I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on what it takes to be happy and successful (not necessarily the same things by the way…). It’s interesting that one of the ideas that keeps coming up is the importance of consistently and authentically practicing gratitude in your life. (As an example, it’s physically not possible to be mad/upset and grateful at the same time…so if you’re having a bad day, taking time to find something to be thankful for can really shift your mood).
Overall 2014 has definitely had it’s challenges – but with the idea of focusing on the positive, here are 14 things I’m grateful for in 2014:
I love watching (and participating) with my kids as they make the tough transition to adults – it’s a very cool thing to see happen. I also deeply appreciate my wife and extended family for their support and connection this year.
I enjoy working with my clients – and I’ve discovered that one of the best things is the opportunity to celebrate their successes. And I have some really sharp clients, so that’s been happening a lot in the last few years…!
3. The economy – finally starting to show some signs of life
Despite the huge vacuum of leadership in Washington, we are finally starting to see the overall business environment pick up. I started Aspire back in 2007, right before the economy crashed, so it’s been a long stretch of down years, which makes it great to see even the small sparks we’re seeing now.
4. Opportunities to Travel
We had the chance to take one of our bucket list trips this past summer to South Africa and it was everything we could have hoped for (and then some). It’s difficult to put an exact value on travel, but I can tell you that a great trip will make everything else you do better…and that’s worth a lot.
5. Networking Partners
The past year has really been a good one in terms of developing relationships with business contacts that I admire, enjoy and have opportunities to collaborate with. These great relationships are also starting to pay off with quality introductions and referrals (in all directions) – creating the kind of environment you have to have for continued growth.
6. Cool Technology – example: The Quadrafoil
My entire life I’ve been inspired by cool ideas of what could be (probably because my Dad had me reading Science Fiction in grade school…). We live in an amazing time where technology is really starting to meet (and often exceed) what was only dreamed of years ago. Quick example – I don’t want a boat and I don’t live near water, but I can’t deny how cool the Quadrafoil is for a lot of reasons – check it out: The Quadrafoil
With work, family and all of the other obligations at hand, it’s not possible to spend as much time with friends as I’d like, but I do value the time that I have been able to spend this year (and I will be pushing to spend more next year…).
8. Time to Think – White Space
Another key to success and happiness that I’ve been reading about (and observed this year) is finding time to unplug and find some white space. I haven’t quite worked up to meditation (although I’m sure that’s good for you as well) but I definitely appreciate the benefits of finding some quiet time.
When I worked in the corporate world the ongoing message was doom and gloom with never-ending challenges. Maybe that’s why I so appreciate the optimism and energy of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
10. Gary Pinkel and Mizzou Football
The Tigers were supposed to struggle this year, but ended up going back to the SEC Championship and winning at least 10 games – and Coach Pinkel has built a program that’s gratifying to root for.
11. Bill Snyder
I didn’t go to K-State but you can’t help but be impressed and inspired by their great football coach. Unfortunately I’m getting old enough to really appreciate what he’s been able to accomplish at his age…or at any age.
12. Abundance – example Solar Energy Revolution
I first ran across Peter Diamandis and his book Abundance a couple of years ago and I was struck with what a different (and great) message he had. The essence of the book and most of what Diamandis does is that technology is building the capability for a golden age in the next 10 to 20 years. One recent example from his blog is a write-up on the Solar Energy Revolution. As you can see from his blog (and the book) – the possibilities are amazing. I’m grateful to be living in a time where the world is fundamentally changing and often for the better (despite what you hear on the news).
13. Marvel Comics – Bringing us great Movies
One of my Christmas gifts was a copy of Guardians of the Galaxy – one of the best movies of 2014…not one of the best superhero or comic book movies, but overall one of the best movies period! And Marvel also brought us the excellent Captain America – The Winter Soldier this year as well. I’ve always been a fan of superheroes and science fiction and now we’re getting a chance to see great adaptations on the big screen!
Probably no surprise that as you get older you start to clearly realize how your body works…or doesn’t work. I don’t always enjoy going to the gym or eating right, but I definitely appreciate feeling great and staying healthy (and relatively) fit. It’s harder work than it used to be, but I think that makes it even more valuable.
What are you thankful for this year? You don’t need to write your own post, but I would encourage to carve out at least a few minutes to think about it. It’s a great stepping stone for planning next year. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach