It felt like I did a lot in 2015. And while the year itself was full of great memories, it doesn’t really mean anything unless I can learn something and grow to make 2016 even better.
The 7 most valuable lessons I learned this year
During the year I kept a note in Evernote that had a running list of things I had learned during the year. Some are practical, while some are more philosophical. I wrote down a lot more than just these 7 things, but these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me.
Prioritize and execute
If you know anything about me, you know that I am a bit of an organizational freak. So I’ve got the prioritize part down. However, the change from employed to self-employed earlier this year exposed the lack of emphasis on execution.
It’s not that I wasn’t executing at all, but that I was spending so much time on prioritizing and getting organized.
A while back my wife and I read this book, which essentially said stop spending so much time figuring out the best or most optimal thing to do, and just do something.
The one thing
The first time I ever heard about “the one thing” was about 20 years ago when Curly (Jack Palance) told Mitch (Billy Crystal) about the secret of life. I was about 10 at the time, so knowing the secret of life took a back seat to building a fort in the woods down the street, or playing baseball.
Then a few months ago I listened to a Tim Ferriss interview Charles Poliquin on his podcast. While most of the podcast was about training elite athletes, there was one thing Poliquin said that struck me.
Greater discipline is greater freedom
This idea came from another Tim Ferriss podcast when he interviewed Jocko Willink (aka The Scariest Navy SEAL Imaginable).
It breaks down like this…
Accomplishing your goals will inevitably yield to more freedom (unless you have bad goals). So, creating boundaries or discipline in which to achieve these goals can only do the same.
It can be simple things like forcing yourself to get in that 30 minute workout when all you’d rather do is sit on the couch. This in turn puts you in a better position 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years down the road to live how you want.
If by Rudard Kipling
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
It’s okay to dream and think, but when they alone become the end result then you’ve already failed.
We are all fighting silent battles
I get aggravated easily. It’s something I really, really need to work on.
I was watching The Big Short just the other week when Steve Carell’s character was talking to his wife as he walked through New York and said, “Honey it’s a shit storm out here and everyone is walking around like they are in a gosh dang Enya video.”
Sometimes I imagine people really don’t care about the others around them. But a lot of the time I think their minds are consumed with the battles they are fighting in their own lives. The battles we never see.
Say I love you first
This last thought (also from a Tim Ferriss podcast) goes hand in hand with the one above.
Whitney Cummings admitted the same thing as Steve Carell’s character in The Big Short, in a little more forthcoming manner. Essentially people bug the living daylights out of her sometimes.
It could be the way someone poured her coffee, or rang up her groceries, or looked at her as they passed on the street. One thing she figured out was instead of immediately condemning or judging someone for a particular action, of which you know nothing about their motivation, first (silently) say I love you.
This puts you in the right mindset to interact with that person.
Be honest, but be bold
Lastly, above all else, be honest with yourself.
I learned this the hard way when I planned way too much work day in and day out, and failed to achieve a lot of it.
Don’t misunderstand me though. Being honest doesn’t mean setting small goals so you can achieve them. It still means reach for the stars, but perhaps not every single day.
What is one thing you learned in 2015? Let me know in the comments below.