2017 was my most difficult year professionally, and personally in many ways. It was my year of wrestling with the angels, and I think in many ways I am still fighting. As the year wound down, I realized how much of the year was wasted; time, resources, focus, and worry were areas I could never seem to get a handle on.
Like many of you reading this, I have tried various things in the past to gear up for a ‘new year’ in the past, only to watch those things fade away. Resolutions, focus words, and all the rest never packed much of a punch for me. So this year, I am taking a different approach, practically and emotionally.
In my frustration with how my year went, I decided to forgo the normal traditions of a new year resolution and wrote out my thoughts in a blog post that I’m linking here. https://bobbyshawconsulting.com/2017/12/28/what-if-next-year-was-your-last-year/
The premise is, what if this year was my last year? I don’t wish that of course, and I hope it’s not. But what if it was? What if every conversation with my wife and kids that happened this year was the last time I could invest in them? What if every relationship I had hinged on this being the last year that I could cultivate that relationship? What if every decision felt the weight of this being my last year on this spinning ball of dirt?
This approach has had a profound effect on me even in the first 5 days. I believe taking this view on my year will be a healthy, cathartic process for me to work through, and there’s much work to be done. For so long, my sense of self-worth has been tied to whatever role I was in as a leader and with that stripped away for almost the last 12 months, and the stress around trying to be a solopreneur, it’s created some strife in my own mind and has affected my ability to be the husband and father I want to be. So, I am also trying to get healthy and stay healthy. For them, and for me.
Practically speaking, the annual planning process we all go through has lost is luster. I think that when individuals (and organizations) try to plan their entire year out, their vision gets blurry. The actual vision can be clear, but the action steps that need to happen to accomplish the vision can get muddied very quickly as real life intrudes, and then we simply give up, or chalk it up to a lost resolution. So, I’m taking the approach of the 12-Week year, which breaks the overall aspirational vision into (4) 12-Week years to execute on key personal and professional goals but shortens the timeframe to keep the sense of urgency high, versus rationalizing that if you missed a target you still have 11 months, 10 months, 9 months left, etc. This approach is intriguing to me so I am giving it a whirl. I also like that there is 1-week in between the (4) 12-Week periods to celebrate the successes and refocus.
Personally we have big changes on the horizon. We are downsizing this year. With the kids getting bigger and embarking on their own lives, we just don’t need as much house space and in the spirit of being a good steward, I want to make sure we have the right living space. That brings its own set of challenges around purging and minimizing which we desperately need to do. I feel as if sometimes I am drowning in the life I’ve created and I do not want to feel that way any longer.
For me, knowing something and doing something are two completely different things and I want to move from knowing to doing. I’ve journaled the last few days that this year feels different already. It’s not that all that much has changed in 5 days, of course. But I’m changing. Slowly by slowly. It’s simple things. Small wins. Forward progress. It all matters. Everything matters. Every word has weight.
If this is my last year, then I want it to count. I want to leave it all on the field. I want to leave a legacy that is rooted in the things you can’t hold in your hand, but rather feel in your heart. My desire is to look back on 2018 and see a life-well lived that made a positive impact on all those I had the opportunity to encounter, and have no regrets. That would make it a very happy new year indeed.