, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Great piece and excellent advice! i have been thinking about this a lot since last year, and while i have got better at implenting some of your advice, its been a bit hit-and-miss. Having a clearly thought out plan that is also down on paper (if i dont write, i dont commit!) will certainly go a long way for this advice to become a habit. Also love how Margaret has an action plan for each of Love, Health, Wealth and Fun! Think I might do the same! :o) Thanks a million for sharing!

    • Margaret January 30, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      Go for it Anjali – it’s an excellent way to incorporate all the important elements of life..best of luck!

  8. Chris Savage January 29, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Thanks Craig- i am certainly going to give it a go! Chris

  9. Russ January 30, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Belter of a piece Chris!

    Great way to start the year! Look forward to the re-cap in March!

    Cheers Russ

  10. Margaret B February 4, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Lovely advice. In Canada January is a tricky month since the weather can totally derail the best intentions :) We’re on pace for a record-breaking cold winter too! The tendency is to hibernate and hunker down sometimes waiting for “When the weather improves” to change things.
    I ran outside this weekend for 16 km, the longest I had run outdoors since the marathon in November because it’s been so cold and icy this year; but after my run I felt so much better. Much more clarity of purpose! It was snowy and slippery, but I remembered how much I love it and why it’s important to me. I felt amazing and I had forgotten how good it feels to run outdoors for a long distance (I’ve done some 8ks outdoors but don’t give me the same feeling). The rest of the day, I didn’t get anything that was on my “to-do” list done. Instead, my husband had a rare Saturday off so when I got back from my run we had a cup of tea and listened to some music while we chatted, and assessed where we go from here with his career. It was so nice and so needed, even if the other “to-do” things didn’t get done. We’ll make a point of adopting your two part plan as we move ahead with this year! Thanks for the tips!

  11. Christiane Schull February 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Lovely.

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