2018 can be a new year, or it can be a new kind of year.

In part, it will be shaped by patterns and rhythms of the past.

It will also be shaped by events outside of our control, some of which will be good and some will be bad.

And a great deal of it will be shaped by our preferences and choices – more than we know.

Okay, midnight on the 31st December is an artificial line drawn into time by humans but why not make it count for something bigger than simply turning over a new leaf?

365 days of exploring your curiosity inventiveness and artistry?  Come the 31 December 2018, you’ll be in quite a different place.  Not bad for new.

Habits of imagination

‘You can decide you want some new habits.’*
(Seth Godin)

If new possibilities come your way, it’s likely you’ll need some new habits.

Habits create spaces for us to be imaginative and innovative and creative in.  Who thought that getting up earlier or finding some space to be alone or turning some pages of a book each day or just getting out of the usual space (the list is endless)?  Yet it’s in these very places the future forms.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: New habits.)


‘Profluence, in brief, is about flow.  It means movement, tension, propulsion, unexpected twists, and resolution.  All good stories whether narrative or documentary, are profluent because they create an experience of starting somewhere, and by the end of the story we arrive somewhere else.  We are moved.  Profluence is the narrative connective tissue that transforms moments into scenes, scenes into stories, and stories into connections.’*
(Anthony Weeks)

RecogniseD or not, each of us lives our life within a story.

We can continue in this story or we can change it for another.  Story is powerful, a way of understanding ourselves and the world around us.  The most powerful stories are transcendent – this is really that – and therefore transformative.  As Kosuke Koyama encourages us to see:

‘Beauty is beautiful when it makes non-beautiful beautiful.  Rich is rich when it makes poor rich.’**

Story moves us from functional life to artistic life.

(*Anthony Weeks, from Drawn Together by Visual Practice.)
(**From Kosuke Koyama’s Three Mile an Hour God.)

The speed of desire

‘The wanderer becomes one with himself or herself and the universe.  We connect with the energy of all living things.  We live according to our inner nature.’*
(Keri Smith)

A few things about desire.

There’s a desire for building a safe place to be – a hygge place – and there’s a desire to reach out and explore.  We need both.

There is good desire and there’s bad desire but we cannot live without desire.

A bad desire can become a prison for our heart, whilst a good desire can be the expression of our heart with benefits for others.

Bad desires aren’t helped by the fact that the speed of desire, from wanting to getting, has increased in ways we couldn’t imagine twenty years ago.

Slowing down helps a lot to notice our greatest desires, the ones that will define our lives.

(*From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)


It’s not over yet

“I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down”

Long before Tubthumping sang their lyrics over and over again, Theodore Roosevelt was encouraging us to keep getting up:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Every story has a beginning and an end.  In between, there’s the middle bit – providing us opportunities to write some different possibilities.

2018 is a whole year of such possibilities.




Mind your own business

So that was 2017.  How has it prepared you for 2018?

Because it will have, whether you know it or not.

Life involves a lot of discovering that we have more to give than we often imagine.  The difficult pat is bringing it out.

There comes a natural end to this none of us will escape.  No-one wants to arrive at this point and for it to be said, “They could have given more.”

Yet for a thousand and one different reasons, we hold back.  But take who we are further and not only will 2018 be quite an adventure but 2019 will be even more so.

It’s like being in business, the business of being the best we can be.  (There’s a natural connection between life and business.)

Seth Godin reminds us that the best businesses exist for others just like people:

‘Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.

Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth.

It might take more effort than you were hoping it would, but it’s worth it.’*

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Kindness scales.)

Make it so

‘Be ready when you get there.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting for good things to happen – make good things happen.’*
(Erwin McManus)

Rather than who, make it you.

Rather than when, make it now.

(*From Erwin McManus’ The Last Arrow.)

Lost in space

‘Read, look into other areas, use different learning mediums, ask better questions, reflect, be open to ideas, be surrounded by learners, and prioritise learning.’*
(Michael Heppell)

‘I know perfectly well my own egotism,
And know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.’**
(Walt Whitman)

As 2017 comes to a close, Maria Popova reflects upon what has been a turbulent year.  As a means of reflecting on this, Popova alights on the story of the 1977 NASA mission to send the spacecraft Voyager to take images of the outer limits of our solar system:

‘When I was growing up in Bulgaria, a great point of national pride — and we Bulgarians don’t have too many — was that an old Bulgarian folk song had sailed into space aboard the Voyager spacecraft, the 1977 mission NASA launched with the scientific objective of photographing the planets of the outer solar system, which furnished the very first portrait of our cosmic neighbourhood.  Human eyes had never before been laid on the arresting aquamarine of Uranus, on Neptune’s stunning deep-blue orb, on the splendid fury of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a storm more than threefold the size of our entire planet, raging for three hundred years, the very existence of which dwarfs every earthly trouble.’^

But there was another dimension to the mission, beyond the scientific inquiry:

‘But the Voyager also had another, more romantic mission.  Aboard it was the Golden Record — a time-capsule of the human spirit encrypted in binary code on a twelve-inch gold-plated copper disc, containing greetings in the fifty-four most populist human languages and one from the humpback whales, 117 images of life on Earth, and a representative selection of our planet’s sounds, from an erupting volcano to a kiss to Bach — and that Bulgarian folk song.’^

