Article By: David Sokol
By a show of hands, how many people make New Years’ resolutions? Come on now, don’t be shy! Oh, yeah, I forgot, I can’t see you. Anyway, I don’t make resolutions. Instead I’ve switched to asking questions, like how much TMI do I need? (No, it’s not Too Much Information, and yes, I will explain it later), to help figure out how to make my life better and set goals. However, before I jump into that, it is time to reflect on what I’ve learned from 2020.
I’ve learned that there is, indeed, only one Niagara. I love this area.
I’ve learned that the more time I spend with my kids, the better person I become, and the better behaved the kids are, and more fun they seem to have. Work is important as it keeps a roof over our heads, among other benefits, but making time for family must be a priority.
I’ve learned that most people are inherently generous. They don’t always know how to make a difference, but when presented a genuine opportunity, we want to help those around us. Impact is inspiring. Making a difference in your community is awesome.
Intentional living is a game changer.
I’ve learned that there is never a shortcut to achievement. Every “overnight success” that you see has been hustling for years and grinding it out, and we never see that side. Nothing comes easy; it always takes hard work.
I’ve learned that time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money.
Success and Fulfillment are not necessarily the same thing. You need to understand what it takes to make you happy. I know people who many would call successful, but I also know they are not totally happy.
I’ve learned I don’t much care for being a bit overweight. I’ve also learned that no one can change that but me. There is no pill or serum that can make me better, it is up to me to be disciplined enough to do it.
Revamping your business is F**king hard, but baby steps, navigating the learning curve, and no fear of failure will get you through the first year with reasonable success. The best part is, I’ve learned that no one gets to define what success looks like but you.
Simple is not the same as easy.
I learned that the old saying ‘it’s better to give than to receive’ is absolutely true.
Sometimes in business, (and in life), people will take advantage of your generosity. Give anyway. It will come back to you.
I’ve learned that becoming the best version of you is a lifelong journey. I’ll be 57 this year – hell, I’m not even halfway there yet!!
I’ve learned that our traditional education system is probably not the best suited for the world we now live in. Our education system really hasn’t changed all that much, since it was invented at the end of the industrial revolution. It was designed to produce factory workers, and in today’s world, it is entrepreneurs, inventors and leaders that our society needs, and our school system is not designed to create those types of behaviours.
The right hire will revolutionize your business. And your life. So will the wrong one.
I’ve learned that the internet allows you to create your own free MBA if you just want to take the time to research what you want to know, and then commit the time to learning it. There are billionaires and world class experts giving away for free their knowledge and insight to anyone that is willing to listen.
I’ve learned that in business, being open and showing people your values and beliefs will turn some people away. However, it will also attract like minded people who resonate with those beliefs. The others you didn’t need anyway. Congruency matters. True story.
I’ve learned that there is no greater skill in this life than self awareness. It is also the hardest to acquire. Knowing who you are – what makes you tick, why you think like you do, how you could see the world differently – is rooted in knowing who you are. You were created with a purpose, one that no other could uniquely fulfill. Your personality, talents and skills were intentional, no one else can do what was intended for you to do. This clarity gives you strength to persevere when things get tough.
Humility is the flip side of self awareness. If you can truly figure out who you are, it is easy to become arrogant. Putting others first is how to combat this potential downfall.
I’ve learned that not only is it possible, but it’s quite probable, that the very best years of my life haven’t happened yet. I am looking forward to a great 2021 and I wish all the best to you and yours this year.
I would truly love to hear anything you have learned in 2020 and you can send it to me at email@example.com
2021 – TMI
Instead of making resolutions like ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I am going to get healthier’, I started to ask questions about my life, both personal and professional. I learned this technique from Tim Ferriss who wrote “The 4-hour Work Week”. On his podcasts he has gone over these questions a few times, and I won’t cover all of them here, but the few that I really like are “What would I do/have/be if I had $10Million in the bank?”
Essentially, what is my real TMI? (Target Monthly Income, see I told you I would explain it ☺) I like this because a lot of us, even if we had a ton of cash, probably wouldn’t change all that much. This is particularly important for business owners, because we often are putting in crazy hours killing ourselves to keep building the business bigger and bigger. Once you know what your ideal lifestyle entails, then you can figure out your TMI, and now you have a target to hit and can plan accordingly. This will allow you to just maybe afford to be happy, and not just ‘successful’.
Another question I like to ask myself is “What would this look like if it were easy?” Here is where people normally confuse simple and easy. The goal of almost anything in life should be to make something easy to do/use. Making things simple can sometimes accomplish this, but not always. The standard transmission in your car is a lot simpler in design than an automatic, but which one is easier to use? The old rotary dial phone is simple, but your iPhone is a ton more complex and it’s a lot easier to use. So, as I look back on 2020 and think about going forward into 2021, I look at those areas where I spend a ton of time and energy, and ask myself ‘What would this look like if it were simple?’. Then I look for ways to do that. Unfortunately, this someone hasn’t already invented an easier solution, it is up to you to build it, which can involve a ton of work to build the ‘easy’ version. However, once it’s built, you’ve just freed up a ton of time and maybe even invented a product you can turn into its own business.
To help keep me focused on the real priorities in my business I like to ask myself “If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business what would I do?” or said another way “If I could only work on 1 thing so that in doing so all the rest is either easier or unnecessary, what would it be?” I know, both questions are crazy, but it forces you to apply the 80/20 rule (basically 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your business OR 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your business) When you look at your business that way, you can see that perhaps a little less revenue for a lot less grief is worth it.
On a personal note, I like to ask, “Could it be that everything is fine and complete as is?” If I had a Ferrari, would that make me happier than I am now? As a type-A personality, we are often hardwired to keep setting and pursuing goals. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned that materialistic goals are not going to make me happy. This ties into the TMI question, and it is designed to make you really look at what makes you happy. Hey, the pursuit is sometimes what makes people happy, and in that case, great. Go for it! For others, it’s not, you just need to be honest with yourself about what it is for you.
The last question I like to ask is “What is the worst that could happen?” If you are thinking about doing something and it scares you, it really helps to write out what are the absolute worst things that could happen, and then rate the likeliness of that happening on a scale from 1-10. So, if you are thinking about changing jobs or expanding your business, what is the worst that could happen? Ok, so it could totally fail, you get fired, you lose your house, you get divorced, etc. Now, how likely is that to happen? A 1 or 2 out of 10, and then what are the benefits if it worked out, and how likely is that to happen? Better life for your family, or impacting more people in your community, and shoot an 8 or 9 or maybe even 10 out of 10. Then what happens if you don’t take that chance? You stay in the same job that you don’t like, or your business never grows and you can’t impact other people’s lives the way you want to. If the worst does happen, (because sometimes it does), what would you have to do to get back to where you are now? Get another job, or close the new expansion or location of your current business. Most risks we fear are not really that big once you dissect them and write them out. Nothing in life worth having comes without hard work and some risk taking.
So, I ask you……forget resolutions…what are your goals for 2021? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org