While I’m not a proponent of end-of-the-year goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions (as we should be constantly working these throughout the year), I AM a big fan of looking back and taking stock of the past 12 months. Regardless of whether or not it was a “successful” year, a “breakout” year, or a “shit” year, there’s tremendous value in stepping back and asking a big question, “What did I learn this year?”
Remember, no matter how the year shakes out for us, we can always be learning and growing. Always. In fact, we typically learn and grow the most from extremely difficult and challenging times. So if you find yourself feeling a little bummed out because it wasn’t “your best year yet”, it’s all good - as long as you pause and take something away from it.
So, as we wind down 2015 I thought I would share with you the three big things I learned this year.
Number 1: Be. Here. Now.
The great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”
Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on life?
With 79 events and 100+ nights away from home this past year I’ve definitely been there. There were times I would blink and three weeks would have literally flown by. Then, like all of us from time to time, I would say things like, “where the hell did the last week go?!”
People say as you get older time speeds up, as if our adult brains are somehow processing time differently than our younger brains.
You know why time feels like it’s flying by at a much faster rate than when we’re children? It’s because we’ve stopped being present for our lives. We’re operating on autopilot.
Our lives have become so routine and programmed that our unconscious mind takes over and we find ourselves sleepwalking through our days. Have you ever driven to work and pulled into your parking not remembering the drive? Me too. And we're not careful that forgotten drive to work can become a forgotten month, a forgotten year, a forgotten decade. But NOT anymore.
I don’t want to miss my life and I bet you don’t either.
Here are three simple words to check in with yourself throughout the day to bring a little mindfulness to the moment: be here now. Allow these words to help you step into the present, because only in the present moment are the opportunities to be remarkable made known.
Number 2: Cultivate Courage
For the first time in my speaking career, I started talking about courage this year. The funny thing is, it took courage to talk about courage. It was something that I felt really deeply about but the little voice in my head said it wasn’t “strategic” enough or “appropriate” for this audience. What will people think? Who am I to talk about courage?!
Here’s what I learned. The more I was courageous enough to speak what was in my heart and what I believed to be true, the more I was willing to be brave enough to try small things in other areas of my life that scared me.
I tell people all the time: courage is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it grows.
Don’t think for one single second you can’t be courageous; it just might be a muscle you haven’t used in a while. To get it back in shape you have to start using it.
I try every day to do one small thing that scares me. You can do this too. Find one thing that makes you a little bit uncomfortable every day and lean into it and watch your courage muscle grow. Maybe it's signing up for that acting class. Maybe it's speaking up in a meeting or maybe it's telling the loudmouth behind you in Seat 7A to lower their voice. Be brave and step up!
Lesson 3: Write it Down
This past week while home in MN, I came across my old journal from college. I discovered author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn when I was 19 and he inspired me to start journaling. Jim said, “A life worth living is a life worth recording.” I took that to heart my sophomore year of college.
It was pretty epic to flip back through and read what I was thinking about and working through at the time. I remember thinking back then that journaling was totally unnecessary, as I couldn’t imagine a time in the future when I would care about the details of the day or when I wouldn’t remember the moments that mattered. Funny how time changes that.
Now 10 years removed from my college days, I’m reigniting my journaling practice.
My good buddy and sometimes collaborator Ryan Estis turned me on to an awesome little journal called the The Five-Minute Journal and it’s perfect for those of us with busy, hectic schedules. Many of us feel like we don’t have time to write at length about the happenings of our day but here’s the good news: we all have five minutes to put towards this practice.
I started using it the beginning of December and it’s become a springboard for my 2016. Get it and get into it. I promise it will change your perspective and potentially change your life. Magic happens when we pause to put life in ink.
My biggest wish for all of us as we head into 2016 is to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
No one likes to do things that make us uncomfortable. Let’s order the bland-tasting salad instead of the cheeseburger. Study our craft instead of watching another series on Netflix. Avoid hitting snooze for the third time. And let us learn to embrace the suck that will get us from where we are…to where we want to be.
And if you’re ready for true mastery, see if you can learn to actually fall in love with the process, the "suck", of getting better each and ever day.
I wish for you my friends a TRANSFORMATIONAL 2016.