I spent the better part of last week in the frigid north known as Minnesota working with a new client for an incredibly productive five days. It turned out to be a great way to help the team make their goals, and leave for their winter holidays with a clear conscience and a dynamic path to start 2017.

Each day on my drive from the hotel to my client’s office, I saw a rather large sign on the street:

“Hats – Cleaned and Blocked"

The first day I thought it was interesting but by the third day I was curious. Is there really enough demand for hat cleaning and blocking that it is the PRIMARY service this business advertises?

Yes, apparently there is.

I suspected this was some type of dry cleaner and typed in that phrase to Google. Sure enough, it came right up. Specializing in restoring and cleaning hats, “hats – cleaned and blocked” is prominent on its website. In fact, hat cleaning and blocking is an actual title of services in the hat restoration and dry cleaning industry.

There was a time in our history where every man (and many women) wore hats daily. So, I would imagine having a local hat cleaning service was important – just like dry cleaning your suits and coats. But today, most of us do not wear hats and the need for your local hat dry cleaner has diminished. However, this sign was so prominent that it is all I saw in driving past this business each day. Sure, it is a regular dry cleaner but their commitment to cleaning and restoring hats tells me that they have a unique or special service that most likely translates to EVERYTHING they do. So, in addition to trusting them with a hat – I’d also feel pretty good about sending them a coat or a suit.

I’ve thought about this sign all week and the power of a simple phrase and intention.

In addition to celebrating the end of the year holidays, I will leverage these last few days to reflect on this past year as well as create a vision on what I want to accomplish for 2017, both in my business and personal life. These are not typical New Year’s resolutions but concrete actions, feelings and thoughts that will drive the outcomes I want to see and experience.

Which is why “hats – cleaned and blocked” has been tucked in the back of my mind all week. What if in our business (and our personal lives) we extracted and communicated what was most important, most necessary or most unique of who we are or what we do?

Having specificity in intention, words and deeds is the most powerful guide to achieving our goals and dreams.

This is how I know. This year I achieved more in my personal and professional life than I ever have in any other year so far. These accomplishments include radically changing my business model, acquiring new clients, and offering more services than I thought possible while having more meaningful time in my personal life. I also achieved a lifelong dream of writing and publishing my first book which led to new clients and opportunities such as over a dozen speaking and podcast appearances that weren’t even on my radar a year ago. And I lost almost pounds – without really thinking about food.

How did this happen?

Last year, I vowed to forego traditional New Year’s resolutions and enact a daily practice to support and shape my 2016 success. They were:

1.      Chose “Curiosity” as a guiding word to remind me to ask more questions and reignite my natural curiosity for learning that I had as a child. (There are many tools to select a “Word of the Year” but I’ve used Christine Kane’s with great success here.)

2.      Identified three feelings I wanted to experience each day – joy, sense of accomplishment, connection to friends and family and then tracked my ability to create those feelings through my daily planning process. (I have to admit that this was a mishmash of techniques from several different coaches that I follow. But the basic premise is “How Do You Want to Feel Each Day” and hold yourself accountable to create that feeling state for yourself. For a more detailed approach, check out Danielle Laporte here.)

3.      Wrote a “precap” letter on how I wanted to feel about what I had accomplished at the end of 2016 in great detail. A “precap” is like a recap but done a year in advance. To do this, a good friend of mine and I each wrote precap letters to each other LAST December dated December 31, 2016 on what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to feel at the end of 2016. (This was inspired by Susan Hyatt’s blogpost here.) 

Did I do everything perfectly? Hell, no! Did I stumble and fall? Absolutely!

But it worked so well, I’m committing most of the next week to the finishing touches of this same process for 2017 with the addition of something I’m calling the “Hats – Cleaned and Blocked” Clarity Test – deep intention, less words, more clarity.

Better life.

Happy New Year!