The end of the year is the time that many of us are thinking about how we can improve ourselves in the future, how we can have more fun or be more effective. The space between the two years, that seems to come from nowhere, gives us ample time to consider ourselves both in the present and in the future. And so it was on Christmas eve, while driving to the butcher to collect a six kilo Turkey, I heard an interview on the radio with a very natural and enthusiastic sounding person – the interviewee was telling how a simple piece of advice had changed his life.
His girlfriend had left him a while ago and his life had changed in a way that he hadn’t expected. He became insular, staying at home, turning down invitations and avoiding unnecessary social contact. Until one day a friend told him that he should ‘say yes more’. He said “it’s not good for you to stay in so much”. The interviewee thought about it for a while and decided to take his friends advice literally. He also considered that ‘just say yes’ would make a good title for a self help book, and so it was that he decided to give the advice a try.
He started to say ‘yes’ to literally everything; Yes to buying a secondhand car he didn’t need, yes to learning Flemish, yes to invitations to parties and yes to offers of daring and adventure and even yes to mundane activities. And all the while he documented his experiences and set about writing his book.
Several months later the phone rang, on the other end of the line was a film producer (apparently the maker of the Harry Potter movies) – “I have read your book” he said, “very interesting – I think a broader public would be interested in it, may I make a movie of it?” Of course the answer was ‘yes’. I don’t know the name of the interviewee or the exact title of his book but I do know that Jim Carey is playing in the movie and his ex girl friend in real life is being played by a famous actress.
The moral of the story is pretty obvious I guess but I thought it worth pondering for a while. Especially while considering ones New Year resolutions and how to stick to them. However, in my case, I am going to do the opposite. In 2007 and 2008 I said ‘yes’ to too many people with the result that I overstretched myself. In 2009, I am going to concentrate on what I know and do best, in environments where I have influence, in situations where I can be most effective. And, if I can have some fun at the same time, then so be it. My five year strategy plan is going well and all I want to do in the difficult months ahead is to try and keep it all on course.
So here’s wishing all my readers a very happy new year and a successful 2009!