The new year has begun.
As all years, 2014 was one of ups and downs, with more mistakes than successes made in this one, but one that I was happy to pass through.
I look back at the past year and take note of all the lessons I learned. It was not such a bad year after all.
1. The power of now
This is not only a lesson, but also a book, which virtually changed my life.
While I’ve always known about staying within the present moment, I’ve never understood how to do so for many aspects of my life, or how to use it when it comes to my present circumstances.
This year was a very tough year for me in business and finances. During the first half of the year, the fear and worry was debilitating and I found myself unable to act on anything.
Then I found this book, and it opened my eyes to how to stay present. How to view the happening of the now, so that the future is less of a worry. That there is no past or future, there is only the now. And now is the only time you can do anything.
My explanation is simplistic, but with this understanding, I was now able to pull myself out of the doldrums and to start taking some action.
2. Gratitude works
Last year I started listing at least 3 things that I am grateful for every day. I got this idea after reading Shawn Achor’s book, “The Happiness Advantage”.
Small things like rain on a hot day, or my kids giving me a note that says “I love you daddy”. And big things like getting some business, or meeting a new prospect.
It was sometimes hard to find anything to be grateful for when you had a bad day, but once you did, the day didn’t feel that bad any more.
It’s not that somehow the world was all rose coloured and I was happy. I was happier, but it allowed me to see the world as it was, not all good, and also not all bad.
3. Be kinder to yourself
During the first part of the year, with things getting worst, I was hard on myself.
Why can’t I work harder? Why aren’t I making those calls? I would never be successful as a businessman.
I was spiralling further into the abyss. I wasn’t depressed, but I was debilitated.
Then I started to be kinder to myself. Starting to accept my imperfections and understand that I will not always get things right, but I would learn in time.
I would like to say that a cloud lifted, and suddenly I was able to work harder, and was seeing all sorts of success. But that would be a lie.
Instead what I found was that I was no longer spiralling into an abyss, but was able to see myself for what I was – a human still learning to walk. I would stumble and fall, but eventually I would learn to run.
There are still times that I am hard on myself, but I’ve learned to recognise it, and change my response to a much kinder one.
4. How to let go
I’ve held on to grudges for a long time.
People have done me wrong, or betrayed my trust. So I eliminated them from my life, but I also held on to the feeling of resentment inside me.
After reading the “Power of Now” it changed my attitude, and I learned to forgive.
Forgiveness does not mean to forget, but it does mean that I no longer carry that burden of resentment that I once felt.
As Lily Tomlin said, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”
5. You have bad times, but they get better
With the first three lessons – being present, expressing gratitude, and being kinder to yourself – I started to realise that all the bad stuff that was happening, isn’t permanent.
Times don’t become bad, and stay that way. There are ebbs and flow, and with it, good and bad, and lessons learned.
I’ve now learned to take the bad with the good, and accept that it too will pass.
It’s allowed me to accept my present circumstances and to focus on getting out of it, rather that wallowing in sorrow.
6. Knowing is not enough, you must do – even at one little step at a time
I like knowing stuff.
I read and research a lot and gather lots of knowledge.
But knowing is half the battle, you must then execute.
This is where I usually falter.
Be it fear, indecision or uncertainty, I just don’t follow through. So I started to correct that, by taking small steps.
Small steps are less scary, an easier decision to make, and more certain of an outcome.
Does this mean I’m having huge successes? No. But I’m having more successes than if I did nothing.
7. How much I don’t know…
As I said, I like knowing stuff.
However, this year, I realised that there were tons of new technologies and techniques that I don’t know. Some was about 5 years old.
At first I was scared that I would soon be obsolete, but then I realised, “Wait! I can learn new things.”
You see, I was clinging to my old knowledge and my old way of doing things because I’ve spent so much time mastering those things. But it’s that sort of thinking and not my lack of knowledge that would make me irrelevant.
8. … and that’s okay, because people don’t care about how much you know
They only care about what you can do.
9. It’s hard being an entrepreneur
If you look up entrepreneur on-line you would get the feeling that this is an elite club with people living a life that others could only dream of.
But you will be wrong.
Entrepreneurship is hard work, with long hours, and time away from family and friends, and little social life outside of networking events (which I hate).
You feel guilty for spending more time on your business than with your family. Then when you spend time with your family, you’ll feel guilty for not doing more work on your business.
I’m going into my fourth year in business, and it hasn’t gotten much better.
Whatever you read, take it with a pinch of salt.
What about you?
What lessons did you learn during the past year?