New Year’s resolutions can motivate you to do what you know you should. A planner can inspire you to get organized. As most prompts, these are all good. But if 80% of people do not follow through on their New Year’s resolutions two weeks into the year, what does that tell you? Evidently, most people misunderstand what makes them more productive.

My big goals plan broken down into smaller steps is detailed on sheets on my office wall where I see them every day. No flipping through papers, and no wondering where I placed my planner.

And I embrace inaction religiously. I’ll be absolutely honest. It took heavy loss and a lot of stress to learn the art of planning action and inaction. This is why I advocate inaction, and here’s how to make it work wonders for you.

  1. Big picture

Picture the mouse in a maze. Standing above, you can see it trying again and again to move through the same place. The way forward would just be going back a little and then trying another path. Stop if it isn’t working. Take a step back to see that big picture. Give yourself the opportunity to notice what’s missing or how you can do things differently. In real life, the maze changes. Maybe a door will open where you least expect.

2. Clear plan

What are you working hard for? It was about four years ago I realized I was climbing the wrong ladder. Life is short. Are you climbing the ladder that matters to you? Get out of the rat race, if it feels like one, and take time to feel into your deepest longings. Take the time you need. Then apply laser sharp focus on who and where you really want to be.

3. Dream

Going for a bigger dream doesn’t necessarily mean you’re expending more energy. It’s often the other way around if you have that big picture bird’s eye view and clear plan. Start exercising your dreaming muscle. Literally take time out to daydream!

4. Focus on an object

Our minds are either in the past or the future, but rarely in the present. It is in the present where you create and get things done! A powerful exercise I’ve learned from one my mentors, Sonia Choquette, is to sit and focus my attention on an item — a pen, a tree, literally any object. And breathe. You quickly put yourself into a powerful, calm, creative state.

5. Sleep

The stick that broke the camel’s back for me before I was willing to learn was lack of sleep. Sleep has everything to do with productivity. In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington tells us that what she’s learned is that in today’s world the path of least resistance is the path of sleep, and if we’re going to truly thrive, we must begin with sleep.

6. Fool around

By the time lack of sleep took its toll, I had also cut play out of my life. Ask my kids and best friend — I wasn’t just “inefficient”, I was no fun. Doing a 180, I included tons of fooling around, laughing, games, mountain biking, hiking and skiing. The result — I got to spend way more time with my kids and bond. And this transformed me. This transformed the way I looked at life, my work and what really mattered. What I now create are big picture impacts.

7. Respect the seasons

Each phase has it’s purpose, just as the seasons do. If you’re in winter and either waiting for it to pass or pushing to get past it to summer, life will pass you by and you’ll eventually crash. And winter will come again. Work with your season, whether it feels joyous, like nothing’s happening or sad. The seasons have their purposes. Look for the purpose. Learn, be, love and breathe.

Inaction is the key for getting sh#t done! I teach, research, learn with mentors, mentor and coach, and do what any other mother does. And the results — awards, four books, a dozen journal/chapter publications, ability to teach, travel, give international talks or lectures, speeches to heads of state, founding of organizations, and my business inspiring others to greatness. The biggest result — is my kids. They’re cared for, all-rounders. I work hard. But the results are not so much a product of working hard. The results come from providing the nutrient-rich soil, water, air, and sun to all I nurture.

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