2012: On To The Next One

This week has been a sobering and strange time of inaction. I hate inaction. I am horrible at it. But as Timehop continues to send me my morning email detailing what kind of bold claims and inspirational quotes I made a year ago today on Twitter and Facebook about what 2012 would play out to become, I become more and more certain that 2012 will go down as a very forgettable year in the autobiography I probably will never write.

Every year since graduation from college has held some kind of memorable moment that I could hang the year on. A new job, a new city, a memorable trip, or a moment big enough it is now a part of my About Me page. This year? Nothing close. It wasn't a bad year the way that 2008 was, but it wasn't a year that I will look back on and wish it could have gone on longer.

All told, I can't wait for the calendar to flip to 2013 tomorrow.

But this eagerness to move on from 2012 and begin 2013 does give me pause. What is it about this year that left me hoping for more? What moments didn't happen that should have or what moments did happen but shouldn't have? Was 2011 such a big year that 2012 was doomed for forgetfulness?

And from the answers to those questions, what should and can be done to make sure that a year from today, when Timehop sends me this blog post in my daily email digest, that I don't feel the same frustration about 2013 and how lackluster it turned out to be?

I am not writing this post out of anger or frustration but from an ongoing battle to fight for transparency and truth in how I understand myself and the world I am creating around me.

2012 was pretty forgettable, but one thing that came out of the year that I know I do and always will look back on fondly, I got my first dog.

So from me and Rocco, here's to an incredible 2013.

The Five Stages of Refugee Status

The Kubler-Ross model for grieving seems to apply to being a refugee at the hands of Hurricane Sandy as well. Denial: The following tweet might have been a little bit cavalier of me:

Anger: As the storm raged outside and the power plant in our neighborhood blew up and knocked out all the entirety of lower Manhattan, the denial that we would be effected quickly switched to anger that our preparations for a day or two wouldn't be near enough to last the early reports that it would be at least 3-4 days before we had power and water, if not a full week.

Bargaining: As the reality of our situation set in, Annie and I just had to get out and walk it off. We headed north for more than a mile before we say the first flicker of power or a working stop light. I also figured that this was the best excuse ever to satisfy my recent urge for some unlimited salad and breadsticks at the Times Square Olive Garden. That bargaining worked but when we arrived we found out that they, like apparently every other organization not run by an immigrant Mom and Pop were closed.

Depression: The most common phrase yesterday was "Wish I would have known...." and then the sincere feeling of ignorance, naivety, and actual depression about my complete lack of preparation. It was a lot of internal reassuring that there is no way I could have known having never actually lived through a hurricane or dealing with days upon days of power and water outages. While I would say that I've pushed through this one, it is still lingering when I look at my suitcase and realize that its contents are the only things I'll have access to of my own for days to come.

Acceptance: The closest thing to a turning point in the depression stage was when we just decided that we had to leave our apartment and make plans towards that end. We were overwhelmed by all of the friends around the city that weren't hit as hard as we were that offered us a place to stay. While you never want to need help, especially as New Yorkers, it was pretty amazing to see how many folks reached out.

There are a ton of thoughts swirling in my head right now about what I would do differently and how this storm has a ton of parallels to real life, but I'll leave those for another day. But, in a effort to establish a little bit of order to this chaos that is my reality for the foreseeable future, I did the only thing I knew for a fact would help: I made breakfast tacos. 

I Still Love You New York

So many perspective and so many stories. Everyone knows where they were on 9/11/01. I asked Goodpenny's Executive Producer Rasha Clark this morning where she was and uncovered a whole new side of that morning. She'd been on a subway in from Brooklyn and came up to see smoke on the southern horizon as she made her way through Soho. Her office had a rooftop and as soon as she understood what was happening, she grabbed one of their studio's video cameras. Flipping it open just before hearing "There's another one!" she captured the second plane smashing into the towers. "When the buildings were on fire, it felt like things could still be fixed. But, when I filmed them falling to the ground, vanishing from the sky, that was when it hit me."

This is my third 9/11 in NYC and the first one that seems to have a peace to it. In 2010, when Osama bin Laden was still alive, I was livid. Last year, at the 10 year anniversary service (which I wrote about HERE), I was somber and gushing red, white, and blue. But this year, feels like a year of moving on.

I rode my bike down to the site of the new One World Trade building this morning and stood in silence and thought about where I was eleven years ago (which I wrote about HERE) Ever thankful for the freedom that I have as an American and ever proud to be a part of this wild and crazy place called New York.

(Love this song, but crazy part of the video: It was shot on 9/7/2011 - four days before the towers fell.)