I feel that what Popova is describing here – her subtitle for which is illuminating: “Perspective to lift the blinders of our cultural moment” – is true for the mission we find each find ourselves on through space and time: inquiry and poetry.  ,These are the things that help us move forward in the best of ways rather than intoxicated with our own importance:

“In this way of working, you’e got to have a lot of humility.  You don’t have the answers.  You’re creating space for relationships to form and innovation to emerge, which is the responsibility of senior leadership.”^^

Peter Senge is quoting businesswoman Vivienne Cox here.  He later writes, in what is a critically important book for Earth, how we need:

‘to rediscover our capacity for awe at the marvel of the living world and our fellow travellers on Spaceship Earth, without which we are unlikely to discover our place in the larger natural order.’*^

Reality is, we are all voyagers, travelling through time and space, recording and learning from what we see, going beyond the useful to the poetic – the greater story, indeed, the greatest story we’re all included in.

(*From Michael Heppell’s The Edge.)
(**From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
(^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times.)
(^^Vivienne Cox, quote in Peter Senge’s The Necessary 
(*^From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)

Meaning what?

‘This or that, one or the other, it doesn’t matter.
A choice, but not a decision.
We have to make choices like this every single day.  What colour, among three colours which are just fine.  Which route, between two routes within a rounding error in time taken.  Which flight, which table, which person…

Choices don’t have to be decisions.’*
(Seth Godin)

‘Why try to recover someone else’s originality?’**
(Richard Sennett)

Some people make choices as if they are decisions but decisions are the critical things.  Decisions change the trajectory of our lives, taking us into the unfamiliar and random:

“What a man can be, he must be.”^

Choices are the things we make along this trajectory, more straightforward than we think.

When we’re on the right trajectory for our lives then the kind of choices we get to make become more interesting, but:

‘When we repeat the same activities day in and day out, we limit our ability to have new experiences.’^^

Time to decide:

‘Write down your Must.’*^

Do it.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Choosing without deciding.)
(**From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)
(^Abraham Maslow, quoted in Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)
(^^From Keri Smith’s The Wander Society.)
(*^From Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)


One of the most significant things we can do is to identify our talents and to describe them in new ways.

This is one element of the dreamwhispering journey I provide, focusing on the things abilities you have been developing, consciously or unconsciously throughout your life.  Choose this and a big decision may be following (buy this for £50 until the end of 2017 – have the conversation in 2018).



Who is worthy?

‘In a nutshell, in order to be happy, you need to accept yourself.
The epiphany here is that, paradoxically, accepting oneself as one is often involves releasing yourself, especially when there is an illusory self, which you hold to be desirable.’*
(Ken Mogi)

‘[T]he only way to keep making a difference is to keep giving.  Giving the best part of yourself, with or without the prospect of reward.’**
(Hugh Macleod)

Your worthiness cannot be given by another, only recognised.

Another stranger thing is that we can be more aware of our worthiness when we’re being exluded from something – something may then feel ourselves to be entitled to.  We seem less expressing our worthiness by beginning something new, when we make something happen.  Something that will recognise and include others – to give rather than get.  We need to believe we can this.

Edgar Schein writes about the kinds of question that help us move into things we have not seen or understood about ourselves:

‘Whereas the previous inquiry questions only steered clients through their own conceptual and emotional landscapes the confrontational question introduces new ideas, concepts, hypotheses, options, etc. that clients must now deal with.’^

We can be worthy generally but the artful question allows us to be worthy specifically, to know and name what it is that we have to bring.  Specific doesn’t happen quickly – it requires some slowness.  Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber describe slowness in this way:

‘Slowing down, in contrast, is about allowing room for others and otherness.  An in that sense, slowing down is an ethical choice.’^^

This is interesting because even in a fast world we still know that people and relationships are the most important part of life.  In a slower world, people can notice and grow their worthiness.  Slow time is about questions, having  time to find out more than we presently know, including about ourselves.  Slow listening is open and inquisitive about the whole person, the larger world and the universe of possibilities.

Joseph Campbell makes this intriguing point which can be related to specific worthiness:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.  Your own path you make with every step you take.  That’s why it’s your path.”*^

Add to this some remarks from Erwin McManus’ on indecisiveness and we may see that someone else’s path is exactly where we have found ourselves:

‘What I learned from twenty years of indecisiveness is that you will either define yourself or be defined by others. You will either choose your life or live a life that was never meant to be yours.”^*

Our lives are trying to get our attention so we might see our worthiness.  Of such attention as this, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes:

‘Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated.  We create ourselves by how we invest this energy.  Memories, thoughts, nd feelings are all shaped by how we use it.  And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.’⁺

When our energy is engaged in what matters to us then what we find we have is flow:

‘When we are in rhythm with our own nature, things flow an balance naturally.’⁺⁺

This natural flow can be broken up or disrupted by a number of things.  Csikszentmihalyi names pain, rage, anxiety, or jealousy, and I would add premature judgement and cynicism as great interruptors.

Why not slow down and notice where your attention goes when it’s given free rein providing you with the possibility of becoming acquainted with your worthiness.

(*From Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai.)
(**From gapingvoid’s Your time will come.)
(^From Edgar Schein’s Helping.)
(^^From Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber’s The Slow Professor.)
(*^Joseph Campbell, quoted in Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)
(^*From Erwin McManus’ The Last Arrow.)
(⁺From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(⁺⁺From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)