December is such an important month of the year. I, and I hope you, will be sitting down to reflect on the past year and plan for the new year. Each year, as we prepare for the holidays and the New Year celebration, we see various images of Father Time and Baby New Year. The general idea is that the old year is dying and the new year is being born to start fresh.
Perhaps it is time to analyze how each of us perceives these two
How do you describe Father Time? Stooped over from the heaviness
of life’s burdens? Sad that the world is forever changed with
fear now considered normal? Sorry and perhaps feeling a little guilty
from mistakes made? Weary? Ready or even eager to end his reign?
Or maybe you have a brighter picture of Father Time. Wiser. Grateful
for all that he has learned from mistakes. Joyous that he has brought
so much sunshine into the lives of others as he has made his way
through the year. Enthusiastic about all the possibilities that
lie ahead. Sad that he is being forced to retire just when he was
“getting it.” Trusting that some of his hard-learned
wisdom will be passed on and used by Baby New Year.
And how do you see Baby New Year? Trembling with fear as he peers
out into the many days that lay before him? Reluctant to try new
things because he might burn his fingers? Unwilling to trust that
wisdom will surely come from experience?
Or is Baby New Year screaming to be heard? Eagerly looking for new
ideas and new roads to follow. Enthusiastic about his own divine
abilities to persevere and thrive. Willing to take risks and make
changes to grow up strong and capable.
LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
As you consider how you perceive Father Time and Baby New Year,
is it not like deciding whether the glass half full or half empty?
Does it not reflect how you will take care of your business and,
indeed, your personal growth in the New Year and the future beyond
For more than a year, we all have been adjusting to the truth (or
terror) of the 21st century. Many of you may not know that I live
in the northernmost point of Virginia—just about 40 minutes
from where the sniper suspects who terrorized Virginia, Washington,
D.C. and Maryland, were apprehended. I’m about one hour from
one of the sites of a shooting—one of more than a dozen that
killed or maimed innocent human beings during the month of October.
Yes, living is not what it used to be, and neither is making a living.
Look in the mirror and truthfully describe what you see. Are you
frightened for your children, your spouse, yourself or your business?
Or do you see that there is still much hope and joy in this world
and that it is to be cherished and nurtured? Do you see that life
goes by whether we choose to fear it or to enjoy every ounce of
it? Are you ready to take the risks necessary to live your life
and create many fond memories? Are you ready to enjoy what you have
and reap the joyous rewards instead of putting it away for a special
Every year, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s
Day, I take a day to reflect and plan my goals for the next year.
To prepare for this article, I looked back over the chart I made
last December of all the goals I had for 2002. This year was the
first time I went so far as to map out what I had to do to achieve
each goal. In the past, I was content to reflect on the past, dream
for the future and write down the goals, which certainly helped.
For the first six months of 2002, I adhered to a rule of visiting
this chart (posted on my office wall) every Monday. As the months
passed, some things dropped off the chart completely and are not
even considerations for the future. I also saw I was making gradual
progress on others. Then the bottom fell out of this time management
program when my business computer got sick and died. Along with
it went my planner software, which kept me focused and organized.
At the same time, I was faced with four months of using a very old,
slow and cranky computer—now very lovingly and thankfully
I was amazed when I finally got the chance to review my map—for
the first time since June! Out of 11 major goals, (Yes, I’m
just like you thinking I can do more than is humanly possible!),
two had disappeared forever; a major but necessary change stopped
all progress on one goal; three are not even close to happening,
but are still hoped for; three were accomplished; and major progress
had been made on two others! Considering I had not looked at this
map in more than four months, that is quite an accomplishment, even
if I do say so myself.
Obviously, as I look over the year, I can say that mapping my goals
was an excellent tool for accomplishment. However, true reflection
needs to go a bit beyond the tangible evidence and accomplishments.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
As we struggle almost daily with changes that appear to make our
future more and more uncertain, what can we do to make our little
part of the world more secure, more comfortable, more loving? Maybe
answering these questions will help direct you in your future plans.
