The beginning of a new year is such a wonderful gift. It’s a marker of new beginnings and brings with it the blessing of renewed hope for good things to come. This hope fuels the creation of New Year’s resolutions and goals as we decide what we want to make Appear in our lives and organizations. This year, as you think and plan for what you want to make appear, I invite you to think about an equally powerful magical effect: Disappearance. What do you need to make go away in 2014?
When we’re planning to make things appear in our life and our organization we’ve been taught to create lists and plans for all the things we need to do. We end up adding more activity to our already jam-packed schedule. This is one reason why failure rates for New Year’s resolutions and organizational change initiatives are so dismal. It doesn’t make sense to expect to achieve results when we add more to an agenda that is already full. Invoking the magic of disappearance will make your goals appear with greater ease and speed.
I have been clear about my personal sense of purpose and vision for some time. Yet, several years ago I realized that I was making zero progress. I had a yearning to do what I love in service of those who loved what I do, but it wasn’t happening. It dawned on me that I was engaged in a lot of activities that were not aligned with my priorities. So I made those activities disappear, which opened up the space for my priorities to appear. I resigned from two boards, stopped performing improvisational comedy in the evening, and stopped spending time in relationships that were not essential. That year I met the love of my life and started the business that I dreamed of.
When we stop doing things that aren’t aligned with what we’re trying to create, it opens up time and energy to focus on our highest priorities.
Saying “no” and ending participation is difficult, and I’m not suggesting that you walk away from commitments. However, when you start making changes, it does require communication. When I told board members and my improv colleagues that I was going to discontinue my involvement because I had a clear sense of purpose and vision, they not only supported me, but they also admired my clarity and commitment.
Just as ending these activities opened up space for me, it also opened up space for the group to bring in newly energized people who could help them continue achieving their goals.
What do you need to make disappear?
- Organizational initiatives not aligned with strategic goals or core competencies
- Personal involvement in projects and meetings that are not aligned with your organization’s most important priorities
- “Extra-curricular” activities – outside your job
- Activities that don’t enable you to use your strengths
- Activities that require you to do things you’re not good at
- Distracting activities – pleasant activities at the cost of what will have greater impact
- Relationships that aren’t positive, supportive and nurturing
- Thinking about the past instead of your desired future
A powerful magic word makes the act of disappearance possible. It’s simple and elegant and takes great courage to say. It is, “no”.
Watch how you create magic in your own life when you make things disappear. You’ll be amazed at how easily and quickly your aspirations begin to appear.
 Sadly, research shows that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail and 75% of organizational change initiatives also fail. See:
- Blame It on the Brain: The latest neuroscience research suggests spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach, Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2009. https://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703478704574612052322122442.html
- Mark J. Dawson and Mark L. Jones, PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Human Change Management: Herding Cats” (2007). https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/people-change-consulting-services/hearding-cats-human-change-management.jhtml
 Thanks to my friend Steve Farber for this wisdom. https://www.stevefarber.com/