Around about this time it seems that just about everything I read or hear is encouraging us to set new goals for the coming year, to turn over a new leaf and to make resolutions that will lead to our lives being better.
To be honest, I'm a bit over it.
I do want to encourage you to take some action to make the coming year a good one, but instead I want to encourage you to commit to less, not more.
For some years I have been recommending a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
I listened to the audio book version and, dare I say, it changed my life.
The fundamental premise of the book is simply - we cannot do everything in our lives that we want to or think we should do.
We cannot, and trying to will lead to unhappiness.
McKeown encourages us to adopt a 'disciplined pursuit of less, but better, rather than an undisciplined pursuit of more'.
In some ways Essentialism is similar to minimalism - the trend of down-sizing, decluttering and simplifying. But in other ways it is far more powerful.
The book encourages us to work out the things that are essential in our lives that will lead us to happiness. Once we know what things are essential, we say no to the rest.
Author Greg McKeown encourages us to adopt a 'disciplined pursuit of less, but better, rather than an undisciplined pursuit of more'.
Easy in concept, hard in reality, but if we truly want less but better, we need to learn to and be OK with saying "no" more often.
Over-committing by saying "yes" to everything is particularly dangerous for people with leadership responsibility.
If you say "yes" too much and then find you can't deliver on everything, you will inevitably let some people down.
If you do this often enough your reputation will suffer as people won't be sure that they can trust you and you might be seen as unreliable.
Trust and reliability are crucial to building relationships with others, so even though your intentions may be good in saying "yes" if you let people down you will negatively impact your ability to lead effectively.
I encourage the leaders I work with to understand the importance of doing what they say they will do.
I use a technique called the Say Do Ratio. What percentage of the things that you say you will do, do you actually do?
Let's say you commit to 10 things but only deliver on six, your Say Do Ratio is 60 per cent.
Leaders build their reputation by increasing the ratio to as close to 100 per cent as possible. At the same time, people with a low Say Do Ratio find it hard to build relationships and lead effectively.
Something that I use to decide when to pursue something or when to say "no" is a simple question that I ask myself: "If I do this, will it serve me?"
I suppose in Greg McKeown's terms, what I am trying to decide is if the thing that I am considering doing is one of my essentials. If the thing is not going to serve me, I say no.
In the book, he uses a funny metaphor for making life decisions. He says it's like going through your wardrobe, taking each item of clothing and asking a simple question. If I didn't own this, how much would I be prepared to pay for it now?
If the answer is something like I wouldn't buy it or I wouldn't pay much for it, he says 'ditch it'.
The hardest thing about this philosophy is being OK with saying no and letting go of trying to please everyone.
It is the essence of Essentialism - accepting that we can't do everything that we want to or think we should do.
Many of us want to be liked and some of us are people-pleasers, but the end result of us trying to do everything that we want to or think we should do is that our lives are chaotic, hectic, and ultimately, we let others down.
Make 2020 a great year by committing to less but better, and being OK with saying no to those things that don't serve you.