January is a great time to set your theme for the year to come.
This doesn’t have to be a specific goal per se, but rather a theme can be the common thread that weaves through your daily, weekly and monthly activities, tying them together and making for a congruous experience throughout the year.
At the end of December and beginning of January, I’ll review what happened the year before and think back to what I expected to happen, and compare it to what actually happened. Then I’ll look forward to the year ahead and think about what experience I want to have consistently over the year to come.
Some other questions you can ask are:
- What’s the one big-ticket item that 12 months from now you could look back on and feel like it was all worth it?
- What’s one big accomplishment you want to realize?
- What sort of an “anchoring activities” can be put on the calendar for each month that are thresholds en route to the big milestone? (With one big monthly objective, or threshold, in place it’s easier to hit your big goals without the day-to-day minutiae taking over.)
What’s Your Theme for 2014?
By the powers invested in me, I hereby declare 2014 The Year of the Lifestyle Entrepreneur. That’s my theme.
After a year and half of building the foundation for the Lifestyle Entrepreneur brand (releasing it first in SE Asia and hitting #2 bestseller, as well as training clients, running workshops and releasing trainings) the book will finally come out in USA and the rest of the world in 2014.
My BIG goal is to make Lifestyle Entrepreneur a New York Times bestseller. The monthly “anchor activities”, or thresholds, are the different products and programs I’ll roll out over the year leading up to, and supporting, the book launch. Accomplishing some tangible goal each month let’s me know I’m on track.
Defining Your Theme and Building Anchors to Support it
After you have your theme in place, then it really becomes more about details, planning, and execution for the supporting activities around each of those individual goals. I call these supporting activities “anchors.”
But first, you have to really define your one big-ticket item. Ask yourself “what’s the big win for the year that would be so glorious that it may not even seem realistic?” You’ll find that just having it there and coming back to it consistently starts to ingrain it as a foundational part of your day-to-day activity and the subtext of what’s going on.
If you need more help, you can take a look at the Lifestyle Design 101 post so you can decide what to focus on. Starting from the discover your identity exercise, you can get clarity on the different aspects of life that you want to either learn more about or focus on; build a business on or shape your lifestyle around. The result of that exercise will also help you with identifying your ideal creative construct (which I’ll be talking more about momentarily).
Then come the anchors. You build these by literally drawing 12 empty boxes on a piece of paper and labeling each month: January, February, March, April… Ask yourself “what’s the one big thing that I can accomplish in each of those months that supports that overarching goal?”
As you start accomplishing your anchors on the smaller level, they build up a cumulative momentum that gives you a feeling of making massive progress towards your bigger, broader goals.
So, have you thought of a theme for 2014 that feels right to you?
Creative Constructs to Chart Your Course – Drop an Anchor and Ride the Waves
I’ve become a much bigger believer in blocking out time and dedicating it towards achieving these anchor activities and actions. Creative constructs can help with that.
First, here’s a definition of creative constructs from Lifestyle Entrepreneur:
Creative Constructs are temporary lifestyle changes that draw on your interests and passions to shuffle the deck in the game of life. Whether this means traveling for the summer, living abroad for half a year, participating in an intensive learning program or going off the grid and working on an organic farm for a season, creative constructs are an integral part of a dream lifestyle. Creative Constructs consist of setting parameters that let you work, learn, and play; meet new people, relax and have an experience that is long enough to be meaningful, but not so long that you’re committing to a whole different lifestyle long-term or indefinitely.
You can think of Creative Constructs as “dropping an anchor and riding the waves” – Dropping an anchor means centering around a theme, a geography, or a commitment, then riding the waves is exploring the surrounding areas and being open to serendipity that relates to your anchoring activity.
I’ve attached an excerpt on Creative Constructs from Lifestyle Entrepreneur here (download at end of this post). You can download it and read a few examples of Creative Constructs from my own lifestyle and entrepreneurship pursuits. Enjoy!
How this System Works in Practice
Here is an example of Creative Constructs in practice with a client of mine, hopefully this adds some color to the discussion and complements my own experiences that I wrote about in the book.
I had a client last year whose name is Davin. When we met, he was completing his PhD in explosives chemistry. He literally made bombs in labs.
When I met him I immediately thought he was a super interesting guy. Obviously very smart. He’s like in his mid 20’s doing a PhD in explosives and his goal in his words was, “I really want to become an entrepreneur and I want to have freedom to travel and work remotely when and where I want to.”
So his big goal became: Simultaneously complete his PhD in explosives chemistry and launch his business just after receiving his diploma.
That gave us five months to build the foundation for his business, while he completed the course work and these for his PhD. The business we launched together was built off one of his interests in hunting and outdoors activities, and focuses on selling tactical flashlights. We built Tactical Flashlight Specialist over the following five months and, indeed, launched just after he finished his studies..
To hit that big goal, we designed a monthly “threshold” for him to cross, that way Davin knew he was on track and had the feeling of tangible progress being made on the business front.
The first threshold was just dedicated to finding the right idea and investigating a market that’s interesting to him and that he’s passionate about.
Next was building a brand and doing designs.
Then it was finding suppliers and locking in a way to fulfill the products he was selling.
The second to last one was getting the website all ready to launch.
And then the final threshold was launching and starting to drive traffic and make sales.
From the start our focus was on both the lifestyle aspect (transition from being in school to being able to travel anywhere) and the entrepreneurship aspect (transition from academia to entrepreneurship). That foresight is Creative Constructs at work; Davin literally got his diploma, came home and launched his online business!
Now he’s got a cool job at Los Alamos labs (aka Area 51) “finding new ways to blow shit up” and sells tactical flashlight online with his business, check it out: www.BuyTacticalFlashlights.com
Setting Your Theme for 2014
Think back to this time last year. Do you know what you wanted to accomplish in 2013? If so, how did you do? It’s funny, because sometimes the goal that we have in mind, the goal that we want, can lead us in the right direction to accomplishing what we really need.
So, even if you didn’t set a goal last year, or the goal you set was different from the ones you hit, this is a fresh start. A chance to start anew and dream big again.
Now the ball is in your court – What will be your theme for 2014?
Leave a comment below and let me know!