Mail, Re: 2018

I spend time that (I think) a lot of people waste looking at their phone or TV, doing absolutely anything else… reading, walking, digging, being outside, going to a class, cooking, writing, talking. Two years ago I made some big changes in my life and I’m still reaping the rewards of a changing mindset, perspective and lifestyle. I quit my job, went travelling to India for 6 months with my partner (returning this March for a little solo challenge/trip), relocated from big city to very rural countryside. These have made other changes come easier as there’s less temptation, life is longer and slower, I’m braver. If you’re not happy I’d recommend to anyone making a big change (quit your job, ditch a client, move house, go on a crazy trip, leave your phone at home). Break the cycle of phone > commute > phone > work > phone > commute (+ alcohol, TV, sofa.)


David, I loved your thoughts. Channeling your inner-Pressfield made me laugh. Steven came via my audiobook collection and shouted at me through my self-imposed creative boot camp early in 2017. He’s a great drill sergeant. May I recommend also Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic? She shepherded me with her gentle, wise voice through starting and finishing my first album. I couldn’t have done it without her.


I wonder sometimes if the mantras we choose for our years, the guiding principle, are refinements upon what came before, or reactions to it. I ask because mine for this year, my fifty-first on the planet, is Conscious Execution. While I have a talent for good ideas and getting them fleshed out to actionable items, I have never been gifted at executing those actions consciously, elegantly:

  • conscious of how I’m spending my time,
  • conscious of the relationship between what my hands are doing and the larger goals of my life,
  • conscious of the impact of my goals, projects, and actions upon the other areas of my life and those around me.

In the end, I guess, it’s the trying. It’s the striving, the breathing, the hands on the rough wooden handle, on the face of the one we love.

Blessings to you and everyone reading in 2018.



Good luck on 2018. It sounds like 2017 was productive and positive for you. Wonderful. (Really. I’m just not huge on exclamation marks.)

What did I think this time last year? I was thinking mainly about balancing my personal sanity with raising a 6 month old and a 2.5 year old. Maternity leave in the Nordic countries is an amazing thing, so I was lucky and allowed a year’s leave to do all that balancing and raising. When the kids are so small, you realize just how little time you have to reflect on your own desires and dreams, goals, etc. Once that baby is placed in your arms, you quietly wrap everything like that up in a box and tuck it away on a high shelf. As the baby(ies) get older, you can gradually start peeking inside the box again and taking things out, handle them with care, and dust them off. A year later, I’m finally at that stage where I can start taking more than just small things out of storage and start imagining bigger ideas again that don’t just revolve around “what can I accomplish during naptime?” or “what can I do on the commute to/from work?” The time stretches and shrinks in ways I never imagined. Emails fall behind. Everything falls behind. Then there are days when you are suddenly free to catch up on almost everything and pick up where you left off so many weeks or months ago.

The thing is, though, is that the main battle is with the feeling of selfishness. Am I selfish to want a few minutes to bang out a few paragraphs of writing while the kids are out in the park with their dad instead of doing the dishes and laundry? (Rhetorical question. Answer is no. The selfishness is still there.)

As for this year, I’m hoping to have more time to accomplish my little goals: finish my books, explore the option of getting them into the hands of a publisher, making sure I take the time to love and be loved, to write my grandmother letters and call my parents, to go for a long walk at least once a week even if it’s been raining for 100 days.

Hoping you enjoy a lovely 2018.


Thanks for your email, David. You always provide engaging reads, but with this new year, I’m clicking “reply” for the first time.

In 2017, I really focused on habit-forming. The things I deemed necessary were the things I simply “did.” It wasn’t a case of wanting to do something or being motivated, I just simply DID them (namely: work out every day after work and write 55 book reviews).

I did this by scheduling time. BUT! Life works on its own twisted schedule.

Here’s what resonated with me, your words: The hard thing is, you can’t do everything at once. That’s one of my pitfalls. When I have an idea I want it done right away. So one of the goas for me is to better schedule myself out into the future to allow for things to be done in the proper timing and process. So I’ll try and be more patient, and I’ll try and bring creative inspiration back from every age.

