A year from now wouldn’t it be great to look back at your accomplishments and know that you set yourself up for growth and success? That you drew a line in the sand and used that line to make important decisions in your life and business and get more done? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to do that? Well, I believe there is, and I want to share it with you.
For as long as I can remember I’ve never worried about the cycle of a year. I’ve never been a big resolution-er. I didn’t know what framing a year could do for me. That was, until, 2015.
From 2007 to 2014 I had zero framing or planning whatsoever. I made a lot of business changes and personal progress, but I can’t look back and pinpoint the exact timeline in which that happened. I’m okay with this, and if you’re reading this, you should be okay with the fact that you haven’t framed out any of your previous years either.
2015, however, was my first framed year: The year of experimentation.
Looking back, I’m incredibly happy that I set the intention of framing an entire year. In doing so, it gave me the permission I needed to make some hard decisions in my life and in my businesses. Every opportunity that I created for myself or that fell in my lap went through the filter of “experimentation.”
What does framing a year mean?
Take my 2015 as an example, and picture the word experimentation drawn in the sand on a beach. That word becomes your line in the sand as you stand above it. Every opportunity, change, or decision that comes your way is a shell in the sand that washes up right in front of the word experimentation. It’s entirely up to you whether you bend over, pick up each shell and cast it away (back into the sea of opportunities) or carry it over the line and put it next to your feet (allowing it into your life as something you’ll focus on).
So what exactly did experimentation mean for me 2015 and how did it help me get more done?
It was actually quite different from my early years as an entrepreneur when I followed the advice of focusing more and doing less. 2015 was a year when I allowed myself to be more open to change and opportunities in my life and in my business. My goal was simply to try things. To see what I liked, what brought me value and what didn’t.
Does this mean I said YES to every opportunity that came my way? Quite the contrary. It meant that I looked for more new opportunities and less comfortable ones (by comfortable, I mean things that come easily to me).
I actually said no more often: I turned down most speaking gigs offered to me in 2015 because it wasn’t something that was new for me. It wasn’t something that would challenge me. It wasn’t something I wanted to experiment with.
I stretched myself with my writing: I accepted a bunch more paid freelance writing opportunities in 2015. I won’t say it’s easy to write for myself, but it’s certainly quite a bit scarier to deliver an article to someone else and let them edit it, make changes, and put it on a platform where many other people can openly critique it. This was new for me, and I actually really enjoyed it.
I collaborated more: I worked with many more people on collaborative projects in 2015. I always hated group projects in school, but I said yes to more people than ever before in 2015 because I thought it would stretch me as a person. It would force me to get out of my comfort zone of working mostly alone and give up control (something that I value greatly).
I took a big bold business risk: I hadn’t had a big bold project in a few years, but I could feel myself itching to do something big again. When the idea for BuyMyFuture hit me, it was a beautiful shell I happily picked up and brought over my line in the sand. I knew it would be a difficult project, but I also knew it was the type of project that fit perfectly in my experimentation frame.
I turned my entire life upside down: In my personal life, my wife Caroline and I sold almost all our worldly possessions (we kept our dog, our underwear, and our laptops) and moved clear across the country from Florida to California. This was by no means an easy decision to make, but it certainly felt right considering my guiding principle of experimentation.
This idea of framing a year does not have to be looked at under a microscope. It doesn’t need detailed metrics or over-analyzation.
Instead, it’s a big wide lens with which you can zoom in and out. Having a frame for the year is a nice crutch to lean on when you might need to nudge yourself in one direction or another.
You won’t get more done because it’s January 1
How about that little rhyme!? Just because the calendar starts on January 1, your timeframe for your year can start whenever you like. In fact, we all know how quickly we fall off the New Year’s Resolutions wagon. If we know that happens, why not start right now? Pick your own framing word and start getting more stuff done.
Need help finding a word to frame your year with?
If a word or value doesn’t immediately come to mind to help you frame your year, here are a couple examples for you:
Flexibility – This is one of my most important values. Do you want more options in your life? Do you want more spontaneity? Do you currently feel trapped in your job, city you live in, etc? Flexibility could be the word you need to start making big changes in your life.
Focus – This is somewhat the opposite of flexibility. Is there one big project or goal that’s been nagging at you for some time? A book to write? A business to start? A life decision to make? Focus as a framing word could really help you deflect opportunities that don’t directly relate to your one big project or goal.
Saving – This is the year you really start to tackle your debt. This is the year you stop eating out as much and start cooking meals at home. This is the year you take a strong look at your financial situation and make some cutbacks so you can build a little nest egg. When saving becomes your frame, you’ll be amazed at how much extra cash you can accrue.
Health – Have you let your health go? Tried multiple diets and failed (don’t worry, you aren’t alone)? What if the next 365 days weren’t about a diet, but were just focused on the frame of health. Each day you could do 5-10 minutes of exercise you don’t hate. Each day you could ensure you drink an extra glass or two of water. Each time you go out for a meal you could order something fresh instead of fried.
Charity – Do you want to give back more (and I don’t just mean money)? Do you want to donate your time on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? Knowing that you’re making charity or giving back the most important value for your year could help you make profound impact in the lives of other people.
Adventure – If you’ve been putting off big life and business changes, then this is the frame you need. This can be a challenging frame for a year, but it can also be the most rewarding. Stop taking the easy way out and start looking for the decisions and moments that will stretch you with excitement and the unknown.
Completion – Are you a serial project starter but not finisher? Do you feel like you get things to 90% completion but can never quite finish the last 10%? Frame your year with completion and don’t allow yourself to take on new projects, new tasks, etc, until you finish the previous ones.
Those are just a few ways you can frame your year. Again, framing your year doesn’t have to mean making gigantic sacrifices and changes (although it can), it’s simply a helpful nudge when an opportunity is staring you in the face.
Use your frame as a mantra to help you get more done
I wouldn’t recommend standing in line at a coffee shop and mumbling your framing word over and over again. (Well, unless your word is crazy.) But think of your framing word as a mantra you can repeat over and over again in your mind when the need to make a decision shows up in front of you.
With my example of the word experimentation, an idea or opportunity would appear and I would simply think “is this an experimentation? will this help me grow? does this take me outside my comfort zone a bit?” Whether it was something big or a tiny detail that I couldn’t seem to make my mind up on, my framing word of experimentation became a great deciding factor.
Put your framing word where you can see it and where it can help you!
Another useful tip to keep your framing word top of mind is to print it out and tape to the wall in front of you at work or at home. Keep it on your fridge. Write it in big bold letters on the cover of the journal/notebook you’re going to use this year.
You now know how to frame your year, the next step is to pick a word and put it into motion.
What will you frame your year with?