To have a great year start with Planuary!

For many people, 2021 was a year they would rather forget. But not me. 2021 was a year that I would take extra Ginkgo Biloba to remember. I had a remarkable year. Here’s a quick summary:

Noteworthy Happenings From My 2021:

  • I sold 2 homes during the hottest real estate market in history.
  • I bought the home I spent more than 2 years looking for. (Which means the soundtrack in my head finally switched from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, to Kenny Loggin’s This Is It!
  • I coached high school track and field for the first time. (My daughter Ava made it to state in the discus as a freshman. Which made me look good as a freshman coach.)
  • I helped coach my son Magnus’s 5th-grade tackle football team. (I specialized in coaching the boys on their volume and hypeitude.)
  • I planned my high school class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire. (And there was almost no drama. But enough to keep it interesting.)
  • I traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Tennesee, Massachusettes, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I launched in 2016 celebrated its 5th birthday. (I invited Marilyn Monroe to jump out of the cake but she didn’t return my calls.)
  • I bought 2 new cars. Because the old ones (10+ years old) asked for a rest.
  • I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?
  • My Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship
  • The Atlanta Braves and my guy Austin Riley won the World Series.
  • And my man Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl.
  • (The last 3 are just fun for me. I had nothing to do with any of them.)

How To Make Your 2022 Great.

Great years don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And it all starts with planning. That’s why I call January Planuary. Because now is the time to plan your great year ahead.

What makes a year great is up to you. But if you don’t know what makes a year great feel free to use my plan, and adjust it to suit your own goals.

The 10 Things I plan in January. (Or Planuary)

  1. Travel: Especially the Places I gotta See Before I Die type of travel.
  2. Things I want to learn: This includes stuff like music, language, how to perform standup comedy, how to perform crouch down comedy, taking a hunter’s safety course, CPR certification, or getting my motorcycle license.
  3. Books to read: I pick some important books to read each year. Or set a goal like reading a book per month. Or 3 books per month. Audiobooks count. And they are one of my great life hacks.
  4. Career goals: I pick new challenges, set new targets to hit, make a change, or start a new business.
  5. Life goals: Like writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching or volunteering
  6. Connections to make: I ask, Who do I want to meet next? If you haven’t planned this before try it. It could change your whole life.
  7. Reconnections to make: Like planning a class reunion, team reunion or a friend meetup.
  8. Making time for big progress: I block time for progress against my goals. Like writing every morning between 6 am and 7 am. Or time for exercise. Or beard grooming.
  9. Timelines: I determine when I will do the big stuff. And I create timelines and deadlines to bring the more complicated goals to life.
  10. Other: This could be anything. Except for the 9 things above. Because if it is one of the 9 things above you don’t need a 10th category.

Key Takeaway

Great years don’t just happen. You have to make the year great through your plans and actions. Now is the time to create the plans. Put dates on the calendar. Make your year look amazing in January. Then make your plan your reality by living into it all year long. Then look back on New Year’s Eve at all you experienced and accomplished. Do this year after year, and you will have created a great life.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

If you like this idea and wonder if I have any more good ideas, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How much turkey will you leave uneaten?

Life is like a whole roasted turkey. You know, like the one you ate yesterday for Thanksgiving. It’s up to you to decide how much meat you are willing to go after. And how much you are willing to leave. But make no mistake, there is far more available than most people are willing to extract.

We all start with the easy and obvious. The big hunks of opportunity and enjoyment that everyone focuses on. Those pieces are so easy to find that they can fool you into thinking that the big stuff is the only stuff. Like Oreo Double Stuf.

But then there is all the other less obvious meat that life offers us that is often even better than what typically steals the spotlight. It requires more work and exploration to find. It rewards the curious and open-minded. It rewards those willing to get messy. And it is well worth the effort. Just ask Andy Dufresne.

The act of exploring for more is rewarding in itself. Finding the hidden value is extremely satisfying. Adding it to your life creates endless advantages.

Key Takeaway

To get the most out of life dig deeper. Look closer. Find all that was served up for you to find. The return on the time you invest is well worth the energy. The greatest treasures are not sitting on the surface. They were saved to be enjoyed by the few willing to put in the work to seek them out.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Warning: Someone will take your positive message negatively.

I am a naturally positive person. I like to share my positivity with the world. If you opened up my battery compartment you would probably find a Double-A battery that has a + sign on both ends. (And we’ll ignore for the moment that the laws of chemistry and electricity would dictate that such a battery would produce no juice.)

I believe we are all capable of more. So I share ideas about self-improvement regularly. I share what is working for me in my career and my personal life. I pass along positive quotes I find motivating and inspiring. I encourage people to adopt a growth mindset and discover new ways to learn and expand their abilities.

I see the silver lining, the half-full glass, the bright side, and the upside in every situation. So I try to share that perspective with the world the way people shared Coke’s on hilltops in the 1970s.

However, a funny thing often happens when I share positive messages about growth and improvement. Someone doesn’t like it. Someone finds a reason that what you say is wrong, shallow, superficial or self-absorbed.

But don’t stop sharing positive encouragement because people didn’t like it. Some people are wired to dislike, disprove, or disrespect. They have minus signs at both ends of their batteries. That is not about you. It’s about them. Don’t let them change your tune or stop singing just because they live in garbage cans on Sesame Street.

Key Takeaway

No matter how positive your message is, there will always be people who react negatively. Let them. Ignore them. The overwhelming majority of humans appreciate positive messages. Share for them. Calibrate for them. The small majority are venting. Because they were about to blow before you came along. Be good. Share good. Do good. You’ll help make the world a gooder place.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

What would the author’s bio in your book say?

