As 2011 draws to a close we’re asked to look ahead to what 2012 may offer us and also take stock of all that transpired in the previous 12 months. But rather than go through a lengthy laundry list of “wishes” or “goals” to “conquer” in the upcoming year, or whine and complain about all of the things that I didn’t achieve the previous year, I’d like to focus on some simple lifestyle changes that, by their nature, will allow me to achieve more, build stronger relationships and take more time to slow down and enjoy all that God has given me in this life so far.
The celebration of the new year has always been my favorite holiday event, going back to when I was a child. I remember one year, when it was just my mother and me, staying up late to watch the ball drop and she let me pop the cork on a bottle of champagne (we never actually found that cork….weird) and I remember feeling a great sense of renewal, an energy of possibility that was amazing. That feeling has stuck with me nearly 30 years later and it’s something I hope to impart on my children as they grow up.
The New Year is about more than parties and celebrations and old acquaintances forgotten. It’s about reflection, appreciation, gratitude, hope, promise, all wrapped up in the pit of your stomach pulling you forward towards a new horizon. The new year is an opportunity to do something different, something meaningful, something good. The previous year no longer matters. It’s passed, it’s gone and unchangeable. The new year is….well, it’s NEW.
So what changes will I strive to make in 2012 that will have such an impact on my life and the lives of those around me? Very simple, very small changes.
Reduce my dependence on stuff.
Stuff gets in the way. It clutters up your closets, the space under your bed, in your dressers, in your email on your hard drive. Stuff takes time to organize, to catalog, to delete and to get rid of. Stuff is not necessarily useful, or at least, if it was once, it no longer is. It’s simply hanging around for no other reason than you THINK you might need it again one day. In 2012 I will strive to reduce my stuff and make room for the things that are truly useful.
The importance of gratitude.
Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. This may sound like a no-brainer, but think about your daily routine. How often do you simply thank people for ordinary mundane tasks? The mailman comes to your door with the latest stack of bills and circulars. Do you ever meet him at the door/mailbox and simply say “thank you”? Or the barista who hands you your double mocha, no fat, soy, triple pump cappucini-whatever – do you ever smile and offer gratitude that she took such care to get your over priced ridiculous coffee order right? Gratitude is something I will seek out in 2012. I’ll hunt for any opportunity to give it freely and be thankful for that opportunity as well.
Relationships are what make life worth living. If you had none you would be completely alone, living on a mountain somewhere eating tree bark and talking to your thumb. Relationships in business are even more important. Without them you’ll never get referrals or any continuing work. And building relationships with clients should be about more than just trying to bill time and make money. As architects, in order to adequately serve our clients we have to know them on a personal level. We have to see how they live, how they work and how they play. We have to attempt to understand their wants, dreams and desires. The only way to do that is to be genuine, personable, likable and build a real lasting relationship.
Three simple steps, three simple concepts, with amazing potential and impact not just on my life, but for family, friends, colleagues, clients and random people on the sidewalk who always seem to have a hard time looking you in the eye. 2012 is a year of possibility, a year full of potential success, failure and lessons learned. There are people to meet, clients to woo, buildings to build, relationships to foster and many many things to be grateful for. What does 2012 hold for you?