by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC
While you’re working on your plans for 2009, make use of the creative juice available by putting yourself in a new space. Here’s an exercise to accomplish it:
On a fresh sheet of paper, make a list of everything you’d like to be, do and have during 2009. Include the huge (receive a Grammy nomination) as well as the trivial (buy a new red briefcase). Write fast without over-thinking. Don’t stop until you have at least 30 things; go for 50.
Do this exercise three times — once in your office, once in a public place with hubbub such as a coffee shop or hotel lobby, and a third time in a place of nature such as a hiking trail or beach.
Then combine your lists. Notice what turns up every time, and what came up only in a particular place.
Divide your be-do-have list into three roughly equal parts of “non-negotiables”, “really wants”, and “nice to haves”. The non-negotiables are those things that will make the coming year as worthwhile as possible.
Be careful not to over-commit. Some of your level 2 and 3 priorities will come to you anyway; being aware of them will help you achieve some of them with relatively little effort, so save your committed effort for the level 1 non-negotiables in your life.
In her book Focus: the Catalyst for Creativity (available for free if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter, here), Betsy Burroughs describes a practice she calls the “Focus Tour”. A few of her favorite alternative locations include shopping malls, museums, and public transit. My favorite among Betsy’s ideas is a one-day train trip from San Francisco to Yosemite. Work on the train, enjoy a three-hour walk in Yosemite, and arrive home in time for dinner. This one is on my be-do-have list for 2009.
What places put you in a new frame of mind? Where do you focus best? Please leave a comment here.