Do ever hear something that you just have to repeat? I try to stay away from gossip (always gets me in trouble), but this morning I got an email from a good friend, sharing some classic work gossip-and-gripe, and it was too good to keep to myself. Because, buried in the gripe was some deep truth. The story goes like this:

One of my secret agents was attending a meeting for a work project that was having some issues, and the boss in charge was chiding the group for not coming up with more and better solutions to the problems they were having. After the meeting was over, the boss “helpfully” sent the group an email encouraging them to be more solution oriented. She ended with this quote:

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” -Nelson Mandela

My agent’s kiss-her-on-the-mouth-pitch-perfect response (that she, of course, did not share with the boss)?

“I would have preferred ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,’ but sure, we can go ahead and use a quote about APARTHEID to encourage people to finish a [work project redacted to protect the glorious person’s identity].”

I’m not sharing this story because I want to hate on faux-inspirational managerial techniques per se (though, let’s), but because it reminded me that sometimes we in the motivational world can get a little carried away with them and miss the point. And then, make things worse. (Not to mention border on the offensive, depending on the context.)

Sometimes, quotes like this can become so overused and empty so as to actually repel the effect they are attempting to inspire.

January can be a lot like that for me, actually.

I know, I know. I’m a life coach. January is supposed to be my Christmas. I’m supposed to be offering “better! and more!” solutions with an almost predatory intensity this time of year. They’ll revoke my certification if they hear me saying this!

(And don’t worry, I’m doing plenty of that–just next week I’m giving a talk at a happy hour for PR and marketing professionals about how to do what you’ve been putting off by creating some accountability systems that actually work. None of that buy yourself a single piece of dark chocolate as a reward nonsense.)

However. I’m not about to chirpily tell you that we’re already more than halfway through the first month of the year and how the heck are all your big plans going, because if you haven’t started by now, you’re totally screwed and you’d better get crackin’.

Maybe you are one of those people who started your year off the “right” way:

January 1st rolled in and found you eagerly greeting it, at the crack of dawn, resolutions in hand, along with your buttered coffee/ green smoothie/ perfectly harmonized breakfast of protein,vegetables, and complex carbs and your sense of inevitable success–and you’ve been happily humming along your to-do list ever since.

In which case, what are you doing reading this email?!

Go back to kicking ass and taking names, you superstar freak.

Orrrrr maybe you’re more like the rest of us:

You blinked and it’s the middle of January. You’re just now getting around to recovering from the holidays. You’ve probably still got the remnants of whatever cold or flu caught up to you when you finally slowed down at the end of December. There might be a stack of still unsent holiday cards on your desk.

In other words, you are wondering how you managed to get a month behind in just one day a couple weeks ago.

Take me, for example. This was my first week back at home, after a month of intense traveling. I had every intention of embracing the new year, kickstarting my goals, and going to the gym. I developed some interesting new habits instead:

1) Dessert every night (for the curious: ice cream sundaes, apple pie with coconut caramel, chocolate covered almonds). Hm. Not the sugar break I had planned.

2) Catching up on all the TV that had built up while I was gone (guys, there was a Jonny Lee Miller shaped hole in my heart and now it’s filled again). Hm. Not the TV break I had planned.

3) Sleeping about ten hours a night, not to mention sleeping in until 8 every day (and, dreaming all the weird dreams I somehow missed while I was traveling). Hm not the embrace the mornings at 6:30 I had planned.

At first, I was pretty bummed with myself.

“Lauren, you’re a life coach. You help people make the most of your time. What are you doing?? Remember that wall-o-plans you got over there?? Are Friends re-runs and sundaes and sleeping in on the wall-o-plans?”

But then, a weird thing happened. Four (count em!) new, exciting opportunities came my way–two new big-potential client engagements, and two speaking opportunities. Hmmmm. Let’s check the wall. Bigger client engagements and speaking more to groups are both on it!

And then this morning, sudden inspiration to write you this note. Also on the wall-o-plans (under “keep better in touch with your awesome people, Lauren”).

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, instead of giving into the January madness (“all the resolutions! be more and better!”) maybe just give into yourself.

Notice what you need (dessert? rest? sunshine? walks? email threads that make you laugh?) and go there. Buck the trends, and go for decadence and indulgence this January.

Give yourself permission to ease into the year.

You might be surprised at what sneaks up on your done list when you take this approach. And how much easier it is to do it.

As far as I’m concerned, 2015 doesn’t start til mid-February anyways. (If the powers that be wanted me to be uber-productive this time of year, they wouldn’t have made the weather so conducive to napping.)

And you have my permission, the next time someone tells you to soar like an eagle on the wings of a unicorn into the rainbow of your dreams, to respond by shrugging, “not right now, thanks.” For the full effect, make sure your mouth is full of snacks while you say it. Especially if I am the one who happens to be exhorting you.

Alternatively, you could break into a rousing rendition of The Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” complete with interpretative dance.

Whatever floats your boat.

I’d love to hear more about what you’re sinking into this January. If you are soaring like an eagle, you can tell me about that, too, I promise to get so jealous it makes you feel even more accomplished.

And, if you need any help with your big or small plans for the year, I am setting up my next round of clients right now. You can book your free call with me here.


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