The decorations are put away, the Christmas sweets are all consumed, even the leftover turkey soup is probably on its way out. Tomorrow, millions of people will head back to regular life and work patterns, and as a result, millions of New Year’s resolutions will go by the wayside. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for that very reason. What I do, is make a “To Do List”. I LOVE lists. Have all kinds of them. Lists of phone calls to make, emails to send, and tasks to accomplish. I make lists in my head of blog posts I want to write. I make grocery lists, edit decision lists, and lists of books I want to read. You get the idea.

But, you may ask, what does one write on a 2009 To Do list? It could get very long and intensive. Well, it doesn’t have to be extensive. I’ve broken it in to three simple items.

Make an Effort to Connect with Your Online Network in Different Ways
I had a crazy realization the other day. I was about to jump on a conference call with my co-creative partners in the 12for12k Challenge, Danny Brown and Kathryn Jennex, when I realized that until that point, my entire friendship with Danny had been through text (I’d spoken to Kathryn at another point a few weeks back). In the 6 or so months we’ve been consipiring collaborating, we’d never spoken once in person! We’ve written blog posts together, he’s interviewed me for his blog, and we’d been working on 12for12k for weeks up till that point.

It’s not to say that text-based connections can’t work. After all, Danny and I have been able to not only accomplish a lot, but get to know each other as friends in the process. What I am saying is, it’s important, at some point in your relationship with others, to actually connect in person. This is not always possible because of geography. After our call that day, I felt even MORE of a connection with Danny and Kathryn.

So, in 2009, try to connect with some of your online network in different ways. Instead of Twitter or email, try a Skype call or Gmail Video Chat. It’s really amazing when you get to finally put a voice or face to a name. Maybe try to attend a couple of events or conferences. I have plans to go to Podcamp Toronto this year, and wild fantasies of going to SXSW. The very prospect of meeting some of my online friends face to face finally is very exciting to me! Can’t make it to a conference, or no time to schedule a call? Try a video blog. That’s right, set up your web cam and just press “record”. Say your next blog post instead of writing it. You’ll make a whole new level of connection with your audience. (Newsflash: Look for more video posts from yours truly this year!)

Find a Way to Make a Difference
I have a confession to make. I don’t really watch the news anymore. It’s too upsetting. I know, some people frown on folks like me who ignore the tragedies that are occurring in the Gaza strip, or the natural disasters that are occurring around the world, or the state of the economic crisis. But I just can’t accept that amount of negativity in my life. I read enough and hear enough to have a sense of what’s going on around me, what the underlying issues are. But I can’t stare hour after hour at images of bloodshed and heartache and worry. It’s not productive for me.

If you find yourself getting wrapped up in the problems of the world, I suggest taking a more proactive approach. Turn off the TV. Close the news web sites. And then, focus your energy on what you can do to make a difference.

There are so many great charities and causes out there, so many ways you can help, from being a foster parent (I am), to working with the homeless, to giving of your time and money to any organization that means something to you. If you are worried about the innocent children being affected by the atrocities of war, don’t feed into the negativity by watching endless news coverage. Go to War Child. Make a donation. Volunteer. Instead of making yourself sick with worry about those kids, do something that might just make a difference in their lives.

Not sure where to begin? What cause to choose? I invite you to check out 12for12k.org. We’re doing something really special over there, and it doesn’t take much to get involved.

No matter what cause you end up choosing the most important thing is to choose to make a difference.

Positive Thinking Works Magic
Okay, well you are probably thinking – oh my, she’s really gone off the deep end now. We’re about to get a lecture on positive thinking and laws of attraction and yadda yadda yadda. Well, before you reach for that unsubscribe button, hear me out.

There are times when I get really wrapped up in negative thoughts. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but it’s something I still struggle with, especially when I’m over tired, haven’t been eating well, or have been overly stressed. Here’s the problem with negative thinking, in my experience. It makes EVERYTHING worse. If I’m in a pissy mood, then everything becomes 10 times more frustrating. My computer crashes. My car won’t start. All my bills arrive in the mailbox on the same day. And it all just escalates.

However, if I stay focused and present and don’t spend all my mental energy thinking and worrying about thing that have happened in the past or might happen in the future, it’s like magic. I get the new contract. My mailbox has cheques in it. I get that email I’ve been waiting for. My morning coffee is extra-delicious. I have amazing conversations.

This year, put at the top of your to-do list that you are going to do everything you can to avoid getting trapped in negative thinking. It’s challenging this time of year, especially if you live up north like me. Lack of daylight and endless snow and cold are enough to drag anyone down. But try, try TRY to find the positive. The real magic of the universe will open up to you if you do.

That’s it! Three items. Hmmm – I guess that’s my three words, and I didn’t even know it till this very moment!

Connect. Difference. Positive.

Happy new year!