Four years ago, I threw myself into Chris Bogan’s Brave New Year programme. And, ever since immersing myself in that process, in early January of every year I take myself through an exercise to think about the year ahead: what I want from it, what it wants from me; where I fit into the world that will unfold with the passing of each day, and how I will walk through each of those 365 days that lie ahead, so that I can be, and become, the man I aspire to be.
Out of that exercise, comes three words to guide me. Not phrases or statements, but individual words. Each of those three words acts as an anchor and a signpost, keeping me grounded in the present, and pointing me towards the future. On each of my devices, I make them my screensaver, my wallpaper, and my lock-screen. I leave myself no opt-outs, no excuses to conveniently forget when the going gets tough, no escape routes.
And, for me, at least, it works. It’s an exercise that shapes a paradigm for me to live by and provides a framework for every significant decision I take.
This year, the exercise took me longer than usual. I had a lot to digest from the year just past: events that tossed me this way and that, and experiences that rocked me, as well as those that made me soar. And, while my three words for 2016 had done their job, guiding me through the ups and downs of that year, I needed to take time to learn from those events and experiences, both the good and the bad, and ensure that I didn’t repeat the same mistakes again.
And, out of that exercise, the three words emerged to guide me through 2017?
**Diligence. Value. Present. **
If I learnt anything from the experiences of 2016, it was to be less trusting. That’s not the negative backwards step it may sound like, though. You see, with hindsight, I had been too quick to take at face value people I did not truly know. I had invited some of those people into projects and endeavours I was pioneering, and in some cases, that openness and willingness to trust came back to bite me. Big time.
Through not being diligent enough in terms of which new faces I did business with, I lost large chunks of time to anger and frustration, which was a waste of my emotional, spiritual, mental, and maybe even physical, resources. I know that I do not have spare capacity in any of those resources, and I most certainly do not have time to waste, so spending time angry and frustrated in 2017 is not an option.
And so, diligence will be my first watchword for 2017. I will be more cautious about who I open up to, who I invite into my vision, who I work with. And, as a result, better outcomes will follow – not just for me, but for the people I do, and do not, align myself with.
As I went through my three-words exercise, I was also struck by how easy it is to undervalue, even devalue, who you are, and what you do. I had done it to myself time and again throughout 2016 – failed to see the worth I could bring. And, if I cannot see my own value, how can I help others to realise theirs?
Mentally tracking through the previous year, I isolated situations where I had backed down, withdrawn, or compromised. In some instances, those had been the right responses. But, in some of those situations, my backing down, or withdrawing, or compromising, had not been the right thing to do. Instead, I should have recognised the value I brought to the table and stood firm. I should have fought my corner.
So 2017 will be a year that I value myself. And, through recognising my own value, I will empower those around me to recognise their own value.
And, in revisiting the experiences of 2016, I came to another realisation. And this realisation, sadly, was not limited to 2016, but extended as far back as I could recall: it was the realisation that I have spent to much time ‘here, but not here’. I have not been present.
In all of the busyness, too often I have been caught up in the doing, and, while that got a lot of necessary stuff done, it also removed me from truly appreciating the wonder of this incredible story unfolding around me. I realised I had been at, but not in, so many events throughout my life. Events that were good, that were special, and that brought me joy and created memories, but that could have been much, much richer had I taken a moment to be fully present.
Therefore, in work, at home, and at play, I will be present, so that I can truly immerse myself in the wonder of this adventure I find myself in.
So there you have it. No profound statements. No unattainable goals. No ill-conceived resolutions. Just three simple words to guide me through the next leg of my adventure.
Give it a go yourself, I think you may be surprised by what unfolds.