Themes For The Coming Year

by Stephen Mills on December 23, 2009


The following are the things I’m going to focus on in the coming year.  I’m sharing them with you because I think they are things that would benefit almost anyone.  So consider these my recommendations to you as well.

Spend More Time in the Real World

The virtual world has a variety and reach that is often hard to match in the real world.  However, I fear we are sacrificing depth for breadth and I’ve become convinced that isn’t a good thing.  Sure I can travel to a lot of places via the Internet and learn a lot about them, but none of that comes even close to the experience of the time I spent in the real Rocky Mountains this year or even just going to the beach.  I value my online friends immensely, but they just aren’t the same as a real flesh and blood friend.  I love reading, but reading on my computer just isn’t the same as holding a book in my hands.  So the bottom line is that the computer isn’t going to get as much time next year.

Align My Activities with My Values

This is something I pay attention to now, but I still see a lot of gaps.  It’s pretty easy to rationalize most activities to align with some claimed value.  I’m probably just making it up.  If I’m honest with myself and ask the really hard question of “Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now that aligns with my most deeply held values?”, the answer is often no.  The same thing applies to relationships.

Add More Variety

I tend to become obsessive and end up focusing too narrowly on something.  For example I read a lot, but in recent years my reading has become much more narrowly focused on science and personal development.   I hardly ever read a novel anymore.  I’m going to read more novels, biographies, philosophy, and classic literature.

Daniel Pink’s chapter on symphony in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future inspired me to try and learn to draw.  Right now I can’t even draw a good stick figure.

I’ve decided to start an additional blog that is oriented around thinking and ideas rather than focused on personal development.  For quite some time I’ve been itching to write on other topics that don’t really fit the theme of this blog.


I tend to start things and then don’t finish them and therefore my investment was wasted or delayed.  I spent time but got no benefit.  I’m a terrible procrastinator.  I’ve decided I need to focus on finishing.  I don’t think there is anything more important to productivity than actually finishing something.  Don’t get me wrong, I try to avoid the sunk cost bias.  If something isn’t important, it doesn’t matter how much time I’ve spent on it, I need to cut my losses and quit.  The key is to not start something unless it is important and then focus on finishing it as quickly as possible and moving on to something else.

Simplify and Minimize

In order to do something new, you have to make room for it and so something else has to go.  I’m really going to be focused on simplifying and streamlining my important activities and eliminating the rest.

I’m really drawn to minimalist themes but it is so unnatural for me.  Why are we drawn to that which we are not good at?  I love the look and feel of minimalist spaces for example, but when I look around me I see piles of stuff everywhere.  I need help on this one! 🙂  It may be hopeless.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Coach Charley December 23, 2009 at 9:04 am

Very simple but potentially powerful themes. Coaching point: choose one – the one with the biggest impact – as the place to start and go from there. Trying to do it all at the same time may prove to much!


Stephen Mills December 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Hi Charley, you are surely correct that one goal at a time is the best approach. Thanks for commenting.


Positively Present December 23, 2009 at 10:05 am

Sounds like you have some great plans for 2010! 🙂
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..coping with joy =-.


Stephen Mills December 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Hello Dani, thanks for stopping by as usual 🙂


Suzanne December 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

I’m really drawn to minimalist themes but it is so unnatural for me. Why are we drawn to that which we are not good at? I love the look and feel of minimalist spaces for example, but when I look around me I see piles of stuff everywhere. I need help on this one! 🙂 It may be hopeless.

My advice? Beware of all-or-nothing thinking. 🙂

If you decide to change your surroundings to align more with minimalism, start by identifying what elements of it speak to you the most and then begin incorporating them. Is it the lines of the furniture? Is it that surfaces are mostly empty? Is it the colors you’ve seen in these spaces? And so on.
.-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Accepting the 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge for 2010? =-.


Stephen Mills December 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Hi Suzanne, that sounds like fantastic advice, thanks! I see by the title of you last blog article I need to hurry on over and check it out 🙂


Suzanne December 24, 2009 at 12:34 am

You’re welcome.

I hope you do check out the 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge! All it takes to commit to the challenge is to purge one piece of clutter per day for 365 days. Super do-able and you’ll be 365 items lighter, and freer!

The challenge is to inspire a routine approach to looking at our stuff for signs of it being clutter. A routine that we can keep up with and develop into a lifestyle change…not getting on a decluttering high that will lead to a de-motivating crash & burn.
.-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Accepting the 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge for 2010? =-.


Steve-Personal Success Factors January 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Suzanne, I’m taking up your challenge. I’ve tweeted you a question: how do I follow along with each day of the 365 day challenge? I found the blog, but was not sure how to find each day.
.-= Steve-Personal Success Factors´s last blog ..You Can Find More Success Factors for 2010 Online Impact Here =-.


Suzanne January 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Hi Steve, way to go on accepting your own 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge!

This challenge is FOR YOU & you are only accountable TO YOU. The blog provides encouragement and stimulates motivation but there isn’t any direction other than for challengers to declutter one thing a day–that’s it. Anything more is just extra credit you are giving to yourself!

