1024px-Narcissus-closeupI’ve never been a big one for new year’s resolutions. January is dark, the sparkly Christmas lights have been banished to the loft for another year and the only thing on the horizon is February. Ugh. The only inspiration the new year gives me is to hibernate. Spring, though?  An entirely different proposition! Maybe it’s that I’m no longer getting up in grim, grey, pre-dawn, or that daffodils (my favourite flowers) are everywhere; perhaps it’s just the fact that the spring sunshine illuminates dust in a way that forgiving lightbulbs never do. Whatever it is, I invariably spend the long Easter weekend in a frenzy of cleaning, tidying, organising and – more importantly – drawing up elaborate plans to improve my:

  • house
  • work
  • fitness
  • oh, you know, life in general…

Yes. Even though I know perfectly well that trying to change too many things at once and having vague rather than SMART goals is a great way to fail, the temptation is still there. Fortunately, I have found something that absolves me of most (if not all) of the responsibility of action-planning. Phew. I blame The Internet! Obviously. Specifically, Facebook. My newsfeed seems to be packed full of people sharing links to 20 Things that will improve your life now or 10 ways to change your life or that promise to dramatically change your life in one week! Well, that’s about 50 extra things I need to do; no wonder I’m behind on my admin.

I don’t mean to be facetious; of course there’s a time and place to consider a big overhaul, and some of these lists and websites might be helpful but, from my own experience and from talking to friends, researchers and other colleagues, trying to do too much too quickly can leave you feeling overwhelmed by the additional pressure that you’ve created. So, here’s my own version of the ubiquitous life-changing list: think about one thing. Just one.

  • What is the one thing you want to achieve most of all?
  • What is the one main thing stopping you from achieving it?
  • What one thing would help you to overcome that barrier?
  • What one thing can you do RIGHT NOW to start?

I don’t claim that this is a brand new revelation in productivity and happiness, but so often the things that are really important to us – professionally or personally – can get lost in the noise of every other responsibility, expectation or routine task There might well be more than one block in your way; you’re likely to have more than one thing that you really want to achieve, and that’s fine. But give yourself time to think about just one thing to start with. What comes immediately to mind might surprise you. Let me know in the comments if you try this and whether or not it’s helpful. Also, if you have any other tips or advice, share the wisdom!

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