2 January 2012

It was the perfect New Year’s Eve. It was 1999. I was in Vermont in the US, in the home of the famous film, A White Christmas. As the clock struck midnight, I walked outside in the snow hand-in-hand with the new girl in my life.

It’s a beautiful place and at the start of the Millennium it was a landmark moment that I am able to look back at. We were not well-off. We had very little and, if I am honest, I was barely keeping up with my mortgage repayments, but we had our health and dreams to make a better life.

UKFast was only months old and we sat down in front of the log fire the next day and wrote out everything we had achieved in those first few months of business. The list didn’t comprise very much, maybe 7 or 8 things, but it allowed us a small victory and gave us a sense of pride and a warm reminder that we were going in the right direction. As a business person, you get regular setbacks so it’s easy to forget that you are making progress. This discipline makes the positive steps you are making, however small, stand out, just like footprints in the snow.

Our first list was a little sparse to say the least. We didn’t have any staff, we’d moved to a tiny 2 person office in the city, and we can’t have had more than 4 or 5 customers, but it gave us a platform to start building in the New Year.

It’s a discipline that we continue to follow as a tradition and each year the list gets a little longer. We list people, awards, accreditations, office moves, holidays, great moments – literally any achievement however big or small. We do a business version and a home one too. It is something we now look forward to and it’s a great time to look back on all the events of the previous year and reflect.

In a world that races at 1,038 miles per hour (at its circumference), it often feels like we are going at the same speed. It’s all too easy to forget to pause and look back on the journey, weigh up what went well and what could have gone better.

However successful you are, there are always areas in your life where you can improve.

Honesty is an important part of finding true success. You need people around you who can spot when you are going off track but you also need to be honest with yourself too. It requires discipline because, more often than not, it’s easier to ignore problems as the truth often hurts. If you are listing the good, you have to list the bad too.

It might be weight related. It may be that your work-life balance is out. You may be neglecting someone. You may be neglecting yourself. Whatever it is, there has to be something you can improve. Deep down, you probably know what it is. It’s often difficult to face up to because, if you do, you have to do something about it.

But we need the bad things too as they are important drivers, giving us things to aim at and improve on. Without those annoying negative things we’d have no reason for growth and, fundamentally, this is what life is all about.

So, don’t beat yourself up for all the bad things you might be doing; just use them as leverage to make some serious improvements.

Besides, what choice do we have. If you leave a problem, does it go away? Seldom, in my experience, do problems just disappear. They normally get bigger!

For the record, I have a list as long as my arm of all the things I might have done better if I’d taken more care or been more disciplined. What I have found though, is that writing down my New Year’s refections helps me solidify what is needed for the journey ahead.

So, before you do your goal-setting this year and write down the list of everything you want to do and become, it might be worth sitting down with your partner, be they business or pleasure (or both in my case) and listing all the things you have done together and achieved.

I promise you it’s worth that warm fuzzy feeling and it gives you the momentum to take on 2012 and all the challenges you set yourself as well as those unexpected ones!

Don’t expect a miracle. Success is built up of small steps and lots of them, but years later those small steps may culminate to giant leaps or the pitter patter of tiny feet.

I wish you all the best and I hope to see you on your journey soon.

Best wishes for 2012 and beyond.

Lawrence Jones

 

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