So, last year I wanted to accomplish many goals, and by scheduling and measuring them, I accomplished 2 goals. BUT! I wanted to do all the things, like get a car and publish my website.

So my goal for 2018 is to schedule my goals and give myself the proper time to do them. I’ve started by creating 3 cycles – January through April, May through August, and September through December. These cycles are longer periods of time and allow for grace periods. What can I do in the first cycle that leads me closer to my goal? I’m doing this in the hope of nurturing behaviors into habits, and habits into actual goal achievements.

How can I get to the point that writing for my website and preparing to get a car or things I just “do”? I’m lucky, I’m internally driven and have learned to celebrate accomplishments by myself. But there are small accomplishments that can possibly domino effect into bigger achievements. By still writing book reviews, for example, I will be better prepared to write for and publish my website.

I’m setting my priorities, and deciding what’s important is a great first step.



Hi David,

You’re not alone. So many people I know made more internal than external changes in 2017. For myself, it was largely driven by the corruption in politics and the rise of bigotry and inequality. Taking external action to fight against tyranny forced me to take stock of my own well being and make necessary changes.

I started 2017 on a low note due to family health issues, the emotional strain of that, and over working. Things continued to get worse for a few more months until I made changes in May and turned my point of view around through mediation, exercise, and therapy. Today I’m feeling great and sooooooo looking forward to a 2018 filled with love, generosity, and productivity. I’ll be doing more to raise my public profile through speaking, writing, and teaching more online courses while increasing my creative output so that I can be paid more for doing what I love. It will still be a lot of balls to juggle, but I got this. 🙂 Sounds like you do too. Cheers!



Happy new year from down under. Thanks for the email pointer. 23,000 emails deleted today and about 76 subscriptions unsubscribed!


Sent from my iPhone


In the past year I feel like I have moved from being a person that wondered constantly what to do, to someone that is doing things. I still overthink and worry a bit but I acknowledge that and try to move on. Instead of wondering ‘should I do this or should I do that’ I make an effort to act. I say, ok, well what would be the next thing to do to make this happen and why am I not doing it now? Then I do it. Right then. Often that next step won’t actually fully commit you to something forever, but it will get you closer and help you make a more informed decision as to whether you do want to or not, instead of just thinking should I / shouldn’t I. Or it might open up another opportunity for you. Email and Twitter are so perfect for just dropping people an instant message… can I be involved? would you like me to help you? can you answer this for me?


Hello David,

One intention I made for 2018 was to subscribe only to newsletters that I loved and to write back to the people who wrote them if the newsletter moved me…and so here I am writing to you again…we’ve had a few virtual coffees!

Simplicity and efficiency is a great theme (this coming from a past Professional Organizer and a current Business Process Consultant) LOL! It sounds like you are in good shape with In-box Zero and if you want to add a good book to your reading list – check out Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott.

And since you asked…my word for 2018 is Pioneering. My business is heading in a new direction and I feel like I am blazing the trail. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path out here in the wilderness, so I am relying on my own resources and drive (just like a pioneer). I am sure someone has come before me and done exactly this, as there is “nothing new under the sun,” but it is all new to me and so viewing myself as a pioneer takes the sting out of the slow start to all this newness.

There are a few changes I would like to make to where I spend my time – I keep asking myself questions like – what would happen if I gave up social media and instead focused that time and energy on the creation of in-real-life experiences? My entrepreneurial friends think I am nuts and that I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face…and yet I wonder? Didn’t people have businesses just a few years ago without social media platforms? It might just give my compare/despair and FOMO muscles a break too. 🙂

I am aiming to write my second book in 2018, host a retreat (or maybe a women’s unconference) in October, travel all of April, plan a mini book tour for myself in July, plan my Mom’s 75th birthday, and go on two solo writing retreats. In amongst all of that, I will be working for a few consulting clients to make enough money to fund it all. I think these are do-able dreams for 2018, I have the habits to support them…and I am surrounding myself with the right people to fill in my gaps and buoy my spirits. Your emails included.

Happy New Year and thanks for the coffee 


Even in your forties the sixteen-year-old keeps showing up and weighing in.

