Every December I create my 3 Wishes for the following year. This ritual is my chance to reflect on the year ending: its quintessential flavour, its high and also its low moments. And then, as the New Year approaches, I turn my head, Janus-like, and create my 3 Wishes for the year to come. I write these 3 Wishes in my journal and these become my personal vision, guiding my choices and actions for that year.
The following December I review these, what worked, what didn’t…and why… and then, once again, I create the next year’s vision with my 3 Wishes and subsequent actions to secure them.
I began this tradition 25 years ago and over the years, as I moved into the rhythm of this ritual, my wishes grew into an incremental visioning and evolved into ultimately finding my purpose, as well as continuing to take me on the most unexpected and magical adventures.
This is the framework for creating ‘My 3 Wishes for 2024’:
1. A brief review of 2023 including your personal as well as your professional life:
a) What were your high moments and also your low ones? b) What was the overall flavour/tone of 2023?
c) What are you most proud of about how you responded to this year? d) Any regrets?
2. Now think about 2024:
a) What’s the overall flavour/tone you really want for 2024? Write a word/phrase. b) Find/create a visual to capture this. c) Now create your 3 Wishes for 2024 and the actions that will best ensure they happen.
If you create wishes that are too easy, then you will probably secure them, but you might be settling for just good enough. If you are aiming for something that really matters to you, then be bold and hungry: feeling shy about your wishes is the best indicator that you are on the right track! And these wishes are not exclusively focused on material outcomes. They include physical, emotional and psychological well-being, flowing from that fundamental question: ‘What will make your heart sing?’
Last December, my overall flavour/tone wish for 2023 was a year 'rich with love, sparkle and great magic.’ And so it proved. It began with a bang on 6th January when my son told me he’d been headhunted for an exciting job in New York. I was stunned. Louis’s Christmas present to me had been a special theatre event with him for that evening on 6th January. An hour before we met, I had done my annual first Full Moon of the year ritual in which I visualise with focussed intent all I want for the year to come, based on ‘My 3 Wishes’ format above.
I fell in love with New York twenty years ago and it has been integral to my life, both personally and professionally, bringing me many seminal and deeply transformational experiences. It is always connected to my 3 wishes. It’s also where I wrote my first Cascãd article, what have now become these Perspectives Posts. It was October 2011. I was out in New York teaching on a leadership programme for London Business School and I had just been told that a major client of the School’s had unexpectedly and for financial reasons, withdrawn the following 12 months’ programmes, ones that I had been exclusively booked for. I had turned down all other work and, as an Associate, there would be no recompense for this loss of earnings. The news hit me hard. I felt helpless, anxious and stuck but there was one spark of hope…we only need one glimmer!.. that in my fear I clung to.
I had been urged many times since I had launched Cascãd 3 years before, to start writing posts as part of its social media presence. I had resisted because of shyness. I was not afraid of writing, but I felt deeply shy because I was writing to my international database and I wanted to write in a more connecting, personal style that felt exposing of me, i.e. there was nowhere to hide.
But I was now at that pivotal point of little resistance with a stronger instinctive urgency driving me and shyness was a self-conscious indulgence I couldn’t afford. The time for exclusive dependence on another company, i.e. London Business School, was over and it was time to fly the nest. Cascãd… and I… had to grow up.
Synchronistically the passing of Steve Jobs the same month, October 2011, brought those same people I felt so shy about into my orbit. Jobs’ Stanford University Commencement Address had been the foundation of my teaching since 2005 and I was flooded by emails as people…clients, students, friends… reached out wanting to talk and share their sense of loss. It was connecting to them that prompted me to get over myself, swallow my shyness and write my first Post. ‘The Courage to Fall and Fly: a call to lead an extraordinary life’ was a tribute to Jobs but it was also to all of us who find the courage to take a different path:
‘So who are these people prompted to write such moving emails and what is it about that speech that speaks so deeply to them? The thread that unites them all is that they are creative visionaries, though many of them have yet to realise this; they are extremely bright, gifted with what Walter Isaacson calls ‘intuitive intelligence’:
‘So was Mr. Jobs smart? Not conventionally. Instead, he was a genius. That may seem like a silly word game, but in fact his success dramatizes an interesting distinction between intelligence and genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. They were sparked by intuition, not analytic rigor. Trained in Zen Buddhism, Mr. Jobs came to value experiential wisdom over empirical analysis. He didn’t study data or crunch numbers but like a pathfinder, he could sniff the winds and sense what lay ahead…
Mr. Jobs’s intuition was based not on conventional learning but on experiential wisdom. He also had a lot of imagination and knew how to apply it. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Einstein is, of course, the true exemplar of genius. He had contemporaries who could probably match him in pure intellectual firepower when it came to mathematical and analytic processing…but no one had the imaginative genius to make the full creative leap at the core of their theories, namely that there is no such thing as absolute time and that gravity is a warping of the fabric of space-time…
Einstein had the elusive qualities of genius, which included that intuition and imagination that allowed him to think differently (or, as Mr. Jobs’s ads said, to Think Different.)’ The Genius of Jobs Walter Isaacson
These people reaching out to me also have deep passion and empathy and a great sense of responsibility; they have a lovely and gentle humility…what I call reluctant leaders i.e. they are not doing it for glory and ego… and finally they know they want to live an extraordinary life: a life full of meaning and purpose. These are the future movers and shakers and Steve Jobs spoke to them. He was a visionary leader, and this was their call to arms: ‘Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. You somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’
This is the essence of leadership. It is the invitation to stop being the ‘good, or conversely, bad boy/girl’, to stop being a victim, to stop taking the easy, quick-fix route and to begin taking responsibility for our own life, our own truth. This is how great leadership vision is created.’ The Courage to Fall and Fly: a call to lead an extraordinary life.
Twelve years later, I reflect on how much has changed. How what I was once terrified of now brings me not only joy and fulfilment but also great business. As many times before and since, that one courageous step propelled me onto a trajectory that transformed my life in unexpected and extraordinary ways.
And now my son is living in New York with his new wife and this city has become even more integral to my life. As I look back at 2023, my overall wish for ‘love, sparkle and great magic’ really did come true.
My festive season starts with Thanksgiving and continues through December celebrating Winter Solstice, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and culminating with the Epiphany on 6th January. It’s all about creating the magic and ultimately, it’s about love: giving and receiving love. That’s what real magic is.
And my overall flavour/tone wish for 2024? I wish us all a very merry festive season leading to a 2024 rich with pure love, magical sparkle… and joyous fun!
Hannah Elizabeth Greenwood