Sunday, December 30, 2007

Are Your New Year's Resolutions Really Right For You?

The New Year is almost upon us and I keep thinking one of us might write an article about New Year's resolutions to put in the next email newsletter our clients receive. But nothing is coming to me. And in fact, the resolutions we both have in terms of our practice and our lives in general are kind of hard to specify.

Oh, there are a few... building on what we've already achieved, feeling more connected to a community, getting to see our friends and family more, continued health and prosperity, improved bottom line, ability to travel (without needing to do it all the time)... but in our hearts these seem more like ideas of what we'd like to see manifest in the coming year than resolutions. Resolutions being those goals you intend to make yourself do rather than receive.

Except for personal resolutions to eat more vegetables and spend less on eating out, to clean up the mess I make (I always have that one), and the various little things I always seem to settle on, resolutions this year seem few and far between.

Perhaps that's because some significant resolutions we've had in the past haven't worked out. While things we didn't think we wanted and didn't do anything to achieve came to us anyway and worked out far better than we expected.

Resolutions always revolve around how we're going to achieve the results we want, what we think we must browbeat ourselves into doing to get there. Manifestation is about asking for what you want and allowing. Often that means we do something—get a job, exercise more, plan dinners with more vegetables in them in advance, get the grocery shopping and advance prep done before you forget, and set a timer to actually make dinner happen before it's 8 o'clock, you're hungry and you remember that some cheap fast food treat is right around the corner. That's the resolutions part.

Or so we think. Sometimes what we think we ought to do isn't really right for us. And something we never expected leads to a better outcome. For example, in our practice we always assumed that we needed to meet with clients in person and build our client base locally. How else were we going to get the repeat business and referrals we think we need? We've worked on that over and over all year. Meanwhile, more than half the hits to our website come from people outside Santa Cruz from all over the world. Finally, we gave in to that emotionally -- what would happen if we did allow some of our work to come from out of town? And we found out.

Without changing a thing we started to get referrals and client calls from out of town. We started to do more phone sessions and they were fun, they were effective, and people have come again. Hmm. I, for one, never expected it.

Which leads me to the point of the article. It's one thing to make a wish (more sessions, for example) but to stick too tightly to how that should come about isn't necessarily good for anyone concerned. When we stuck to our old game plan we put a lot of effort into making things happen and tended to feel really bad when things didn't go the way we planned. I tend to feel bad about myself or about us-- why didn't we do xyz?, what could we do better next time? what did we do wrong? I haven't tended to think (in advance or after the fact) is this plan of action really right for us at the present time? Maybe that's what's been "wrong" all along.

I recently said "no" to a plan I had been thinking I would do for several months now in regards to Mama Love Perfume. Why? Well, I didn't know why at first but my first clue was that I just couldn't make myself do it. I was feeling awful about that (the first pitfall of inappropriate resolution-making) and finally asked Paul for help. He put his psychic cap on and said "if you go ahead with it, it could put you out of business!" Whoa! I didn't expect to hear that! Why?

"Well" he continued. "If you only do what you say you want to achieve are you going to be happy?" [I was planning to spend $1000 and loads of effort to get ready for a trade show in order to get a bunch of new stores -- my goal was to at least break even on show costs in order to have an "easier" time getting future and repeat sales.] My first thought was yes, I would be happy to break even, but then I stopped to do the math. No! I'd be devastated—that would be 5 stores or less. I could do that without spending money on a trade show. I added 5 stores last year without spending any money at all.

"What if the opposite happened?" he said. "What if you were inundated with more orders than you can imagine? Are you ready to deal with the consequences of that?" I wish I could have said yes. But unless I had enough money in hand to pay to have my perfumes custom formulated and have the orders filled for me, the answer is that I really don't know... I definitely couldn't do it right now, I couldn't do it by myself, and unless I guessed really well I don't know if I have enough profit built into my current pricing structure to pay for the help I'd need and pay myself as well. If I was very far off I'd be out of business immediately.

I see. The resolution I had been working with was inappropriate for me. At least right now. I still have more preliminary work to do before I can even consider the possibility. I changed my mind, decided to spend part of the money I had put aside on things that will help our businesses grow in the most healthy ways possible, and celebrated. Wahoo! I don't have to feel bad about not succeeding at brow beating myself into doing all the work that would have needed to be done for that anymore. Whew.

Is there a resolution you've been unsuccessful in making yourself do? Maybe there's another way to have what you need. Maybe you have it already if you only knew.

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