passion2Typically, any given year involves so much planning, effort, control, and even stress that we are pretty “wound up” as it ends. So, there is always a “winding down” as one year draws to a close, and as a New Year begins to dawn. We spend time reflecting, pondering, and considering the relationships, connections, and outcomes that have transpired.

This is healthy. Living with intention and focus is a large key to holistic success, and it is difficult to have intention without self-awareness and reflection. It is often at the Sunset of an Old Year, and at the Sunrise of a New Year that clarity speaks. “January” got its name from the Roman god Janus, who was a man with two faces. One looked backward, while the other looked forward. A New Year provides a valuable opportunity to ponder the past Year while anticipating the future Year.

That being said, I want to share a few thoughts with you as we gaze upon the Sunset of an Old Year, and into the Sunrise of a New Year. I have spent some time pondering my 2014 in gratitude and appreciation, seeking to glean what I can from the journey itself, and all I’ve experienced. This has birthed some critical moments of awareness for me, which I hope will be helpful for you. Please reflect with me on 5 Critical Things for 2015

The 1st is this: Think next level. When I consider 2014, it was a year of highs for me, both personally and professionally. I was able to experiencenext level and accomplish far more than I thought possible. I am in awe, and sublimely grateful.

Having said that, launching into 2015 is all about thinking next level. Being grateful and content is different from being complacent and stuck. 2014 was amazing, but with next level thinking, anything is possible in 2015!

I have always loved this quote from coaching legend Vince Lombardi: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”  See, living the life of your dreams, and building a life of impact are all about excellence and thinking next level. Building the life and business of our dreams starts with desire and motivation, but it takes next level thinking, intentionality, excellence and work to arrive.

Thinking next level means that everything is potentially in a state of growth, flux, and evolution, as opposed to being static and fixed. What’s interesting about thinking next level is the impact it can have on everything else. If you want to go to the next level, think in terms of what it will take to support that, and to facilitate you getting there. Thinking next level can impact everything, such as relationships, because if our current relationships do not support our next level, we may want to cultivate new ones. Thinking next level can impact our marketing, because if our current marketing strategy does not support where we want to take our business, we may need to overhaul it. Thinking next level can impact our level of training and education, because if our current level of training and education does support where will be going in the next level, we may need to enhance it. Thinking next level is dangerous because of what it can mean to the static and stagnant parts of our lives.

The 2nd critical thing for 2015 is simple: Play to your strengths. Sometime in early December, I did a bit of an exercise which produced a personal “Aha moment” for me. I made a list of all of my professional strengths, as I perceive them, and checked them with a few close friends. My list was validated by them as to its accuracy. Then, I took a close look at that list and asked the even more important questions: How many of these professional strengths had led to professional success, financial abundance, and happiness within my life? And would there have been any value in me focusing on anything other than my strengths? See, I was pondering focusing on fixing my weaknesses in 2015 (good luck!), and came to realize that this would produce limited value in my life compared to continuing to augment and maximize my strengths. I am coming to understand that being well-rounded and average at everything is not as effective as excellence at a few things.

In 2015, seek to be aligned with yourself. Play to your strengths. You have amazing capacity for greatness when you are dialed into your personal sweet spot and strengths. I call this your “LIFEFIT”. Pursue your LIFEFIT in 2015. Abundance easily flows when you are most aligned with your best self! This is a process, and getting my book, Getting Where You Need To Go, will help – In 2015, remember always that when you want abundance, get aligned with your best self. Abundance follows alignment and abundance follows aligned people. Play to your strengths.

The 3rd critical thing for 2015 is this: Less is more. We live in a culture where often more is more. Bigger cars, larger houses, fatter paycheques and upsized living appear to be the priority. However, as we pass from 2014 and into 2015, I suggest that less is more. Our “more is more” mentality has led to false standards of success, a self-serving focus on materialism and money, and sadly, environmental destruction and degradation of our planet. The only outcome of a “more is more” mindset is a consumption mentality which often only leads to selfishness, insular thinking, and protecting the little we have, rather than being generous and expansive.

Simplicity, on the other hand, is sublime. Simplicity acknowledges the worth and value of an individual, and validates the power of moments within our lives. Rather than striving to add to an individual, that he or she may attain or “become” something, simplicity acknowledges the worth and value of an individual as they already are. Rather than seeking experiences and adventures which will somehow complete us, simplicity is aware that in this moment is all you need for sufficiency and empowerment. Simple pleasures like the warmth of another’s touch, a sunset that paint the sky red, or the gentle dance of trees blowing in the breeze can provide replenishment and empowerment to those who embrace it.

I love this quote by Lao Tzu, which speaks to simplicity: “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you”.  The essence of simplicity is to be yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others, or compete with others. Be content with yourself, and gently compassionate towards yourself. You will thus find your need for things will lessen, and your capacity to be gently compassionate and patient with others will also increase. In 2015, less is more.

The 4th critical thing for 2015 is that profit is important so we can leverage our capacity to give back. When I began my business, the notion of profit was foreign to me. I was much more interested in simple survival and just getting by, rather than the idea of generating maximum profits. It almost felt erroneous for me to seek to attain profit, as if I was doing something wrong or sinister.

I have always been a giver. My track record in giving is not earth-shattering, but it is consistent. I love giving, and cherish the words of John Maxwell that we make a living from what we get, but a life from what we give. Through highs and lows, over the last two decades, each year I have given away 10-20% of my income to charity. I love doing this and have long understood the power of giving. But what is perhaps new is the desire to maximize my profits so I can increase my giving. The more my profits, the greater my capacity to give. In 2015 remember this: profit is important so we can leverage our capacity to give back. Never feel guilty for super profits if they lead to spectacular giving! 2015 is a year of maximum profit for you and I as we leverage that new-found capacity towards greater giving!

people matterThe 5th critical thing for 2015 is that all that really matters is relationships and people. Again and again, when I close my eyes, I remember a funeral I did just over 15 years ago when I was a full-time minister. I was conducting the funeral for a man who had passed in his 70’s, and at his funeral, there were precisely 3 people there: one mourner, one funeral director (from the funeral home), and one minister (me). Two of the three were paid to be there. 70 years lived, and one person attending the funeral of a man in his 70’s who was not paid to be there.

As a 23-year old, this experience shook me to my core. I knew at that moment that the most important thing in life is people. Success, effectiveness and reach can only be measured by the people we serve, the lives we touch, and the impact we make. Truly no joy is equal to that of putting a smile on someone’s face, supporting them to achieve a goal or precious thing, or helping them to simply believe in themselves and get unstuck. This is the true stuff of fulfilled living: giving, serving and empowering people. I hope our focus isn’t on making more money, but serving more people. The truth is that as we seek to serve more people, generally, more money will follow. In 2015 my focus is serving people, because all that really matters is relationships and people.

So here is my daily rallying cry in life and business for 2015. This makes a nice New Year’s Resolution, and causes us to have aspirational ambition that empowers and motivates as we keep in mind these 5 Critical Things for 2015. Every day in 2015 I resolve to:            

Live Fully…elevate your thinking

Love Authentically…

Serve Gratefully…

Lead Effectively, and

Make A Difference!

Happy 2015 Everyone!