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How to Have the Best Year Ever

| markdegrasse |

I turned 34 years old today. Now that I’m officially in my mid-30’s I’ve reached a unique and important point in my life. Here are my plans to have the best year ever.

As many people probably do at my age, I’m freaking out. I’m old enough to know that I don’t know very much, but young and capable enough to do something about it. I have energy, a renewed motivation in life provided by my growing family (a wonderful wife and two amazing boys), and a growing acceptance of my limitations and strengths.

How to Have the Best Year Ever

While still very inexperienced in a life-long sense, I feel more mature and components of my life that seemed pivotal ten years ago are laughable in my current mindset.

Since I was 15 and got my first job I’ve done the same thing day in and day out: work myself to death.

The problem is that I now have a strong motivation to spend less time working and more time living to spend time with my family.

I can no longer work myself to death… I need to be healthy to raise my children and provide a solid role model that will encourage my kids to be both good workers AND dedicated family men.

I spoke to several friends today and realized that I have accomplished a few things that I should be proud of, and one of them is a dedication to my family. The other one is a dedication to helping small business owners avoid the mistakes I made in my past businesses.

How to Have the Best Year Ever

Given this outside perspective and numerous talks with my wife (she’s very intelligent and practical), I’ve made a simple list of principles that I plan on using to make this year the best one in my life:

PRINCIPLE #1: I Am a Specialist

While I have taught myself to do many things, in order to focus and succeed with my businesses I need to acknowledge that I am a specialist. I can’t and shouldn’t attempt to help everyone. There are other specialists that can help them better than I could. In trying to help everyone, I can not help the people I should be helping.

PRINCIPLE #2: I Can’t Do Everything Myself

While I’ve lived a fiercely independent life to date, my life moving forward needs to include a larger vision that incorporates employees, outsourcing, and partnerships. Rather than killing myself trying to learn everything, I should do what I’m good at (refer to Principle #1).

PRINCIPLE #3: Taking Time Off is Essential

Every moment of my life is accounted for. Worse yet, I need more time than I actually have to accomplish what I want to accomplish. For that reason, my life has often been overwhelmed by failed deadlines and guilt. This isn’t going to work. I must incorporate REAL time off in order to stay healthy and productive, and if deadlines can’t be met while incorporating this essential component of life, the deadlines are not realistic and should be adjusted accordingly.

PRINCIPLE #4: I Will Think Big

From the time I was 7 until the age of 27, I always had a vision for my business. I had a plan and I worked to execute that plan, and I always had a vision in mind that gave me confidence in my actions. When I was 27, that entire concept fell apart and since then my life has been a sprint from one life-changing event to the next (divorce, re-marriage, two kids, selling my business, moving states, etc.).

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I stopped thinking about big achievements and started limiting my vision to what would happen in the next week or two. This has kept me alive, but hasn’t done much to propel myself forward or give me wild and happy dreams of the future. Starting now I’ll think big.

PRINCIPLE #5: I Will Be More Open

I’m am an introvert. I don’t naturally gravitate towards talking to people or sharing information. This has not been productive, especially from a personal relationship sense. I can’t expect to truly connect with people if I am actively trying to avoid sharing information about myself, and connecting with people is the only way I can live up to the other four principles.

There you have it! In the coming months I’ll be writing about how these principles have (or haven’t) changed my life experience. Stay tuned :)