Another year passes and the wheel of time turns. Inexorably, inevitably and impersonally. For many of us it is a time when we reflect on the past year and gird our loins for the next. There is no natural reason for this reference to a spurious calendar embedded into our western consciousness and organisation by some medieval monk. For centuries we organised our years by the cycles of nature; by equinox and solstice, by season, growth and harvest. Still, it allows us the structure that we need in our ‘modern’ world for planning and organisation. Our frontal lobe is satisfied by this and our software applications are pure and blank, waiting to be filled with exciting and stimulating appointments and activities.
So, how are you going to fill in these spaces this year?
You may have already set your personal and business goals. You may have started that diet. You may have commenced that learning programme. You may have resolved that this year it will be different. And it will. It cannot possibly be the same. There will, however, be similarities.
Will there be political scandals and more MPs charged with various crimes against democracy? Very probably.
Will there be further extortions of the public at large by financial institutions without proper accountability and responsibility? Most likely.
Will thousands of acres of rainforest be felled – legally and illegally? Yes.
Will thousands of children die of famine, disease and drought whilst others gorge themselves into obesity? Yes.
Will we be peddled spin and rhetoric by fatuous politicians claiming that they we are all in it together? Undoubtedly.
Clearly I could go on – these predictions are not Nostradamian, merely guaranteed effects within societies that hold higher the price of things rather than the value of them. Obviously there will be more uplifting events too.
The person that you did not like before but now have grown more fond of will win ‘Strictly’.
There will be heroes and heroines breaking the mould and performing acts of exceptional human kindness and social impact.
There will be tales of bravery, goodness and altruism.
There will be more funny cats on YouTube to amuse and distract or a new series of your favourite sitcom.
There will be sunsets and parties. Love, life and laughter.
All of these things will happen so why will 2014 be different from 2013 for you? Does it need to be? Will you be satisfied with simply more of the same and if so, is that a bad thing after all? The answer, my friends, is very much down to you. Not necessarily because you will be one of those heroes or villains that flash across the media and human consciousness (but of course you may well be) but because just how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ this year will be is completely down to you. When you sit back in 12 months time and assess the relative success of 2014, it is you who will have set the goals, you who will have delivered them and you alone who will sit in judgement. It is you who will decide whether it was a better or worse year. It is you who will decide to be content or not, happy or not, frustrated or not. You are the cause and you will feel the effects.
So, before you get too embroiled in meetings and appointments, maybe it is worth stepping back, detaching and assessing what is really important for you because you may not be able to change the whole world at large but you are completely responsible for your own world. How and why? Well because what significance you attach to your life and work, the priorities that you set, the relationships that you wish to develop or drop and your respective emotional attachments to these external events are your own and only your own. Of course there will be set backs – someone will let you down – but there will also be progress and development. There will be contracts that you win and contracts that you lose. There will be days that go to plan and days that are randomly hectic. There will be spontaneity and surprise and there will be predictability and routine. This is life.
The key to making 2014 a year that you want to repeat is to make it one that you enjoy, to make it one that is rewarding and fulfilling and, because these are emotions that you are in complete control of, it is absolutely and totally within your grasp. It lies within your hands already and the events that you are planning (and not planning) will simply be the markers along the way. These will be the external causes but the effects are internal and absolutely personal.
I am not advocating irresponsibility and that you simply wait for the vagaries of time and tide. No, in fact, exactly the opposite. I am suggesting that this year above all others that you take full responsibility. Full responsibility for your actions and behaviour. Full responsibility for your responses and reactions. Full responsibility for yourself. This is not selfish. This is not abstract. This is not bunkum. This is practical, effective, efficient and ethical. It is unlikely that you will win every deal. It is unlikely that you will complete every task. It is even unlikely that you will fulfil all of your ‘resolutions’ but you will be part of discussions and deals. You will be ‘successful’ on occasion and ‘unsuccessful’ on others but the key to all progress is how you respond to these events. How you learn from them and you choose to change (if indeed you want to).
With his in mind I would like to offer a couple of suggestions before January turns to February and Winter makes way for Spring.
1. Do your business plan. A proper one that encompasses what exactly it is that you truly want to achieve with your business including the specific objectives, strategies and resources that you need. A simple financial plan is not enough because the money is only a function of the action.
2. Clear your clutter. This means all people, practices and possessions that no longer support your way of life (or the one that you are trying to build). Be aware of who really supports you and who actually drains you of time and energy. Develop your own u-s-p and build your niche.
3. Take full responsibility for your own emotions and behaviour. Blaming external events and people simply disempowers you. If it works for you, do it again, if it does not, stop doing it. Make improvement continuous and personal.
2014 is no different from 2013. January is essentially no different from December but what will make a difference to you, is you. Quite simply, be the change that you want to see and be responsible for how this makes you feel. There is nothing to wait for because in essence you already have everything that you need to create the changes that you want, the rest are simply tools and techniques for implementation, feedback and measurement.
Phil Birch is Business Editor at the3rdimagazine and author of the ground breaking Ethiconomics™ system. Phil’s first book is now available on Kindle