Instead of Another Year in Review
During this time of year, we all tend to see countless reflections that usually fall into one of two categories:
- A never-ending list of personal achievements full of self promotion and #humblebragging, or;
- A fairly grim summary of the past year with a positive spin that is meant to motivate readers into the next year
It’s hard not to look back and comment on what went right and what went inevitably wrong using our own perspective. After all, it’s our perspective. We can all highlight the obvious misfortunes of 2016 with little to no effort. Hell, some of it won’t fully kick in until next year.
In an ongoing attempt to always provide as much value as possible, here is a list of lessons I learned the hard way during this past year of uncertainty, struggle, highs and lows, and everything else in between.
- Act with intention —This is my by far my biggest lesson from this past year. In the past, my follow through has been paralyzed thanks to overcommitting to too many projects. Over the past few years, I have become hyper-focused on executing and finishing…to a fault. After launching a few new endeavors this year, it became apparent that I was taking the shotgun approach rather than being laser-focused. I would launch and share certain things without implementing a strategy for sharing. Action will always be the most important thing, but being more intentional will help make that action smarter.
- Focus on both short and long term — It is all too easy to let immediate, day-to-day tasks get in the way of making actual progress. Whether you’re working on a personal project after hours or building your own business from the ground up, identify what is important versus what is urgent and always balance your short-term tasks with your long-term goals. This will help guide your work towards a future where you are in more control.
- Value everyone’s time equally — During this past year, I couldn’t help but notice a fairly common trend: everyone complains that they are “busier” than anyone else. I only started noticing this once I removed this word from my vocabulary. Personally, when I hear this complaint, the underlying message is never about time. It’s about a lack of priorities. Which leads me to my next lesson…
- Set priorities and you will have less to complain about — When working for yourself, setting your own priorities day-to-day is absolutely crucial. Even if you work for someone else, focused priorities help deal with a universal pain point: stress. In 2016, I had two vastly different types of days: 1) days where I took time to set priorities and saved energy for actual work, and 2) days where I didn’t make time to plan ahead, wasted time deciding what to work on, and felt like I was along for the ride.
- Put yourself out there and you will be surprised — I have no doubt that my biggest leaps in progress came directly after publishing an article, throwing an event, having coffee with a stranger, and countless other potentially uncomfortable situations. These moments of discomfort allowed me to learn more, broaden my network, and get valuable feedback from those that can actually help. In general, I believe that people will listen if you have something to say and say it.
- Give more than you take — This has become a popular piece of advice from most coaches, gurus, and leaders, but I feel like it still rings true. A lot of opportunities that came to me this past year all began with a simple question: How can I help you? Whenever I meet someone new or reconnect with someone from the past, I always focus on providing more value for them than I am asking for in return. Most times, I won’t even ask for anything. This may give me leverage eventually, but this doesn’t matter as much as helping others.
- Think about quality over quantity— I honestly believe this applies to every part of my life. Whether I am talking about the type of connections I make, the people I work with, or the projects I take on, this can’t be true enough. I have never had an issue with commitment, both in my personal and professional lives. In fact, I would say overcommitment has been more of a problem for me. I tend to go through periods of ebb and flow where I take on too many projects and then inevitably cut those that are not aligning with my long-term goals. This is great for my own sanity, but not so much for others who are relying on me. Try to commit to fewer things that align more with your personal goals and carry them through to the finish line.
- Share your ideas instead of your opinions of others — I’ve always tried not to talk about others behind their back. Not only does it spread negativity; it can create a reputation that you do not want preceding you. I think Eleanor Roosevelt said best when she said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Instead of connecting with others over a shared opinion of someone, try accomplishing the same goal with ideas. Not only will the conversation become more productive; it may even turn into a larger opportunity for you to collaborate with another like-minded person.
I hope you were able to find at least one helpful piece of advice in all of this. In my opinion, it’s never too early to share your story and pass along your experience to others. I would love to hear about your lessons from 2016 below in the comments or on Twitter at @williamfrazr.
If you did find insight in this article, please click the 💚 icon and share with friends so others can learn from my past experience.
Want more actionable advice for making ideas happen? The Imperfectionist is a good place to start!