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I always like reading end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year posts from different authors, bloggers, and everyday folks.
It’s a chance to reflect, to see what went well, and what didn’t go so well.
It’s a time to learn from the past, pause, sharpen things, and prepare for the future.
With that said, here’s 5 major biggies I learned personally in 2012.
1. Travel is an incredible teacher
A good portion of 2012 was spent for me on the road, in airports, and on busses traveling about the U.S. North, South, East and West were all destinations and stops along the way.
Sitting in an airport, or on a plane, or on a bus, gives you great time to think and pause from the everyday thoughts you might normally be focusing on.
It gives a pause, a respite. It allows you to think through lots of life-decisions and plan for more.
It’s also a great chance to meet some new people.
I met a lot of folks this past year that I might never have otherwise met if it weren’t for going to their home, their state. One biggie that I learned across the board? For the most part, people are generally nice and warmly responsive if you give them the time of day and have an honest conversation with them. This was just as true in the generally-perceived ”hospitable” South as it was in the generally-perceived in the “cold” North (As a matter of fact, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in all of my travels, shocking as this may be to people who haven’t traveled there yet, were from major cities like New York).
Want to make some changes in your life or experience things that will give you new perspective? Hop in the car and take a drive. Buy that plane ticket. Plan a road trip.
Action item – I’m a member of the Travel Hacking Cartel (affiliate link), a service that teaches its members how to rapidly accumulate frequent airline miles without a lot of extra spending. If you’re interested in racking up the miles for some free trips, or maybe just making your next trip extra special (EX: Like my wife and I did, when we were able to fly first class to Dallas, TX this year for FREE because of miles earned), then check it out.
2. You eat an elephant one bite at a time
Back in April, Srini Rao posted a quick question on his Facebook page talking about this book that he’d been using that helped him accomplish some pretty amazing things. He had an extra copy and said he’d be willing to mail it to anyone who posted a comment explaining why they’d want it or need it most.
Well, God decided to look favorably upon me that day, and Srini picked me.
The book he was describing was a copy of Seth Godin’s/Zig Ziglar’s Pick Four book (aff link). He got my address, gave me a quick overview of what it was about, and sent it.
It showed up a few weeks later, but I didn’t bother cracking it open. I was “too busy” with other stuff. What a mistake.
A month or so later, Srini messaged me again asking how things were going, and I ashamedly admitted that I hadn’t started. He shared some more fired-up stuff about how well it was working for him, and so I caved and decided to start it that week.
The process by which the book describes (I won’t spoil it all here) is very liberating in turning your dreams and wishes into actual, actionable items.
Before I knew it, I had hit 2 of my major goals within 8 weeks (the book runs for 12 weeks).
Drip, drip, drip, and all of a sudden, you have a waterfall.
3. D.I.Y. – Do It Yourself
One of my adventures this past summer led me to the wonderful wilderness of Arkansas.
I was on a business trip in Little Rock, and gave a call to my friend Tom. He has come up to New York a few times with his family during the summers (the whole family is a bluegrass band, how cool is that?), but although I had told him I’d come visit him, I had never actually cashed in on that promise.
Well, enough was enough.
Once he found out I would be in Little Rock, it would only be a short half-day’s drive to his house. He and his family welcomed me to their home, and little did I know, I was in store for one of the most fun weekends of the year.
What made it so fun with Tom and his family was the fact that they live very simply. They’re not Amish, but they don’t stress over most of the stuff that a “city boy” (even though I live in the sort-of country) would fret about.
He’s been very big lately on what he calls “living off of the land” – Growing, hunting, and catching your own food. Even though there was a significant drought across the U.S. this summer, the system he uses (gleaned from this video – worth the time to watch) WORKS. I’ve never had such juicy fruit and veggies in all my life. And the fish they caught? Magnifique!
The point of all of this?
When we were eating dinner on Saturday night, Tom told his children and me, that not even the richest man in town could tell you where his food came from. That it was a true blessing to know that they all had a hand in what they were eating, and that doing things yourself sometimes can really pay off. It was one of the most subtle, yet incredible experiences of my year, and I’ve thought about it almost every day since then.
As someone who just picked up hunting for the first time last year, I can understand the sentiment that Tom has towards doing things like providing food for your family by yourself, by not depending on someone else’s labor.
No, this isn’t a rant against genetically-modified farming, grocery stores, or non-organic foods. Just a simple and beautiful observation I made visiting a good friend this summer.
Doing things yourself pays off.
4. Wear what she likes
For a long time, I have thought my wonderful wife has wanted to make me look like some kind of a goofball that I clearly am not. I resisted for almost 5 years.
Until a much-wiser-than-me older friend came along and shared this bit of advice with me:
“Josh, you should just wear the type of clothes that your wife wants you to wear. Don’t you realize that what she picks out for you are the types of things that she finds you attractive in?“
You mean to tell me that the woman who I love the most in this world, who I’m constantly pursuing and trying to stay attracted to me is actually dropping HINTS for how I can do just that?
(Bangs head on table repeatedly)
What an idiot I am.
So this year, finally, in 2012, I started taking her advice. Harnessing the power of (what, to a man, appears to be the biggest time waster in the world that women love) Pinterest, I asked her to set up a pin board of outfits that she would like to see me wear. Using the amazing wonders of technology, I subscribed to that board using Google Reader. So every time she posted a new outfit, it came across my radar.
All of a sudden, people start commenting about how they like this shirt or they like that outfit. Had it been left up to me to decide what to wear, I’d probably be bumming around in sweatpants and a football jersey —–> Not sexy!
So thank you, wonderful wife, for being patient enough to work with your stubborn husband and show him the way. I love you.
5. Fail often
This one will be short and sweet.
In reference to the Pick Four book mentioned above, it wasn’t until I was making failure after failure (and writing them down, and learning from them), that I started to see success.
I could go into a long rant about how successful people have failed far more times than they’ve succeeded. There’s many videos out there that share the same story.
However, I’ll just say this: It’s true.
It’s very difficult to steer a parked car. Planning out every last detail before you take any action on any goal or decision will paralyze you. Taking the first step, the first piece of action, gets things moving. It’s far easier (and less mentally-taxing in the long run) to start moving and then correct course than it is to guess the correct course without moving.
Take action, learn from your mistakes, correct course, struggle, struggle, struggle, rinse, repeat, succeed.
It’s that simple.
I haven’t yet taken time to plan things out for 2013 totally. Matter of fact, I’m in week 2 of another Pick Four book as this is being written, and I’m not sure I quite want to share all the details about it just yet.
But I know this, it’s important to write things down, learn from them, and enjoy where you’re at.
I’m looking forward to 2013, and am actually already working on things to make it better.
If you’ve got anything cool you’re working on you want to share with the rest of us, we’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments below.
Happy New Year!