Last year at this time I was hoping to start carving out more time for me. And then in February my mom passed away. And the year became less about growth and more about coping and moving forward even when I wanted to hibernate. I’m hopeful that 2018 is going to be about rediscovering delight.

Whenever someone says something disparaging about social media and the constant connectivity and how it’s apparently killing human connection, I think of these emails and other interesting virtual coffeehouses I “visit” and know that they are wrong. Those people just haven’t found their own coffeehouses online (or aren’t willing to try to).




Happy New Year!

For me, my last year’s theme was Pleasure and holy moly it was a hard year. This year my theme is passionate involvement and growing community roots. I hope it’s gentler and kinder and sweeter.



your question regarding where I’ve been last year at this time rang a bell: last year at this time I’ve been at a club house of a kayaking club in the middle of nowhere, at least it felt like the middle of nowhere: Höxter in Germany, the club house is a bit outside of the city on the other side of the river Weser.
Turns out that last years theme would be “battling inner deamons and the loneliness” combined with anxiety regarding the work perspective of my partner and my future goals regarding my own customers.

That is likely to continue, but with the twist of moving in with my partner of many many years near his home town. Best thing to happen regarding his job chase was a good job right in february 2017: well paid and not overly stressful. At times mentally taxing yes, but not in a bad way. Chasing a flat in Hannover (German spelling) is not as easy as we liked but seems to come to an end.

Therefore I’d say 2018 will bring a new flat with my partner in a new town, with new people. And hopefully a better understanding of myself and resulting from that a better understanding of where I want to be and what I want of my clients at the end of the year.

This time of the year I’m at the home of the family of my partner, enjoying some winter sun and at least mentally at a much better place than last year.

Regarding your Warren Buffet quote: I’m of two minds there: one might be overly confident in it’s abilities if on dismisses opinions of others. But I think one might be too lazy to get better if others praise too much or too afraid to do something if one is too affected by the critique of others.

I hope my English is not too “German” which is my native language.

Thanks for your continued mails. I find them refreshing and they make me think. Which is a good thing 🙂

I wish you a good 2018 and look forward to what it may bring. Probably no coffee shop to work from but who knows?

regards, Ines


Hi David,

Last year I was thinking that I really needed to quit my job, now I’m going to do it, for sure.
New opportunities have come up and the leap will be smoother.
My theme is Habit-Process-Impact, in that order. I’ve been shying away from owning my skills. NO MORE.
I am good at some things and suck at others, just that, time to be honest with myself and others. No more people pleasing bullshit.

Have a great year!



Hi David –

Happy new year! What you wrote about 2017 being a year of external change definitely resonated with me. Reflecting last night on my year (the first time I’ve done that in my life, a significant change from a year ago), many of the landmark moments/shifts took place in my mind, far from the view of others. And a lot of it I’ve only shared with very few people, if any at all. It was a hard year, but an important one in terms of personal growth and self discovery.

2018 is a year of deep learning and play. I love the Kobe Bryant method – carving out time to deliberately focus on improving self. I also want to take a few more risks – have a few more adventures, discover something I never knew I was good at, continue laughing and loving.

All the best for the year ahead!



Hey David,

Happy New Years, this really hit home. 2016 was an amazing year and 2017 crushed me and I’m in the rebuilding process. The strange thing being that I feel that I have improved my skillsets and worked so much harder this past year, but I allowed myself to be in compromised situations where I couldn’t maximize my abilities and ended up trapped and at the mercy of some choices I made years ago that led me somewhat trapped (purchased a fixer upper home that ended up being 2.5 years long worth of renovations and 8x over our max estimated budget while trying to run my business to pay for it all). This year I am focusing on simplicity and efficiency, and going to find the time to get away from home construction and divide my time between web design / marketing, and my true love, painting / drawing. I just wanted to respond as you put all this time and effort into your emails and they often hit home even though I don’t respond so wanted to let you know that I truly enjoy reading them and knowing someone else is out there experiencing and thinking similar things.

Would love to read future emails on “I drastically reduced my stress. I learned how to lead myself.” if you feel like elaborating on these topics.

Best of luck to you in 2018!



Consistently energized and inspired by this community, here’s to making progress together this year.

Thanks for the energy and thanks for sharing your perspective.

xx David

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