10 Tips to Wrap Up 2017 and Giving Yourself the Best Holiday Gift Ever!

Inside the Producer’s Corner with Suzanne Lyons

This is a series of articles that film producer and best-selling author Suzanne Lyons (listen to her interview here) will be writing over the next 6 months. I personally asked Suzanne to share her knowledge, experience, and motivation with you the IFH Tribe. Whether you are a director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter or editor I think you’ll get a ton out of this series. Check back every week for a new post that will help you on your journey as an indie filmmaker.


10 Tips to Wrap Up 2017 and Giving Yourself the Best Holiday Gift Ever!

For those of you who know me, you’re well aware that this is my favorite time of year. We’ve had Thanksgiving and now Christmas and Hanukkah, and we’re about to welcome in the new year! I love this magical holiday season.   A time for family, friends, and food… giving and receiving… completion, contribution, acknowledgment, creation and of course, FUN!

Because the end of the year is drawing near, it’s time to take a look back at 2017.  I think what I’m about to give you in this article may be the best gift you’ve received during this entire holiday season.  “10 Tips to Wrap Up 2017… Giving Yourself the Best Holiday Gift Ever!”

Much of the information you are about to read is taken from a workshop called Launching the Future that I have led with my former business partner, Heidi Wall, as part of the Flash Forward Institute for many, many years.

As I do in the workshop, I am going to be dividing the information into two sections.  This article (Part I) will focus on completion and the next article (Part II) will be about designing and creating 2018.  I truly believe that the main reason we don’t achieve our goals, realize our dreams and fulfill on our vision, is because we jump right into Part II… designing, creating and generating, without completing!

I know what you’re thinking… completing makes you uncomfortable.  When we are complete… really complete, it brings up what’s next, it causes us to move on and deal with the unknown.  What’s next is unfamiliar and that can be scary.  But, the magic it creates is well worth the risk!  We tend, perhaps unconsciously, to gloss over the past year (or years!) ignoring our incompletions, disregarding our accomplishments, overlooking the places we’ve gotten stuck.  We think we can just move forward on top of all of it!  Sorry folks… not going to happen.  It would be like asking Picasso to paint on top of a Van Gogh.

I’m going to give you the tools to comfortably, willingly and graciously complete the past year (or years) and then, and only then, will you get to generate and design 2018 from a blank slate.   Enjoy!

1)   TAKING STOCK

Take a thorough serious look at your year.  Go through your calendar, day timer, diary, etc.  See where you are out of communication, out of touch, and out of integrity with colleagues, family and friends.  Make a complete list.

2)   COMMUNICATION

Take your list and write up what you would need to do or say to clean things up (to be complete).  I am not saying that you have to take the actions.  You can take the actions if you want to, but often just the act of acknowledging what is incomplete will have the issue disappear.

3)   YEAR END REVIEW

Now, go back through your year and take note of all the projects, areas and anything from your “To Do” list that is incomplete or unfinished.

4)   BEING COMPLETE

Take the above items and write out what actions you could take to be finished or be complete.  Once again, it is up to you whether or not you take the actions, but in order to be complete with 2017, it is important to take note of the above and acknowledge what is left unfinished.

5)   ACCOMPLISHMENT

Now it’s time to brag!  I love this part.  Go through your year again and this time make a list of all of your accomplishments… no matter how small you think some of them might be.  All too often we focus on what’s wrong, what we didn’t get done or what we should have done.  So now I want you to focus on everything you accomplished. Claim it!  Be proud of it!  Take joy and pleasure in it!

6)   ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

There are two sides to this one.  Giving and receiving.  Both are very important, and both are missing in our culture and our industry.  It is all part of being complete.  In all of 2017, what would you like to be acknowledged for.  For example,

“I would like to be acknowledged for sticking to my weekly exercise program.”  Or, “I would like to be acknowledged for showing up at every meeting on time.”

People say they don’t need it… it’s just not true.  We all need it and we love it and acknowledgment is all part of being complete.

