Planning Your Fresh Start: Step 5


Well folks, we’ve reached the end of our “Next Normal Fresh Start” journey together.  I’ve taken you as far as I can.  Now it’s up to you.

Whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not — we have much more control over how our days, weeks, months, and years unfold than we imagine.

It’s just that we get stuck in certain ways of thinking, and we don’t or can’t see the possibilities in front of us. We don’t even realize that our island is surrounded by dry land, not water.

So we continue to let outside circumstances and other people plan our time for us. Until we end up shouting “stop the world, I want to get off.”

We allow what’s urgent but unimportant — or worse, what’s neither urgent nor important — to take over every nook and cranny in our schedule. (If you don’t recognize those references to the Eisenhower Matrix, there are great explanations here and here).

But then a global pandemic comes along and maybe gives us a glimpse of how things could be different. Shows us what we didn’t know we were missing.

To make your Next Normal Fresh Start happen, you need to be deliberate about what you say “yes” to. You need to keep your nonnegotiables top of mind and enforce your bright-line rules.

Whenever you start to add things to your calendar or do things a certain way, you need to ask yourself:

Will this help me realize my “fresh start” future, or will it cause me to slide back into the patterns I want to leave behind?

Or maybe these even simpler questions:

Do I actually need to be doing this? Is it keeping me from doing something better?

If you want to hear an inspiring example of a life shaped by bright-line rules, I encourage you to fast-forward this video to ~34:48 and watch until ~38:49. Clayton Christensen was a Harvard Business School professor and sought-after business consultant; he developed the theory of “disruptive innovation.” He also was a deeply observant Mormon. In that short segment of this talk, he offers a personal example of how he handled the problem of “urgent” emergent initiatives conflicting with “important” intended strategy early in his career. Listen for his nonnegotiables and the associated bright-line rules. (His speech is a bit halting because he was recovering from an ischemic stroke.)

After listening to Dr. Christensen’s story, you may think, “I couldn’t do that. That would never work for me!” To which I can only respond, “Is that really true?”

Be brave, fellow travelers. Your next normal is waiting for you.


By Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz

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