It’s that time of the year and it feels like it has arrived here even quicker than last. As you wind down to celebrate the holidays and the year that has just passed, it’s always good to reflect and be thankful for the good, the bad and the ugly. I find it helpful to take the time to be grateful for the wins and losses throughout the year and to make sure I understand what worked, what didn’t and what I’m going to change in the year ahead. It’s a great way to make sure I appreciate life and all that it delivers.
One highlight from this past year was working with an amazing wine maker on the central coast of California to build a new brand of wine launching in 2014. It has often struck me how balanced his life looks, yet most of his success is dependent on many elements beyond his control. Like life, some years are just naturally better than others and some are even off-the-charts fantastic. While I don’t believe we’re in full control of all the conditions that affect our lives, we can—much like a wine maker—plant the right seeds, cultivate some of the right growing conditions and water each day with inputs that give us the best chance of making our life the best it can be each year.
As you look forward to 2014, think of it as a year that has the potential to be a Vintage year, one that’s going to be one of your best yet that you’ll look back at fondly. Think about what you want the year to look like, plot goals for each month and decide what you want to get accomplished by season or by quarter. Think about what you need to put into the year and what you need to stop and start doing. Write a manifesto, put up a year-board with milestones and march into the year prepared with the mindset that it’s going to be one of your best.
Unlike the winemaker and his dance with nature, we do control some of the most important conditions that affect our success each day. We control how we show up and participate in life every day. We can be ready to take on each day with a can-do, grateful attitude, aware of who and what’s going on around us. The old saying “you reap what you sow” is true, so I thought the following uncommon sense prompters for making the best out of life each day might help how you grow through life in the new year and make it a year to remember:
1. Find your purpose
Do you know what your purpose is? If you can’t answer that question, this is the year to figure it out. Explore and define your purpose so it can fuel why you get out of bed every day. Once you can answer that question with conviction, you’ll do everything else with a level of clarity, enjoyment and commitment.
2. Craft a cunning plan
Living life without a plan is like sailing the Pacific without a map—you could end up in North Korea. Map out what you’d like the quarters or the seasons of 2014 to look like and what it will take to get there. As George S. Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
3. Talk about ideas and not people
Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Aim for being great and talk more about big, transformational ideas in 2014. Make a list of the things you do that you waste time on every day and list what you’re going to do to change your behavior.
4. Start your day right and start it early
When I’m not traveling, I’m in the ocean at 6am surfing. It’s an amazing way to start the day disconnected from technology with time to think and enjoy the
5. Savor every day like it’s your last
Live in the now, because life is not a dress rehearsal. You can’t rewrite yesterday but you can live today like it’s the best day ever. Don’t cry over spilled milk, don’t wish things could have been different. Learn from your challenges and mistakes rather than dwelling on them.
6. Smell the roses and the coffee
Our days are moving at warp speed, time is standing still for no one and we’re more dependent on our connected technology devices than ever. Don’t let the beauty of a sunset, the smell of fresh ground coffee or the power of the wind pass you by without inhaling the moment. It’s the small encounters that make a brighter day.
7. Talk less and listen more
Let’s face it – most of us talk too much. Take the time to listen to others more intently this year. Honestly acknowledge others whether the conversation is good, bad or indifferent. Try to cut down on your verbal output; it’s amazing what you learn when you listen to others.
8. Join the Can-do Club
Can-do people inspire others and find ways to do the impossible. Negative people always create reasons why something amazing can’t be done. Look around at who’s on your team and decide what type of energy you want to create this year. Be genuinely excited for others, acknowledge their contributions, talents and success and remember it’s not a problem until it’s really a problem.
9. Embrace change like a baby
Change is one of the only constants in this life, so don’t fight it; embrace it for all that it can teach you. If you’re in a rut, bored and find yourself living a mundane routine, change your pace and create a life you’re proud to live.
10. Regular downtime is good time
Switch off and unplug the smart phone at least one day on the weekend so you can relax with a little down time to do absolutely nothing. Plan some regular alone time to think about the big picture.
11. If at first you don’t succeed, try like a barbarian
It’s far easier to give up when you hit the wall or land on your butt. Failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Keep trying until you get it right.
12. You reap what you sow
What you get out of this year is completely up to you. What you put in will impact what you get out of it. Ask yourself what type of person you want to be this coming year. Attitude is everything. It’s up to you to make it 2014 a year to remember, a vintage year for the books.
Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Sony, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, Kashi, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.
[Image: Flickr user Amodiovalerio Verde]