Themes for 2015

So I do not like New Year’s resolutions. I think most people who make them are asking for trouble. The new year is one of the few times that I encourage people not to be too specific with their goal setting (at least in January). Even for someone like me who likes concrete numbers, using the idea of themes has allowed me to be intentional about my year while remaining flexible and motivated.

I say make general goals or even better identify themes that you want to characterize the coming year. Once you get into the groove of working towards embodying the themes you have set, then maybe put some structure around it with specific levels you want to hit.

Below are a few of my themes for 2015. They all seems simple enough, but they signify what I hope will become powerful mental shifts that will provide a great foundation on which to build both my professional and personal futures.

1) Be a Beginner… Often

As I mentioned before, I think this is the biggest fear adults have whether it is a job, a hobby, a relationship… anything! There is a reason we tend to migrate towards what we are good at doing. It makes us feel good, allows us to create a hierarchy where we are at or near the top. The problem is that we don’t grow very much in that hierarchy.

Trying new things help us grow in almost every dimension while making life more all-around exciting.

I’ll admit some areas where I have thought about being a beginner again terrify me and others just make me slightly uneasy. The feelings can range from total anxiety to just feeling embarrassed that I’m not already adept at some area of my life or a skill I want to possess.

One upside to hating those feelings is that it motivates me to learn quickly. I don’t like to stay a beginner for long, so I become incredibly focused on what I have to learn to not feel that way ever again.

This blog is an example of me being a beginner.

My hope is that in 6-12 months I look back at this post and hate it because my writing has improved so much from when I first started.

2) Stop Comparing My Chapter 2 to Other People’s Chapter 20

I can feel all of you that just raised your hand in front of your computer and said, “I do that.” Well… I do it too. A LOT. It has to stop. It is one of the most destructive types of self-talk I can possibly engage in (not that there are good types of negative self-talk).

Like my about page says, I’m only 24 and yet I have been fortunate to experience a lot in a short amount of time. The downside that comes with that is I am surrounded by people who have accomplished great things in their lives and careers and I start going, “Wow! They’ve done _______ and I’m still stuck here.” The part I conveniently leave off in my head is that they’ve been doing it for 10+ years and they have spent hundreds and maybe thousands of hours to get where they are. That negative part of my brain also doesn’t take one second to acknowledge all of the hardships that they have endured and overcome to get where they are.

What I am aiming for this year is to take a better look at people’s complete journey (or as much as they are willing to share) and reinforce the idea of not expecting to get where people are if you aren’t willing to put in the work that they have.

This is where our society has really handicapped my generation. Nowadays, everything has a shortcut. What took 14 days, can now be done in 2 hours. Don’t play the whole game. Use these cheat codes and be done in 8 hours with all of the special powers and bonuses.

I try to remind myself that something cooked in a microwave for 2 minutes NEVER tastes as good as something that was made from scratch and cooked for 2 hours. Greatness in any regard requires persistence.

3) Execute Execute Execute!

Josh Long has a book on this subject that I highly recommend. I wish I had found it sooner.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had completely failed on follow through in most regards in 2014. This not only applies to stuff that was started and not completed, but stuff that was an “idea” and then never went anywhere. Most people (especially entrepreneurs) don’t need any more ideas. They need more execution. I’m no exception.

So one of my themes is executing on several ideas that I have documented in my Evernote and do it in such a way that I act before the objections pop up in my head (a key piece of advice from Josh Long’s book).

I’ve decided the cure for this “Shitty Follow Through” disease is massive action. Over the next few months, I will be rapidly completing several small projects just for the sake of completing them. The goal here isn’t perfection or making money or even making something pretty. The goal is simply to get them done.

Some of them might have the intention of making a few bucks, but most of them will just be an exercise in executing until I feel that I have this “disease” under control. I’m such a critic of people just putting more noise out into the world with what they put online or talk about, but I’m setting that aside for a few months to do these exercises.

More importantly than any of these being successful or even getting a second glance is 1) for me to restore confidence in myself that I know I do what I say I’m going to do, and 2) if I complete what I start, can I learn to be very selective about what those things are?

Even as themes, this is a big bite to take off for 2015, but I’m confident I’m up for the challenge and I look forward to reporting back as the year progresses.