Opportunity or Emptiness

Several years ago, my husband and I began an annual tradition of welcoming the new year by purging, shredding, scanning, throwing away, and donating stuff.

For me, less stuff opens up possibilities. Less stuff gives us the freedom to choose to go where we want, now or in the future. As I see it, getting rid of stuff opens up space to expand and more easily see and access the things that bring me joy and, in some cases, exchange the old for the new.

For others, stuff is what connects them to the past. They see a void rather than an opening without stuff tightly filling a space. They feel a loss to mourn or a fear of what the future might hold.

Opportunity or emptiness? Abundance or scarcity? These are questions to ask ourselves as we choose to lighten our collection of stuff (or not).

The Fresh Start Effect

Temporal landmarks inspire us to reflect on our lives in a big-picture way motivating us to set goals for better behavior. 

Researchers describe this phenomenon as the fresh-start effectAccording to the fresh-start effect, people are likelier to take action toward a goal after temporal landmarks. Psychologists studying the fresh-start effect show that it works because highlighting meaningful occasions creates a clean slate for people to make better decisions. 

This week is one of those important temporal landmarks. A new year, a new beginning, an opportunity to choose:

  • What matters to me? What am I willing to change or stop so that what matters to me gets my attention?
  • What important thing have I been neglecting? Health perhaps?
  • What actions am I willing to take to turn my resolutions into actions and my actions into habits that extend beyond Valentine’s Day?

It’s That Time Again…

For many, perhaps most of us, the end of a year is a time for reflection. Last week I posed some questions to consider while Sitting By The Fire

This week, as my last story of the year, let’s talk about resolutions. In business, we call it goal-setting, and in our personal lives, we call them “new year’s resolutions.”

Here’s how Webster’s defines each of these:

  • Resolution: to make a definite and serious decision to do something.
  • Goal: something that you are trying to do or achieve

Resolution sounds much more committed, but common lore is that most of us break our resolutions soon after making them. 

Why is that?

Here’s the process most follow for business goals:

  • we set goals for the period
  • we prioritize the goals and focus on the most important
  • we identify the steps we, and our team, need to take 
  • we identify the dependencies that exist and order the process accordingly
  • we establish monitoring systems and milestones so we know how we are progressing toward the goal

In short, for business goals, we have a process, and for those who follow the process, results follow.

In my experience working with business leaders, some follow a similar process for personal goals, and many do not.

For some, a health scare reminds us that life is short and our families depend on us, which leads to getting serious about health and fitness goals, for example.

While most of us require a catalyst to inspire change, I wonder what other, perhaps less severe, motivation we can each find to inspire personal goals or resolutions that are definite and serious and treat them with the same level of importance as our business goals?

Perhaps this is the first resolution to consider for the new year.

Happy Holidays. Thank you for honoring me by reading my Sunday Stories each week. See you in the new year. 


Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. A time for us to let go of our differences, support one another, and find gratitude. For me, it is a time to pause, consider the gifts that life has given me and ask myself how and where I can pay them forward.   

The current inflationary environment is unequal in ways that will have a lasting effect. Household staples are the biggest inflation contributors and have the most unequal impact. Here’s the inflation breakdown for October from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

As Thanks-Giving approaches, its time for those of us who have the gift of privilege to pause and ask ourselves these questions:

  • What can I do to support the businesses in my community so they can pay it forward and continue to employ people?
  • What can I do to support my neighbors who may be struggling with housing, food insecurity, and other unmet basic needs? 
  • What can I do to support the agencies, including the arts, that fill the gaps in these unmet needs and bring hope and beauty to our community? 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay or should I go? This is often the question facing clients participating in my You Pivot™ Program. 

The answer, of course, is it depends. 

A friend of mine called me recently with this exact question. He is a senior executive in his late sixties, planning to work until 70. This week the company offered him and several colleagues an exit package. On the surface, at least, the exit appears optional. Should I stay or should I go, he wonders.

A long-time client of mine, who founded a company 20+ years ago, sold to private equity, and she stayed on. The PE firm is hands-off, but it’s not the same. She created something unique and had fun when it was small. She isn’t having fun now but wonders what she would do instead.

A new client has been a professional manager for many years. Recently he was promoted to a senior manager role which he thought would be exciting and different, yet it feels so much the same. What to do?

These are all today stories. In my experience, the answer to the “should I stay or should I go” question begins with identifying what matters most, and then, once you are clear about what matters, writing your tomorrow story. The writing of the tomorrow story is most helpful in deciding and navigating any transition that results. 

Sometimes the decision is to stay, and the transition is to come to a place of acceptance; sometimes, the decision is to go, and the transition is to navigate to the next destination.