If you’ve read my article “2017: The Power of 1“, you know exactly why everyone is so excited. 2+0+1+7 = 10, and 1+0 =1, making 2017 a “1 Year” in the context of numerology. We are about to embark on an all new 9 year cycle, and that is refreshing after all we’ve experienced from 2008 to 2016.
Since one article was not enough, I have written a second article,
a list of “10 Ways to Win 2017!” according to me: Nicholas Dumas Dillihay.
- Establish A Motif
“Motif” might be my favorite word. I learned it from my first dance teacher, Ms. Lisa, in 11th grade. Ms. Lisa shared with us how she used motifs to guide and inspire her choreography, and she encouraged us to do the same. So, what is a motif exactly?
The way I see it, a motif is a big idea that brings focus to a creative work through the use of repetition and variation.
Out of all years, a “1 Year” like 2017 is perfect for maximizing a big idea. When faced with a blank canvas, however, we sometimes tend to complicate a process that is best kept simple. I think establishing a motif is the smartest way to clarify and cultivate a creative intention.
Imagine I’m a choreographer whose resolution in 2017 is to create a dance that captures the essence of pregnancy. Pregnancy is now my motif, so I might have my dancers start off on the floor in fetal position, revisiting this move periodically throughout the duration of the piece to convey life in the womb. Whenever I’m at a loss, which is inevitable for most artists, I can always return to some variation of that same fetal position, as well as any other action that evokes the pregnancy motif to which I committed myself in the very beginning.
What if I don’t consider myself an artist, but my 2017 goal is to be taken more seriously by colleagues, superiors, and/or potential employers? With professionalism as my motif, I might update my wardrobe to include a couple nicely tailored suits and a briefcase to replace my amateur-ish backpack. I’d most definitely streamline my resume and update my LinkedIn profile, in addition to cleaning up my other social media pages to reinforce my professional image. Instead of reading trivial fiction, I’d be ensconced in business-oriented self-help books from reputable masters. If I’m feeling super ambitious, I would go as far as enrolling in a specialized class to sharpen my skillset and show off my certificate when I graduate. See how much can be done with one singular motif?
A motif is specific, yes, but there is freedom in that specificity that keeps it from getting boring or redundant. Motifs are focused but expansive at the same time because they force us to take consistent and relevant (but slightly varied) action, and this is why a motif can eventually lead to the solidification of a successful lifestyle. While everyone else is setting the same old superficial, flash in the pan New Year’s resolutions, you might just achieve better success by establishing a motif that speaks to the highest intention of your soul.
- Say “Yes, and…”
The first rule of improvisation is to say “yes, and…”. When improvising (both on stage and off), amateur improvisers have the tendency to negate the information they receive from their partners, a natural reaction when one doesn’t know what’s coming next or how to follow up something unexpected. In other words, the amateur, in so many words, says “no” because it’s a safe response. It’s human nature to fear the unknown and to stick steadfastly to the regularly scheduled program, but imagine how many extraordinary opportunities have gone to waste due to the amateur’s aversion to unscripted interactions. When the amateur improviser learns to say “yes, and…”, however, a new world of possibility is allowed to flourish.
My favorite class as an acting major in college was Improv 101, which is where I learned this invaluable rule. Even in the real world, when I am not engaged in an actual performance (although I love drama), I remember the importance of saying “yes, and…” How exactly can this be applied off the stage you ask? Here’s how…
My coworker at The Spa comes in on her day off to enjoy what we call a Team Massage. When she comes to check out, I ask her if she wants me to charge her card on file. “No, use my other card,” she responds sarcastically.
My instinct is to shut her down by exposing her superficial thought process (she obviously forgot she has the option to pay cash). Instead, I “yes, and…” her.
“Okay, I’ll charge your other, other card,” I joke back at her, with a wink and a nudge. I add, “Did you want to leave a tip?”
As you can see, I sublimated my egotistic need to explain myself, which would’ve created an awkward, unnecessary exchange. Instead, I kept it light with someone who’s not that important in the grand scheme of my life (and I may or may not have written her off in my mind as presumptuous smart-ass). Crisis averted.
Whatever I do once I’ve had the chance to privately process what happened is my own business, but in the moment, I was able to think successfully on my feet by simply saying “yes, and…”. The trick is to use your sense of humor to get you through the moment, because taking yourself too seriously makes you an easy target. As I have demonstrated, this technique can be used to deflect unexpected snark in the real world, but it can also be helpful in any other non-shady situation in your day to day life that happens to catch you off guard.
If I know anything about numerology, 2017 will be full of unanticipated moments that warrant knee-jerk “no” responses. If we wish to make the most of this new beginning, however, we’ll learn to say “yes, and…” to achieve better results.
