Welcome to 2016. It’s that time of year when resolutions are in full swing and hopes are high that we stick to ’em. It’s also a good time to reflect on the year prior. For me, 2015 was a pretty challenging year with lots of changes, some mistakes made, but the best thing about it was all the lessons I’d learned — about myself and life in general. My guess is that many people can relate to these, so that’s why I’m putting ’em out there!
- Run towards something, rather than away from something else. I ran away from unfulfilling scenarios twice in 2015 and it backfired on me. Don’t let your excitement about getting out of an unhappy place negate your willingness and ability to really investigate whether your next move is absolutely the right one.
- The grass is not always greener on the other side. Sure, it CAN be greener, but every lawn has its own set of flaws, even if not plainly obvious. And a flawlessly green lawn requires lots of learning, time, and hard work to maintain. I learned not to spend so much time thinking about other lawns and start focusing on really trying to be content with & improve on my own.
- Know & be real with yourself. I was a bit of a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde this year in that I struggled to realize that there was a difference between “who I wanted to be” vs. “who I was” (for the moment, at least).
- I thought I wanted to be Mr. DC for Silicon Valley companies, even though I’ve always sworn that I never wanted to be a remote employee of a company — I love the buzz of HQ too much and know from past experience that you can’t impact meaningful change to how a company operates from afar.
- I convinced myself that if a really amazing company wanted to hire me to run DC after 17 rounds of interviews, then surely I could ignore the fact that I simply don’t enjoy sales and probably shouldn’t take a job that is 90% sales if I planned to be successful.
- Don’t go it alone. Seek counsel from those you admire/respect, and seriously consider their opinions even if it’s not what you wanted to hear (this helps you be real with yourself). I spent a lot of time deliberating with myself this year and because I was struggling to figure out who I was and what I wanted, I made a lot of mistakes. I distinctly remember on several occasions, people I trusted who knew me well — like, really understood me — would challenge an assumption I had, or ask a question I didn’t want to think about or know the answer to, for fear that it might mess up the likelihood of a good thing. But in reality, if I’d simply given greater consideration to what these people said earlier in the year, I may have been able to avoid some of the missteps.
- Be humble and don’t let your ego or fear of what others will think drive your decision making. After the wild ride that was LivingSocial, I was obsessed with ensuring that I landed at a “cool, game-changing company.” There’s nothing wrong with that, except that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. By the end of 2015, I had come to the conclusion that whether someone says “whoa that’s awesome” or “what’s that?” when you tell them where you work doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re doing work you find meaningful and adding value to a company with a great product or service in an industry that interests you. That’s it. Do I think I’ll ever work for another start-up with lots of potential to revolutionize an industry? Yes. But for the right reasons this time.
- Stop living in the past thinking about what “could have” been and try to look forward. I got off the train at my most recent job of 2015, which is right across the Bentley dealership. I took a picture and sent it to my mentor with the quote “new job is right across the street from Bentley dealership. How ironic.” His reply: “not ironic. Try to look forward, Liam.” And I realized then that I’ve spent the better part of not just 2015, but 3 years thinking about what “could have/should have been”, and that’s counterproductive. In same vein, thinking too much about the future can be pretty dumb too. Try to live in the moment and make the best of it.
- It’s okay to make mistakes so long as you learn from them. So many companies/people talk about the importance of embracing failure and learning from mistakes. I finally get that after 2015. Don’t get me wrong, making mistakes and failing sucks, but after everything I’ve learned about myself this year, I am actually GLAD that I encountered so many stumbles. For much of 2012-2014, I had become complacent with the status quo. 2015 shook the hell out of that and brought with it a new found appreciation for embracing risk and change.
- There is more to life than your damn job! As you can tell, I spent most of 2015 agonizing & stressing about my professional life. In doing so, I spent less time with/thinking about all the other things in my life that matter so much more than career: my wife, my friends, my family, my health, my (non-existent) hobbies, my finances. I’m definitely going to spend more time focusing on the latter than the former in 2016.
So that’s it. I’m bidding farewell to a really challenging 2015 having gleaned several, really important lessons to carry with me into 2016 and beyond. I’m really looking forward to it. I wish you and yours an amazing 2016 as well!