At 12:01 AM on January 1, 2010, I had no idea what was in store for the coming year. I chose to be open to whatever, and hoped things would largely work out for the better, but felt like I essentially knew where I was headed.
12 months later, I sit here with an entirely different existence than what I had envisioned. And for that, I’m grateful. This has been the most extraordinary, challenging, adventurous, soul-enriching year of my life to date, and with that has come catharsis. Since lots of people post their lists of things at the end of the year, this time I’ll play. Here are the 5 major things I learned in 2010:
1. It doesn’t have to look a certain way.
I was always a planner. A perfectionist. An unrelenting taskmaster, mostly toward myself, in creating what I thought was the life that would make me happy. It had to look a certain way, with particular parameters, and anything less was complete and utter failure. There was no room for me the person — just for the tasks that kept me running on the hamster wheel. And that is what led me, in part, to a chronic illness (see #4). Now I’m learning to simply be, and use the planning as a guideline with room for adjustments along the way. There is much more freedom, creativity and well-being in that.
2. People are inherently good.
When my apartment was robbed back in April, I thought the very worst of humanity. In the midst of my devastation, and in fact on the same day, humanity — you — showed up to prove otherwise. I am still blown away by the fact that YOU replaced my stolen laptop, which to this day moves me to the point of tears. I’ve spent the rest of the year crafting new projects that will help others with the challenges they face, and created Zenfully Delicious to put that in motion.
3. Manage the process, not the person, and get out of the way.
Up until August or so, I was still trying to do it all by myself. The Lone Ranger was exhausted, wondering why nothing was moving forward. Turns out it was because said Ranger (me) was standing in the way. Then I began the Team Management & Leadership Program offered by Landmark Education — it’s essentially entrepreneurial boot camp — and saw that every management “skill” I was trying to use was only causing me to spin in circles. Now I am stretching myself to my entrepreneurial limits, learning things that business schools never even touch upon, and hey, things are moving forward in grander ways than I ever imagined. Where I was once overwhelmed by 1 company and side work in web design, I now have 3 companies with teams of people to make them run efficiently. I got out of the way, and am mastering the skills to make myself the most effective leader possible. I am diving into the uncomfortable, and the ride is never dull! But being willing to dive into the uncomfortable has opened doors to things like being asked to keynote my first conference next year. In Vienna.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No, really.
I’ve been doing a little research, and it has become ridiculously apparent to me that stress is the leading factor for our nation’s health problems. I am a living case study in the subject. Since discovering I needed to go gluten-free to get my fibromyalgia under control, I’ve looked at all areas of my life where stress plays a role. It should win an Oscar. My new outlook, and I’m getting better at it every day, involves taking on a sense of peacefulness and well-being every single day. I’ve managed to keep that state of being intact even after getting “glutened” in a restaurant, and had nary a symptom. I’m learning just how much the mind affects the body, and just how much say I have in that.
5. You can have everything you want.
The real question is, who are you willing to be to have it? Note I did not say “What are you willing to do?” The doing is just the busy work; it’s who we are that inspires (or repels) people to play with us and help bring our vision to life. This week I was able to check off a bucket list item, as I got a last-second invitation to the Prince concert at Madison Square Garden. Everywhere I turn, great things are coming into my life, because I invite people to play in my world with me. My commitment to those willing to play is that they get even more out of that than I do. And I get a lot.
So those are the broad strokes for this year. I’ve already got things rolling for 2011, with the biggest project I have ever undertaken, and I am chomping at the bit to get it in motion. So 2010 — and the years going forward — will best be summed up, when I am old and reflecting upon them, by the following:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body—but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!’
Oh my, yes. I wish you the very best in 2011, and cannot wait to see where the road takes us. Thank you for being a fellow traveler!