It’s that time of year again when I choose three words to define the year ahead and guide me through the next twelve months. It’s a tradition that Chris Brogan started a few years ago and something I’ve continued since I began in 2011.
Whilst New Year resolutions are all well and good, many are doomed to fail, often becuase they are either too vague or completely unrealistic (e.g. “I will give up chocolate completely in 2014!”). However, although I will be making a list of New Year resolutions, I’ll be using my three words as more of an overarching guide for my behaviours and actions in 2014.
Before I unveil my three words for 2014, I’d like to look back and review my three words for 2013:
Being inquisitive ensures that we stay alert to change and are able to spot and leverage new opportunities.
In 2013 I tried to remain inquisitive by not only reading and keeping up-to-date with information specific to my job and industry but also from a variety of other sources completely unrelated to what I do for a living.
My hope is that by remaining curious about the world around me I can take learnings from what others are doing that can be integrated into my own life.
Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important knowledge and it’s something that’s always resonated with me. As human beings we have the ability to create endless possibilities using our imagination and it’s the key to many of the great innovations and developments the world has seen.
To keep my imagination alive in 2013 I tried to remain inquisitive (see above), stay as open-minded as possible and learn about how people within the arts and sciences think and act to make the most of their imaginations.
In 2013 I also read my first fiction book since 2010. For three years I’d been so immersed in non-fiction and studying my craft that I’d forgotten the joy and benefits of really good, imaginative storytelling. I find that great fiction allows one to see first-hand what the power of imagination can produce.
Developing a craft takes time, hard work and effort. To see a craftsman in action, be it a carpenter, tailor, artist or musician, is truly a thing of beauty.
Last year I attempted to develop my expertise by reading more quality content from a wide range of sources. These included great articles and studies from the Harvard Business Review, super blog posts from opinion leaders and classic books by authors including Malcolm Gladwell and the late Stephen R. Covey.
I also worked on my expertise by writing, notably on my own blog and externally for Smart Insights. I find that writing forces me to think deeply and analytically about a topic. Plus the thought that hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people might see what I have to say means that I have to produce content to as high a standard as possible.
Although the three words I set each year are specific to a particular year, all the previous ‘three words’ (which have included Create/Ship/Improve and Focus/Confidence/Energy) are still extremely meaningful and something I will continue to use to help guide and shape my life.
However, for 2014 my three words to live by are:
Whether online or offline, I believe it’s important to develop networks of trusted friends, allies, colleagues and fellow enthusiasts to stay in touch with changing trends and to progress as an individual.
Whilst I developed my expertise in 2013 by researching, reading and watching other experts on my own, to truly develop as a person and as a marketer I need to work more with others and to contribute more to groups and networks. By doing this I’ll be able to develop my expertise as, improve my inquisitiveness and imagination and hopefully add value to other people’s lives, too.
When I say ‘exercise’, I am referring to the focused improvement of both physical and mental skills and abilities.
Physical exercise is a common New Year’s resolution but often fails once the initial excitement in January wears off. Goals are often vague and focus is soon lost. However, I will be making sure that my physical exercise goals are SMART and measured intermittently throughout the year to ensure I remain focused on exactly what I want to achieve.
I will apply the same structure to my mental exercise. To continue refining my craft and expertise, I will set goals based around what I want to read (both fiction and non-fiction), write, research and apply in my day-to-day life, both professional or personal.
There is always a danger that we can become consumed by the amount of noise and distractions omnipresent within our hectic lives. There is always so much to do, so much we need to be achieving to stay ahead of the curve and to reach the next milestone.
Whilst I do want to achieve good things in my personal and professional lives, I have learnt that sometimes I need to relax in order to take stock and reflect on where I am and what I may need to do next. Time needs to be taken to appreciate appreciate and enjoy what we’ve already got.
So as hard as I’m planning to work this year, I’m also going to take time to stop and relax. Maybe that way I’ll be more refreshed so I can continue taking on new challenges with enthusiasm and commitment!