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I started out 2020 feeling strong. My husband and began to reflect on 2019 and discuss goals for 2020—what was working for us in our marriage, career, and life—and what could be better. I used to nag him endlessly to have this conversation, now it’s an annual tradition.

We had a lovely discussion about our own “love language” (from the book, The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman) and what we each need to feel more connected. My husband is a hugger while I need appreciation, and we both enjoy shared activities. We each had requests for how to make the relationship stronger—such as more snuggling time and words of appreciation. This conversation left me with a deep warmth.

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Then we moved on to other areas of our vision board—career, travel, health, etc. Along with creating a healthy life, my major focus for 2020 is to publish my second book, The Productive Perfectionist: A Woman’s Guide to Smashing the Shackles of Perfectionism, and help it to become even more successful than my first book Collaborative Competition: A Women’s Guide to Succeeding by Competing.

I have always struggled with self-promotion and challenged myself to enjoy it. I have been working on this book and coaching program for five years and now it’s time to launch it into the world! To realize my goals, I enrolled in a virtual business development course and joined a new coach-entrepreneur group that meets in-person. On the health front, I met with nutritionists and health coaches to start a new eating regime.

Another goal for 2020 is to play more tennis. My club matched me with another talented female tennis player who is only available on weekdays at 6:30 am. This would mean getting up at 5:00 am and going to bed at 9:30 pm. Not so easy for me. But I was offered the opportunity to practice with a good female player, so I agreed to give it a try.

I usually play tennis with men because there are few women playing at my level, so I welcomed the respite from worrying about bruising the male ego or dealing with their revenge for having beaten them. Yes, I have been winning most of the games against male players. In my experience, only a few don’t seem to mind losing to me. No one likes to lose, but the gender issue is omnipresent and sometimes feels like a burden. I thought it would be fun to find a female player who enjoys a strenuous workout without all the other drama. I just want to enjoy the game.

I met Christine and realized that she lives in my building, right across the hall from me! I had no idea she was such a fine tennis player. She was also looking for a challenging workout and some fun, versus a grueling match at that early hour. We traded groundstrokes, and serving and playing points without  keeping score, yet aggressively played to win, complimenting the other’s good shots while chasing down balls. We exhausted ourselves, but I felt more energized from this hour of tennis than I had in a while. My body and mind were blissfully happy, and I left wanting more.

Tennis was followed by a busy work day, then my first meeting with the coach-entrepreneur group. As I approached the meeting, I begin to second guess myself, worrying about all the work still had to do after the meeting ended at 8 pm. Heaviness and anxiety began to take over and I decided to turn around and go home to maintain my joyful state.

At that moment, it struck me. I am still a perfectionist, still overdoing. Why must I feel as though I must improve my tennis, grow my business, and enhance my diet—all at the same time? Why can’t improving one thing at a time be enough? I realized that all my efforts never feel like enough. I only feel better about myself if I am pushing myself on multiple levels at the same time.

Wow.

That dawn tennis game taught me that I want that blissful feeling more often. I decided to drop out of the entrepreneur group and postpone the dietitian. What feels best is to focus on building my business by taking the revenue-generating course. I will do that for the next three months, then ask myself, “What would feel most joyful—versus what goal must I do?”

Taking things one step at a time feels rejuvenating. It might not be as impressive as juggling three or four goals, but it feels lighter and more attainable.

Making time for joyful activities is a game changer. With more joy in your life, you are more likely to make better choices for yourself. Take time for that game of tennis, dance class, or to play the piano—whatever lights your fire.

My new vision for 2020 is to take time for joyful activities—it’s fuel for my tank. Being focused on the things that matter is the smartest way to live my best life while being productive and energized at work.

That early morning tennis match woke me up to a whole new outlook.

What will be your wake up call in 2020?

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