Its time to set sail.

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A ship is built to sail.

You were made to make a difference. Sometimes in a big way. Sometimes in a small way. Sometimes in a way you will not really be able to see.

In some ways you will have an impact, whether you want to or not. Everything you do will affect others somehow. The question is how? Is what you are doing leading to their flourishing? Is it making it easier for them to do their work, to live their lives, to make a difference themselves?

Is the world better off because of you?

Or have you played it safe? Are you only concerned with yourself and your little circle? Are you only interested in ensuring they are safe? Do you live for yourself, or for others?

In the harbor you are safe, and so is the little circle you care about. Safe, but unfulfilled. Safe, but bored. Safe, but inconsequential.

You were made for more. You were made to explore the sea. To sail out into the oceans and explore. To find incredible places with amazing treasures and share them with others. To connect things that had never been connected before. To bring your gifts to people who need them, and receive gifts from others.

So, pull up your anchor and set sail.

It will be scary, and it won’t be safe, but it is what you were meant for.

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be fearless

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Earlier we talked about needing to find the thread of last year. This review is important, because it can give you an idea of how your work is all connected. The connections you notice will reveal the things that are important to you, both good and bad. You will see things that drain you and are done simply out of duty or obligation. You will also see things that provide you will a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

These are the things you are called to work on.

Sometimes we talk about our calling in some mystical and mysterious sense. If you are a believer, then you believe some higher power is helping guide you into the things you need to do. This is something I believe as well, but I don’t think it is always revealed in extravagant ways. Sometimes your calling is revealed as you recognize the feelings of accomplishment and purpose as you work on something you deem worthwhile.

So, you’ve spent some time identifying the threads of last year. Now it is time to plan out this year to ensure that you keep those threads a priority.

This may mean some hard conversations with those who are supervising you. It may mean letting go of some things that others could do better. It may mean making room for the things which are still necessary for you to do, while maintaining a focus on the thread which gives you meaning.

It will probably mean overcoming your fear of putting yourself out there. Making a claim about what you should be doing will draw attention to what you are doing. This can be scary, but use it as an opportunity to present your case. Tell others why you should keep these threads a priority, and you may be surprised at the support you receive.

finding the thread(s) of 2017

2017 is very quickly coming to a close.

How did you do this year?

If you are anything like me, this is a rather hard question to answer. I was involved in so many different things that it takes a bit of work to make any kind of assessment of the year.

One of the key practices every leader (I would say every person, but for leaders this is especially true) should do is a year end personal review.

Sit down with something that has a list of everything you did last year. This might be your calendar, with all the appointments of the previous year. This might be a project management app which allows you to see all of the tasks you have completed this past year. Or it might be something else.

Spend some time going over that list and reflect on every experience.

What was it like to finish that task, to make that appointment, to take that holiday? Is there a pattern to events, tasks, and the feelings you are experiencing as you review them? Do you see a good balance between work and rest? Are there things you need to prune in the coming year? Are there areas you need to grow into?

These questions are designed to help elicit some initial responses to a bigger question.

What was the thread going through this year?

What does 2017 teach you about yourself, your life, and your work?

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This may not be that easy, and the thread(s) may not jump out at you right away. That’s okay. It might help to begin to pare down the list, and make a side list of some of the more powerful experiences over the past year (both good and bad).

Don’t rush this process. It might even be a good idea to come back to it a few days in a row. This allows your mind to marinate on the questions you are asking and the experiences you had.

After you find the common thread(s), you can then consciously weave them into the coming year.