- Put Pen to Paper
How many ideas have gotten away from us because we never thought to write them down? Too many to count. If it comes into my mind and it is at all important or interesting to me, I have learned to write it down immediately so that it always exists somewhere in my environment (either on a sticky note, in a notebook, or on any random napkin), even if it ends up temporarily slipping my mind. Plus, there’s something about putting pen to paper that increases the likelihood of manifestation. I believe that once it is written, it is real.
In addition to writing ideas, I encourage writing random thoughts, like a stream of consciousness. Influenced by Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”, I have adopted the ritual of writing Daily Pages (3 pages of free writing) each morning when I wake up.
- Develop A Ritual
Speaking of ritual, there is power in taking your favorite, most effective practices, and making them into a regular routine. I find that ritual builds a certain momentum, and it keeps me on the path of personal refinement. Practice makes perfect!
Here is my morning ritual I established in 2016 that I will definitely take with me into 2017:
- I wake up
- I write my “Daily Pages”
- I pour libations to my ancestors
- I drink a cup of hot tea with some lemon or lime
- I activate the 4 elements of my ancestor altar (light the candle, refill the water, polish the crystals, burn the incense) and greet my dead relatives with a “good morning” and anything else that’s on my heart
- I draw my daily Tarot cards for clarity, guidance, and inspiration
- I pray for productivity (inspired by the idea of invoking The Muse as I read in “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield)
- I go to work
My ritual is mentally, physically, and spiritually rewarding. It prepares me for a productive day. It works for me.
Your ritual may be different than mine. And it probably should be.
- Leave The Past Where It Belongs
2016 is a “9 year”, the grand finale of the current 9 year cycle of numerology that started in 2008. Now, we prepare to start over again in “1 Year” 2017. Many of us are feeling reflective and nostalgic right now as we prepare to transition.
The past can be beautiful to remember, yes. There are plenty of joyful memories to recall. Besides, as they say, if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know where you are going. With that said, it is imperative that we leave all of the burdensome baggage we have been accumulating (especially baggage we picked up between 2008 and 2016) where it belongs: in the past.
One of my favorite New Year’s Eve rituals is to write down everything I wish to release and then burn the paper. I have done this alone, but I find it more profound when I burn my paper with friends and family. Fire is a purifying force, and it is usually free of charge, so there’s nothing stopping any of this. This exercise can be done on any occasion, but I think it will be particularly effective as we transition from 2016 to 2017.
- Recreate Your Look
“Out with the old and in with the new” is everyone’s best bet this year, but it’s not just about emotional baggage; this classic adage also applies to appearances. Now I’m not a materialistic person who shops for the latest clothes every season, but I’m ready to revamp my aesthetic in 2017. This isn’t superficial, but smart, as the most immediate and powerful way to introduce a big idea (or a motif) is visually. As Robert Greene says in the 48 Laws of Power, “Recreate Yourself”, “Enter Action With Boldness”, &”Create Compelling Spectacles”.
Shopping for a new look can be an overwhelming process for those of us who aren’t recreational shoppers, but here are some methods I am using to ease my own reinvention.
- Color Story
I learned the phrase “color story” when I worked as a keyholder at Hugo Boss. I loved how the visual merchandiser would mix and match the clothes according to the color story of that season to make different outfits. There were so many ways he could choose to mix and match the all the diverse pieces, but all the looks would form a cohesive unit because they were based on the same color story. A color story is kind of like the “motif” we discussed at the top of this list. When choosing a color story, be sure to consider the symbolism of the colors you include. Different colors elicit different emotional reactions, and this a power we can all use to our advantage. Oh, and if you care, Pantone’s color of 2017 is Greenery.
Old looks can pass for new looks when we update them with new accessories. A statement piece like a big, boldly colored hat, a versatile jacket that becomes a signature, or even a necklace with a Evil Eye pendant can revitalize an outfit that should otherwise be retired, or it can add the finishing touch to a completely new wardrobe.
This is pretty self-explanatory. A new hairstyle can work wonders and totally refresh someone’s image from tired and predictable to bold and exciting.
Whatever new look you come up with, make it drastically different, boldly symbolic, and be sure to commit to it 100%!
- Embrace: Mantra, Affirmation, & Prayer
Ever heard the phrase mind over matter? Of course you have. The way we talk to ourselves influences what manifests in the tangible, physical world. Words, whether thought internally or spoken aloud, have weight and affect reality, so why not think and speak words that ensure the utmost success and holistic well-being?
A mantra is a word or sound that can be employed to achieve an specific state. “Om”, for example, is supposed to be one of the most powerful sounds to intone in order to transcend worries, concerns, and stresses. Sometimes when anxiety rears its ugly head, I repeat the word “breathe” silently to myself as a reminder of the power of breath to ameliorate even the most problematic circumstance.
