Ten vows for – the new year – right now.

I write a letter to myself every year (in addition to journaling and obsessive list-making and many other things involving pens, paper and imagination).  One of the most important things on my list is not just what I want to achieve, but also my best guess at the way to achieve what I want to achieve – a means to get to the goals that I want to accomplish.

Next to each goal is a break-down of the steps that it will take to get there.

A little further to the right, hanging by my door as I leave my room each morning –  is a set of reminders for things to do, each day, as I live. These are my “rules to live by.” When I get overwhelmed with my ideas, my aspirations, and my lists, this is the list called “right now.”

On my wall I have posted my list of ten things for right now.

Somewhere in the middle, when it gets crazy (Hello, April and May!) – I breathe and remind myself to go slowly and focus on incremental changes. I remind myself not to race to the end of the year, but to let myself learn and grow, slowly, over time.

As part of my lessons from less series, and as a means for taking more time to step back and reflect, these are my rules for right now, for today, and probably for tomorrow.

They’ve really helped me in terms of sanity and balance (however balanced you can be as an intra/entrepreneur). And every day I try to remember these rules, from when I wake up each morning until I fall over in bed each night. I post them because I see them when I wake up, some mornings at 4am, and when I fall asleep at night. My wall, painted blue from a previous’ tenant, has a smattering of green post-its and sheets of paper pinned to it, tacked up, with words written and scribbled and crossed out.

When I get dressed in the morning, I can see the notes next to my mirror. And when I get overwhelmed by my ambitions, scared of doing the little things, terrified that I’ll fail miserably and beautifully, I breathe and try to remember my simple rules.

Here are ten things for right now.

1 – Keep it simple. Appreciate the small steps. Do something little every day and it will probably turn into something bigger.

2 – Live each day as though you may only have one more. Everybody dies. It’s not morbid. It’s true. There’s no guarantee of any second chances.

3 – Appreciate momentum. Never wait to get started.

4 – Laugh often. At least half of the time, when presented with fun and with work, do the fun stuff. It will help the work stuff. (Of course, the ultimate goal is to have the fun stuff BE work, but that doesn’t always happen exactly like that.) Often the fun stuff turns into the best work stuff, anyways. Smile and laugh while you work – it helps.

5 – Encourage others. Never discourage others. People are working hard to do incredible things. Let them.

6 – Wander, Walk, and Run. A lot. It’s what your body is designed to do. We are not designed to sit at computers or at desks. Listen to the most basic, fundamental tenets of design in your body (it makes you a better designer/worker anyways).

7 – Learn. Read. A lot. If you can’t read, watch. If you can’t watch, listen. Observe people around you. Ask questions. Question assumptions. Find something to be insatiably curious about it, and figure out how it works and why it does what it does. Cultivate an insatiable sense of curiosity and wonder.

8 – Listen honestly to the heart. When you get too busy, breathe. When you’re scared, question why, and let yourself feel the emotions. They are honest reflections of your opinions and circumstances.

9 – When you’re scared, it’s okay to step back and reflect before you dive in again. Just don’t wait too long. (You might miss the boat).

10 – When you’re tired, go to sleep. There is no better cure for anything than a beautiful night of rest. Sleep is the most powerful anecdote to hundreds of ailments. The time under closed eye provides a place for imagination, brain re-organization, mental sorting, and is exceptionally mood-boosting. In a world where we are faced with inordinate amounts of pressure to work more, find a way to be selective about the work you do and when your work is done each day, go to bed. Sleep is powerful.

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Hope this helps you as much as it helps me. I fail to achieve these simple rules on a regular basis, and posting them somewhere visible is a great way to remember to relax and do better work.

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