Get Lost

Not just a phrase that the preverbal older sibling barks at the preverbal younger sibling, "Get Lost" is sound advice. My dad told me that one of the best ways to get to know a new city is to get lost. "Take some time and drive around until you have no idea where you are or how you got there. It may take a little bit of time, but once you’re there, try and find your way back without using a map or the same roads that you have already taken."

In doing this exercise, a couple things will happen.

  • You’ll learn quickly what roads that matter look like and how to identify roads that don't.
  • You’ll be able to "be wrong" and know it's okay.
  • You’ll discover things that you never would if you’d taken only roads you knew were correct.

The more times you Get Lost, the better you'll know the patterns that exist in all kinds of cities and situations. Then, the next time you find yourself in a new city or situation, you’ll be on the look out for the landmarks, posted signs, and patterns that you know will most important in finding your way to your destination.

You Should Be Afraid

If you go throughout your day without feeling at least one or two pangs of fear, you're doing it wrong. If you've crafted a life that is so safe that you know everything you attempt to do, you will accomplish, you need to rethink things. If you have no chance at failure, you truly have no chance at a real success.

Fear is an amazing motivator. There are few things that inspire the correct kind of hustle as efficiently and as quickly as fear. Not that fear should be a consuming mindset, but, if it is not a part of your emotional diet, you should try bigger things that you will likely fail at. The fear of failure is an extremely important ingredient in the recipe of success.

So, on Friday the 13th, what will you do that scares you towards success?

SAM Test

This isn't 3rd grade where there is no such thing as a bad goal, there is. "Being Happy" is a horrible goal. The idea of happiness isn't, but as a goal it is. How do you define "being happy?" When you have achieved that state, do you have to stay there? Or, it is a "more often than not" kind of thing? And, if so, how will you know for sure that you have achieved it? Will you write down the number of minutes each day you were able to keep yourself in that state of happiness?

In my post yesterday, I talked a little bit about the high level story lines that I've started to pull out from the unfiltered ramblings that I jot down when planning for the year ahead. But, I realized after getting some feedback (from you the reader, thanks!), that I left out how I determine if something will in fact make it from the hair brained idea phase to the committed and inked phase of the year.

I've had the chance to be a part of a lot of "goal setting" meetings, both professionally and personally with mastermind style roundtables. It is always amazing what you can learn about a person by the goals they share and the approach that they take to prioritizing what they think are the have-tos for the next year. But, in those meetings and roundtables, I've also hear a ton of really bad goals, like the previously mentioned "being happy."

For me, in order for a goal to be counted as a legit commitment, it must pass the SAM test.

Significant: It has to be something that you don't know exactly how it is going to happen and it is going to take your very best to continue to pull the pieces into place so that it can occur.

Attainable: In the time frame of the goal being set, in this case 2012, it has to be something that can be achieved. If not, you will end up failing and knowing that you are going to fail is never a good place to start.

Measurable: If you can't precisely define when you have arrived and what steps and progress you are making along the way, how will you know your are getting closer? You must be able to tick of units of success as you go.

By having these checks and balances in place, I've been able to take big lofty ideas like "Being Happy" and boil them down to specific goals that aim towards the bigger idea AND pass the SAM test.

I had the chance to spend some time with Jeff Swartz, the former CEO of Timberland. In talking about goals he put it another way: "It has to be big enough to matter, but small enough to achieve."

Happy Resoluting.

Resolution

I am in an incredibly awesome position as I think through what I want out of 2012. I haven't finalized my next career move now that Gowalla has been acquired by Facebook and therefore am thinking about and writing my plans for next year with a ton of unknowns attached. And it's awesome.

For years, I've broken my annual and monthly goals down into 6 categories as I think through what I expect of myself:

- Professional

- Financial

- Relational

- Spiritual

- Physical

- Educational

I start with very broad strokes in each of those categories, everything that pops into my head gets written down. I usually end up with 10-12 ideas for each category. Then, once I have all of those ideas in front of me, I take a big step backwards and look for trends, themes, or story lines that need to be pulled out and highlighted. What did I tell myself about myself in the free flow of goals and aspirations for the next 12 months? With some intentional thought and a large cup of black coffee, I was thrilled by what I found this year. The unknowns of what my business card will say I am and what I do in 2012 actually freed me up to think about things I hadn't before. I am still refining what I will commit to for 2012, but the big idea(s) are there.

We are all telling a story with every action we choose to take or not take. We are both the protagonist and the antagonist of an epic tale more commonly referred to as our life. Going into the new year feels fresh and full of possibility, but, 12 months from now, one thing is guaranteed to be true: 2012 will only ever be what we choose to make of it.

Happy New Year.