IT’S NEVER TOO LATE to make a New Year’s Resolution!

And one resolution we can all make is TO START!

Here are a couple of encouraging stories to get us on track in 2018.


AN OLD PENCIL MAKER took his newest pencil aside, just before he was about to pack it into a box. Imagining the little pencil as a person, he imparted the following wisdom insights to the pencil.

“There are five things you need to know,” he said to his pencil, “before I send you out into the world. Always remember these five things – never forget them – and you will become the best pencil you can be!

“The first thing is to remember that you will be able to do many great things, but only if you put yourself in someone else’s hands.

“From time to time you will experience a painful sharpening, but remember that this will make you a better pencil.

“Also, keep in mind that you will be able to correct any mistakes you might make along the way.

“And the most important part of you is what’s on the inside.

“And remember this as well; upon every surface that you are used, you must leave your mark. No matter what else happens, you must continue to write.”


THESE WISE WORDS may well have crossed the writing desk of JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, as she prepared to deliver her Commencement Speech for graduates at Harvard University on “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.

Rowling described how, seven years after graduating from university, her marriage had ended and she found herself a single parent, unemployed, and living in poverty.

In her own estimation, she considered herself an abject failure, yet sinking to rock bottom she found a new clarity and wisdom that changed her life.

In her speech, Rowling asked her audience:

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.

“Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life…”

(You’ll find Rowling’s full Address on TED at – )

 “REMEMBER THIS … no matter what else happens, you must continue to write.”

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to writing. We could also say “to act” or “to teach” or “to become a great lawyer, accountant, leader, president”;  whatever our inner call nudges us towards. Yet nothing happens unless we make that regular, daily appointment with ourselves, at the same time and place, without distractions, to work with our Muse.

If you only sit down to write when your Muse shows up,

you are working for your Muse.

If you do sit down to write, and your Muse doesn’t show up,

your Muse is working for somebody else.

If your Muse shows up when you sit down to write,

then you have a Muse who works for you!


Without a phone to interrupt, or a chore to finish that could be done at another time, make the main thing the main thing until it is accomplished. This is a process of  ‘stripping away the inessential.’

Sure, we are not equally gifted or successful in what we attempt. Some people have multiple gifts that they can turn to, and make any one of them a roaring success. But trying to do all of them at the same time risks  achieving nothing truly worthwhile; it all remains unfinished,under-achieved. and unsatisfactory.

Let’s reflect on this for ourselves a moment, on what may well be our most important question for 2018:

What is MY calling?

Wisdom says, once you have the answer, you MUST pursue it!