In my mind, affirmations are bit more complex than mantras, which are usually just one word. My favorite affirmations are the ones that begin with “I am…” My favorite part is filling in the blank with an adjective that will empower me in the moment. How you finish the sentence is up to you and what you’re going through in the moment. Be careful how you end the phrase, though, because it will come true for better or worse.
This one might push some buttons, but prayer doesn’t have to be religious if you don’t want it to be. To me, prayer is the act of spilling your heart and surrendering to a higher power, whether it is God, the gods, the creator, spirit, the universe, your higher self, your ancestors, nature, etc. Prayer is a request, yes, but it’s also giving thanks for all the blessings that have already been bestowed. Prayer is wishing wellness for oneself and for others. Most prayers are full of mantras and affirmations, but sometimes a prayer is a profound, nonverbal feeling that serves to activate and elevate the soul to a place of divinity.
To be honest, I think my favorite thing about embracing these mediums of communication and manifestation is how I am led to learn all the many definitions of a singular word. Sometimes I think I know the meaning of a word, and I might, but then I am surprised to find all the other meanings that I never knew about. Language is supremely fascinating.
- Defy Impossibility
Just because someone says something can’t be done doesn’t actually mean that it can’t be done. Now maybe that someone is speaking from personal experience, and truly believes they are saving you the trouble, but you are not them and they are not you. I think the best way to find out what is possible is go for it and learn from your own experience. That’s what I like to do.
I was in the airport last week waiting to board my flight back to my hometown in New Jersey for the holidays. I was in Group 5, so I had to wait a bit before boarding. As they were boarding Group 3, I wondered, “What would happen if I got in line with them?” To clarify, I’m not an impatient person, but I did want to hurry and stow my suitcase before all the overhead space was taken by the first four groups. I mean, who wants to pay for a checked bag when there is a free alternative, am I right?
If I were travelling with someone more cautious, or if I were a stickler for rules, I would’ve surely waited my turn. Since I was flying solo and I’m the type of person who likes to press my luck (I’m from Atlantic City… the other gambling town), I hopped in the middle of the Group 3 line. I figured if they questioned me, I’d just pretend I didn’t know and move on with my life. No harm done. In my heart, though, I had a feeling I’d be fine.
Turns out I was right. The lady ahead of me, who spoke no English, was forced to forfeit her seat by the emergency exit when she failed to consent to this big responsibility. Because of this lady’s language barrier, I inherited her super special seat. “And you’ll enjoy some extra leg room, sir,” said the guy who scanned my boarding pass without questioning me. Somehow I managed to get away with breaking the rules, and I was rewarded for my defiance with more room to stretch out my long legs on a long flight. The moral of this story is not so much about being a rule breaker as it is trusting your gut over all else, regardless of what anyone else says, thinks, or suggests. Just don’t hurt nobody.
- Share Your Work
In his book “Steal Like An Artist”, Austin Kleon dedicates an entire chapter to the secret of being “discovered”. The chapter is called “DO GOOD WORK & SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE”.
(It looks like he expounds upon this idea in another book of his called “Show Your Work“, although I haven’t had the pleasure of reading that one just yet.)
This seemingly simple idea turned my world upside down in the best way, and I started to realize exactly how well this has worked for some of my favorite public figures. I even see my own peers living out this secret.
As I type, an old friend from high school is posting part 39 of a story she recently began writing on Facebook, and she is receiving an impressive amount of feedback in the form of “likes”, comments, and demand for more chapters. It is obvious that she is not worried about finding an editor or looking for a publisher. To be honest, I don’t even know if she considers herself a writer. Even so, writing is a hobby she loves and by sharing her love on the internet with no expectations of fame and fortune, she’s actually attracted a larger following in less than 2 weeks than most self-proclaimed writers have in years! She’s just doing it for fun, but lord knows who will read her fiction and what opportunities will be presented to her as a result of this sharing. For all we know, she could be the next New York Times Bestseller if she keeps this up.
I love this secret so much that I’m thinking of printing this very article and passing it around town for people to pick up for free. I’ll be sure to add all my contact info for anyone who wants their own personalized consultation 😉
- Identify Yourself
Motifs can be unbelievably beneficial, but only if they align with something real and true in the heart of the individual who is using it. To help everyone choose the perfect motif, I have included 3 identification exercises. These exercises can be used to center oneself and awaken the core of being in whoever chooses to participate.
Here is the link. Enjoy the process, take your time, and be honest.
If you’ve made it this far, first of all – THANK YOU FOR READING! Second of all, congratulations… your life is about to change for the better 🙂 2017 is a rare opportunity to start all over and now you are empowered to transform this blank page into your magnum opus. Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best.
- With LOVE,