1. Am I happy with my accomplishments of this past year? (The key
word is happy.)
2. What good thing(s) did I accomplish that I had not planned?
3. Did what I accomplish really matter? Will it matter 20 years
from now? What about 100 years from now? (Think about this as you
try to satisfy that difficult customer!)
4. If I were to depart this world tomorrow, would my accomplishments
be remembered? How would I want to be remembered?
5. Did my presence in this world make a difference? (How many times
have you seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”?)
6. What is the reason for my presence on Earth at this time doing
what I’m doing? Is it time to stop doing it and start doing
7. What will I do different to make the coming year more meaningful
to myself, more valuable to others, more memorable?
8. What can I do in the New Year that will make me proud and glad
I did it when I pause for reflection next December?
I’m sure you all have heard the saying, “Today is a
gift. That’s why it is called the present.” Today is
what matters! Please take the time to think about that. I just related
to you how I accomplished some goals in my life during this past
year, and it certainly gives me a good method for planning next
Admit it. Didn’t you expect me to tell you what works and
what may not? Truly, accomplishing mapped goals is not what made
my year a success. The accomplishment that I did not plan, and was
never part of my map, is what matters the most to me and I hope
has mattered to others. And what is that?
It has been my spiritual growth, i.e. learning to see the daily
miracles that are all around me and trying to enhance the miracles
for others. It has been a continual revelation of how truly blessed
I am to have such a wonderful husband and children who have very
special spouses (not blessed with grandchildren yet!), and to have
many very close friends.
It has been an awakening that every day is special because it is
all the time I’ll have to make a difference in someone else’s
life. It has been a time of trying harder to be still and to listen
to my higher power (for me, my Heavenly Father) and, yes, of slowly
relinquishing control to that higher power.
I’ve learned that, yes, it is good to make plans and map them
out, but it is not a good idea to have too many goals requiring
too many steps to accomplish. It is self-created stress that is
not necessary. We all think we can do more than we really can. I’ve
learned that all good ideas are not necessarily for me to accomplish.
In the last few years, I’ve learned that I must be flexible
and not become too attached to goals just for the sake of accomplishment,
because what I was meant to do yesterday may not be what I need
to be doing today and tomorrow. I must listen to my inner spirit
when it says it’s bored and has no enthusiasm for what I’m
I also know I should put personal and spiritual goals on that same
map with business goals. And, above all, it is not my happiness
I should be seeking but the ability to help and bring joy to others.
Yes, I need to enjoy my work, but over and above that there is greater
joy in helping others find happiness and satisfaction.
Isn’t that why anyone is in business? If we cannot make our
customers happy and help them resolve problems, then our work has
no meaning. Yes, there are a few bad apples in the basket, but how
much less stress would you have if you accepted that this is the
way they are and you have no power to change them? Instead of being
critical of those picky customers, try even harder to do what will
make them happiest. That could be simply not working for them!
As you, I will never run out of work that needs to be done. One
day I spent a little too much time trying to get to know a prospect
and guide her on the best investment plan for her business. As I
hung up the phone, knowing I did not make any money on the phone
call, I thought, “We’re here to help!” I then
realized that was my automatic first and sincere thought after every
call. In fact, I was more likely to think it if I had not made a
sale. I believe that what needs to be done will get done as long
as you do all you can to help others.
Whatever you did yesterday or last week or 20 years ago does have
value. Searching your soul to determine and plan for the future
does have value. But what you do today to help someone else—be
they competitor, customer, friend or family—will bring you
closer to the sweetest success to be had! Welcome in the New Year
with open arms and make your daily present a true gift to someone
Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 26-year veteran of the drapery
workroom industry. Having owned drapery workrooms as one person and
as a company of nine, she is now president of Workroom Concepts, a
consulting firm offering educational resources to the industry on
its Web site (www.workroomconcepts.com).
Her experience in the window covering arena has contributed to her
success as a business consultant. A professional speaker and writer,
she has authored several industry products including Order in the
Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications and Price Your Work
with Confidence, available through D&WC.