I am in the final strokes of writing a book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Today I have to write my author’s biography. It’s what people who only have time for 2 syllables call a bio. It’s a 150-200 word summation of why you should give a hoot about what this owl has to say.

It’s harder than it sounds.

This task didn’t sound that challenging to me until I sat down to write it. Sure I know who I am. I have been there for all of my major life events. I tell the short story of me frequently when I meet new people. And sometimes when I meet used people.

However, I am not often trying to convince strangers that I am an expert on self-improvement. What would I say? That I used to be a lot worse? That they should have seen how bad I started out? That in the very beginning I couldn’t even walk, talk, feed myself, or hold my bladder?

My Wife’s Formula

What credentializes me to share my self-improvement and personal growth tips? When I asked my wife Dawn this question she replied quickly with the following succinct summary:

Your Positive Attitude. + Perpetual Self-Education + Life Experience + Professional Success + Athletic Success + Degree in Psychology + Story Telling Skills = Credibility

I thought that was a pretty good summation. I also thought maybe she is the one that should be writing the book. Or at least my bio.

Positive Attitude

It is challenging to summarize my positive attitude, despite the fact that my personal buoyancy is likely one of my greatest and most distinguishing assets.

Perpetual Self-Education

This is also hard to summarize. There are no degrees, certifications, or student loan debt for self-education. Yet my self-education far exceeds my formal education in breadth, depth, and applicability.

Life Experience

This is super important. Yet impossible to summarize within a 200-word bio.

Professional Success

This is easier. I started my advertising career as a junior copywriter. I worked my way up the creative ranks until I became the Chief Creative Officer of a 275-person ad agency. I helped lead the sale of that agency to the giant advertising agency holding company, Publicis. Then I became the lead creative of the largest ad agency in Atlanta.

I have worked on iconic brands including Reddi-Wip, GNC, Nike, Coca Cola, Dasani, Nationwide Insurance, Wells Fargo, UPS, Hertz, Safelite, Mizuno, Bob Evans, Chick-fil-a, Universal Studios, AMC Theaters, Volvo, SeaDoo and Ski-Doo.

I became an entrepreneur in 2016 when I took a big bet on myself (and my amazing future teammates) by launching the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. Today we have more than 25 clients across the United States, as well as in Canada and India.

Athletic Success

I was a 2-time New England high school track and field champion in the discus. The second time I won was just 8 months after having anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. I also broke the New Hampshire State record in that meet. I went on to throw the discus and the hammer at The University of Wisconsin, where I started as a walk-on and finished as a captain of a Big Ten Conference Champion team. I ended my career at UW as the #4 discus thrower in school history and #1 in the hammer. In fact, everything I know about self-improvement, goal achievement, and overcoming setbacks can be summarized in this section. 

Degree in Psychology

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin. I learned a lot about the power of attitude, resilience, growth and happiness. In fact, Abraham Maslow, whose hierarchy of needs is foundational to modern psychology was also a product of the UW Madison Psychology program.

Storytelling Skills

I like to share stories. But I don’t know how to tell a story about telling stories. I am hoping the book will do this for me.

Key Takeaway

It’s valuable to think about what makes you worthy to write a book. Why should others turn to you as an authority? What makes you a trusted source? Perhaps we should all spend more time considering our credentials before we offer our advice and opinions. And maybe it’s not quite so simple. Because the world is full of wise souls who lack the proper credentials but are rich with the proper perspective. And maybe you are one of those people. So write and share anyway.

*If you have any good ideas on things I should include in my bio, please let me know. If your thoughts are simply intended to make me laugh, all the better.

Are you maintaining or progressing?

As you put in your work this week recognize how much of what you are doing is maintenance. How much of your work is done just to remain where you are? Cleaning. Fixing. Taking out the trash. Paying rent. Trimming your nose hairs.

This is work. And it needs to be done. But it is doggy paddle type of work. It keeps your head above water, which keeps you alive. But it won’t get you on a box of Wheaties.

Progressing

The valuable work creates progress, growth and improvement. Things like learning. Reading. Studying. Experimenting. Asking yourself big questions. Expanding your skills, social circle, or comfort zone.

Key Takeaway

Dedicate more of your time to progress. It is where the magic happens. It is what makes life fun, exciting and fulfilling. Do it day after day. That compounding effect transforms you and enables you to become the best version of yourself. And better every day.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

An easy technique to keep you from quitting or compromising.

It is often difficult not to give in to temptation. You get hungry, tired, bored or frustrated and feel like quitting. Or eating. Or doing something that trashy talk show producers love, but your family and your boss don’t. Lately, I have been employing a technique that helps a lot in those situations.

Instead of quitting or goofing off, or drinking that beverage that doesn’t align with my fitness goals, I hold off for just 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, all bets are off, and I can give in or give up.

But then a funny thing happens. (Not like a Dave Chappelle-funny thing. Or a football-to-the-groin funny thing. More like a funny-how-well-that-works type of thing.) After 10 minutes I usually feel differently. My moment of weakness has passed. I get a second wind. Or I have simply forgotten what I was whining about.

90% of the time the 10-minute delay technique works for me. Simply agreeing to delay giving in means that I often don’t give in at all. This has a compounding effect over time. By spending more time focussing on a task you gain more traction. And by keeping your commitments you achieve your goals.

Key Takeaway

When you feel like quitting or compromising your commitments, wait just 10-minutes. You’ll be surprised how often you don’t end up giving in. Add this purposeful delay to your personal weaponry. It is an easy technique to use to get much better results than willpower alone can provide.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.