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"Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion."

- Simon Sinek

Your Black Zen Team just got back from a short holiday hiatus and we are fired up! There's nothing like a vacation, or a new year, to come back feeling like you're ready for a fresh start and bringing in a new vision. It's a great time to mentally and spiritually hit the refresh button and make sure we're setting ourselves up for success, both personally and professionally. A new year encourages us to think about the changes and tweaks we want to make going forward that will help us get closer to our ultimate goals.

In past years, we've all most likely been victim to setting up a vision for ourselves and then forgetting to build the necessary infrastructure (i.e. mindset shift, financial savings, lifestyle choices, etc.) underneath our big ideas to truly succeed. For this year, our new year's resolution should be to stop making resolutions and start putting boots on the ground in service of our vision and life goals. The secret strategy here - always be thinking a few moves ahead. This is the year to boss up and stop playing our lives like it's checkers, when it's actually chess!

There's nothing wrong with checkers, but generally, the game seems largely reactionary. The goal is to avoid getting captured and waiting to see what our opponent will do before we figure out our next move. On the surface, that's what chess looks like as well. The difference is, in chess, the way to beat our opponent is largely about gaining control of the board and setting up the conditions for the win. In life, that’s the difference between reacting to circumstances vs. proactively creating what we want to see and then strategically thinking about the moves it takes to get there.

While everything may not always go as planned, at the very least, having a strategy gives us a better vantage point when we need to re-evaluate the plan or course correct to reach our goals. It also provides the foresight needed to sacrifice the pawns in our life (i.e. no longer sweating the small stuff, getting rid of the old habits, limiting beliefs and non-essential people) that hinder our progress.

For some of us, holding on to the pawn (what we're used to) could be the very thing holding us back. Don't be afraid to let that go!

It’s time to start playing our lives like chess and that also means focusing on the long game. No more sacrificing our true desires for what feels good in the short term. Once we make sure all our chessman (i.e. choices, people and plans) line up with maintaining or furthering our vision, then we're truly putting ourselves in a position to win the game.

If you want a really great article to get you going, please read How to Play the Long Game with Your Life. This article brought so much good material that we found ourselves giving snaps and yelling “yaaaas queen” out loud more than once. Were we a bit extra? Yes, but was this article totally on point about how to head into a new year – absolutely. It eloquently breaks down what taking the long view really means and gives realistic examples of how to start living life in service of the type of people we want to be rather than just by what we want to attain.
Let’s start by walking the talk this year. What does that look like in real life? Follow-through. Good old-fashioned self-discipline and execution, with zero excuses. Focusing on the execution, just as much as we do on the vision, helps us to use strategy at every level of the game.

All the talk and vision in the world is useless

without tangible actions to back it up. Period. Full stop.

Another helpful resource for executing our vision comes from a past Weekly Wellness publication – A Glimpse Into The Real, where we discussed how to stop being hijacked by our habitual responses to life’s circumstances and easily get back on track to make sure we accomplish our mini-goals (no matter what surprises pop up) along the way.

If you’re looking for ways to sustain yourself this year while you tackle your best life, consider committing 5 more minutes a day to your daily planning to make sure you’re using your time wisely. Or, become more consistent with your meditation practice to keep you mindful of when you veer off-course or fall back into old mental habits. However you choose to start, we’re on this ride with you. Once we start living our lives with our full life goals in mind (personal, professional and otherwise) rather than for just right now, we start navigating the board in a whole new way.

Cheers to getting our pieces into place, keeping our long-term vision strong, our execution on point and making moves on the board accordingly!

Your Partners in Progress,