For some this may sound too simplistic or not as effective as a more intensive decluttering marathon. The idea was to keep it super do-able for everyone; to build the routine of decluttering by doing it each and every day in a simple way (one thing); to develop an “editing eye” when it comes to stopping clutter from entering your home (i.e. junk mail, stuff given to you by others that you don’t love, need, want, etc.); and to shorten the life expectancy of the stuff already living a long life hidden away in your home.

Have fun! Decluttering physical objects can become a bit addicting, including getting rid of the mental clutter that was with it. Congrats, again, on taking this journey with us and getting rid of unwanted, unneeded, unused and unloved items in your life!
.-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Quote to Reflect Upon (Jan10) =-.

Hulbert December 23, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Hi Stephen. Really nice article here. I think you pointed out something important here which is not always doing what we are comfortable with and exploring unknown areas of life that align with our values. As for being drawn to things we are not good at, I think it’s just part of our human nature to do so. Thanks for sharing and writing this and I hope you will improve on your stick figure next year! 🙂


Stephen Mills December 25, 2009 at 7:55 am

Hi Hulbert, thanks for your comment. Some people think that novelty and curiosity are key components of happiness. I tend to agree.


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} December 24, 2009 at 2:08 am

I love each and every point in this post…such a great mantra for the new year!
My favorite is Simplify and Minimize…something i believe very strongly in and am working towards…
Thanks for this awesome post 🙂
.-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Hearts Design =-.


Stephen Mills December 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

Hello Zeenat and thanks for stopping in to comment. I’m pretty good and simplifying but minimizing is another story!


Derrick December 24, 2009 at 8:02 am

Once again,well put! It’s so hard to live in the “real world” while your on the computer. Much like it is when you are mesmorized in a good movie you are watching. But to put it into perspective is another thing. What is the intelligent way I ask myself?




Stephen Mills December 25, 2009 at 7:59 am

Hello Derrick. Thanks for your thoughts. I spent most of yesterday in the real world and very little in the virtual. Merry Christmas!


michael milstead December 24, 2009 at 11:34 am

Right on the point of everyday life, when doing something make sure its what you should be dong if not its a waste either enjoy or do not it either its part of your goals or ways to get to your goals or it not


Stephen Mills December 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

Hello Michael, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life that we often forget to ask ourselves why were are doing what we are doing. I often find I don’t have an answer to that. Thanks for your comment.


Derrick December 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm


The second time I read your blog,I said,no wonder I like this blog,it aligns with my way of thinking in this moment exactly! Looking forward to seeing your upcoming new blog as I hear what you are saying in that statement as well. As far as “stuff” goes,keep being concious of it and it becomes more and more natural every day. Don’t be in a hurry to change,just do it.



Lana-DreamFollowers Blog December 26, 2009 at 12:51 am

I definitely need to implement all of those recommendation Stephen, especially Finish and Align With Values. Thanks for reminding me:) Great post as always!
.-= Lana-DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..How To Spend Time With Yourself and Why. =-.


naaz December 26, 2009 at 5:28 am

very intresting, i can relate many of them with me too.well even may call it time change or destiny want me to see different things in life, im too going through few subtle changes in life. and more i get encounter with new rational thing the more i relaised ohh i have’t given attention there. I too a possive readers and was being narrow reader in my choice of reading, well i am in the process of changing and not waiting new year to make it happen. reading diverse kinda subjects which i never thought of earlier reading. one thing i m really keen to do is i wanted my writing to be mature and well meausred with words and the subject, so the amount of knoweldge i am getting wd various reading i can write it down and share with others. hopefully i can achive this.
second i find in myself lack of focus and dertemination of doing works asinged to me, which makes laps great achivements.
the third thing though its been good time i am satying away of my family and independent but yet at a time i get dependeable on others for my happiness and sorrow . i would love to see the point and experince from where if no matter i am attached to anythings it takes me few minuts to get detached too.
i know its high position and require lots of tough purification of mind and soul, which may put me in dark tunnel. but if the susess is granted i will like to go for attempt. Hope fully i can


meatlessmama December 30, 2009 at 10:47 pm

If you want to learn to draw I highly recommend reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I thought I couldn’t draw until I read this. It was amazing!
.-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Creative Outlet aka Keeping Sane =-.


naaz January 1, 2010 at 4:16 am

Thanks a tone. will surely lookfwd to read this. thank you very much


Nea | Self Improvement Saga December 31, 2009 at 2:37 am

Hi Stephen. I definitely need to borrow from your list. I think I’ll write the word finish all over everything as a reminder to get things done.

Wishing you a marvelous new year.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..The Tranquility of Aloneness Without Loneliness =-.


patti December 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Love your list; your blog rocks. I’ve got to put finish higher up on my list, for sure. I’m a master of starting:)
I know what you mean about a separate blog; mine is supposed to be an ‘art’ blog and often ends up as my writing outlet. What about adding a page?
Have a great New Year and I’ll be reading…
.-= patti ´s last blog ..Back to the studio – yay! =-.


Steve-Personal Success Factors January 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Two things that you shared hit it on the nail for me: 1) spending more time in the real world, balancing my time in the virtual world with that of the offline world. And 2) aligning my activities with my values. For me, that means that my main focus this year is being a positive influence in my family, and not having my head into the business side of things so much.
.-= Steve-Personal Success Factors´s last blog ..You Can Find More Success Factors for 2010 Online Impact Here =-.


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