Taking into account your entire year, write out a list of the things you want to be acknowledged for and share it with a friend.  Perhaps you could have a friend or family member do the exercise as well and that way you can share your lists with each other.  A friend of mine sits down with her family and does the accomplishment and acknowledgment lists every year on New Year’s Day… what a great gift!

7)   ACKNOWLEDGING OTHERS

Who do you want to acknowledge?  Make a list and include the acknowledgment in calls, emails and in person.  Acknowledge not only what they did, but also who they are for you and the difference they have made in your life. When my film partner and I sent out our holiday cards we did this for each person.  For example,

“As my script reader, I would like to acknowledge you for your great screenplay coverage.  You are more than a coverage expert to me.  Your commitment to excellence, your thorough work and your ‘going the extra mile’ attitude is something I truly admire and appreciate.  I go into every development meeting knowing that I have the best coverage possible and it puts my mind at rest.”

Practice acknowledging others on a daily basis.  It will feel really really good.  A win/win for everyone.

8)   EXPECTATIONS

A friend of mine once said that “human beings are walking expectations just waiting to be unfulfilled”.  So that said, what about enjoying the season with your friends and family with absolutely no expectations at all!  Just allow them to do what they do and be who they be and have no reaction.  Just keep falling in love with them over and over again no matter what.  Wouldn’t that be a fun adventure to take on?

9)   APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE

There is a great quote by Melody Beattie where she says that “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  Create a list of all the wonderful things you appreciate and are grateful for.  Come up with at least 20 things today!  Look at this list every day and keep adding to it.

10)  CONTRIBUTION

The more complete you are, the more present you will be.  The more present you are, the more you are an opening for expansion.  Stagnation and mediocrity will occur as intolerable.  Your expansion will contribute to each and everyone one of us.

Since this is the season for giving, the greatest gift you can give is yourself… your time, your love, your kind words, your ongoing commitment to be an example for humanity… bringing excitement, possibility, joy, love, and passion to everything you do and everyone you touch!

PREVIEW FOR PART II:

What is great about Part II is that YOU get to design YOUR year.  If you are not putting yourself in charge of YOUR life and career and literally creating YOUR future, you will always be at the effect of what is going on around you.  So, my next article, “Ten Tips to Having Your Best Year Ever!” will be about designing and creating from a truly blank slate.  From there, magic will happen.  You’ll be freed up to dream big, to have fun, to lighten up, to design the life you want and love.  The “10 Tips” will help you invent an inspiring blueprint that propels you into action and impacts the results you will achieve all year! Stay tuned.

BONUS:

I was re-watching the Commencement Speech that actor, Jim Carrey gave to the graduating class of MUM University in 2014 and I thought it might be fun to share part of it with you.  He says,

You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall.”

I think this might be a great place to stand when you’re doing these exercises.  Be your authentic self while doing this work.  Be truly honest with yourself and stand in your commitment and not your identity.  “Let your armor fall” and leave your ego at the door.  I promise you that doing the completion exercises from there will be one hundred times more powerful.

Here are a few paragraphs from his speech:

“I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, like my dad.  What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. 

Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart. My choosing to free people from concern got me to the top of a mountain. Look where I am — look what I get to do!

Everywhere I go – and I’m going to get emotional because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me — I did something that makes people present their best selves to me wherever I go.  I am at the top of the mountain and the only one I hadn’t freed was myself and that’s when my search for identity deepened.

I wondered who I’d be without my fame. Who would I be if I said things that people didn’t want to hear, or if I defied their expectations of me?  But you guys are way ahead of the game. You already know who you are and that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself.

You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.”


Suzanne Lyons is President/Producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. having produced/exec produced 12 feature films to date. She co-founded the Flash Forward Institute which focused on teaching the tools of business needed to market oneself in the entertainment industry. She’s the author of Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking published by Focal Press. She has also hosted over 125 informational videos on the film industry. When time permits she does private career and business coaching.  Suzanne is originally Canadian and lives with her husband in Los Angeles, CA.    

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