Why My New Years Resolution Has Never Changed*
A New Year often brings a lot of things - mainly lots of reflection on the past 365 days and then promises to ourselves on what we want to do for the next 365 days. Often, we make these promises public in the hope that it’ll motivate us to do better and get *that much* closer to actually achieving them. Most of the time, by the end of the 365 day period, almost all of us can’t remember the resolution we set in the first place.
When I was 15, I decided that it was pointless (for me) to set resolutions, especially on New Years. I had never really planned my life around the calendar year - indeed most major events in my life haven’t been scattered in 365 day periods. So what I decided to do was to use each end year as a reflection on the past and to make a simple decision:
- Was I as a whole happy with what I had achieved in the last 365 days and did I feel that year was better than the last?
Since 2003, which was the year I decided I’d adopt this informal policy, every year I’ve reflected and found a sense of happiness with where I am. Funnily enough, when I look at my most recent few years, there were probably years where an outsider may have struggled to find what I celebrated or what progress I made. But that never bothered me. The most important thing to me was how I felt.
There were recent years for sure where based on any measurable KPI, my year should have sucked. At end of 2012, I had left a very well paid job to start two startups - 1) that had some funding which was NexPay and 2) mPort which not only had no funding but was sucking up all my hard earned cash. Yet at that end of that year, I felt a sense of pride that I had had the courage to do something that very few could and a sense of belief that my year had been significantly better than the last.
At the end of 2013, I had imagined that both my businesses would be on fire. Yet that wasn’t the case - they took a lot longer than what one may have imagined and shit, it was actually hard to build a business. Yet I felt a deep sense of achievement. I was still *in the game* and my businesses while not anywhere close to where I wanted them to be, were making genuine improvements. That gave me the belief that the year had been worth it. And much better than the past.
2014 was a year where it started to turn around. Again, if I had set any measurable KPI, I might have been disappointed. My startups were still not on fire… but there was just a *glimmer of hope*. One of them I had decided to bring in another partner. I believed he would make real progress. We had finally started to get some revenue (oh it felt good!). The other, my baby mPort, now had 8,000 users and a pathway to gaining scale. We had failed on a number of metrics we’d set ourselves but overall, as a whole, we were making great progress.
2015 was a year that it finally felt like it was coming together. We added almost 50,000 users in one year to mPort - announced a strategic partnership with one of the largest retail landlords, raised a significant amount of money on great terms and have a pathway to global scale. On any KPI, we’d had a great year and for me personally, of course, the best to date.
So if you’re wondering what I’m trying to get at - it’s really quite simple. No year will be perfect - you’ll never hit all the targets you set for yourself. In each year that’s gone by, I’ve failed countless times (it might have been when a customer complained about a pod breaking down, or an investor who passed on taking a meeting or a brand that said they’d rather wait than joining mPort today) but I’ve never let that get to me**. Because I know that I’m constantly learning and I’ll do better the next time around.
In my short experience of life, I’ve realised that a huge proportion of one’s success is down to attitude. What separates the great from the good is not one’s skills (these can be easily found in a world of 7 billion people), but how one applies those. Positivity combined with critical self evaluation is the only way to move forward.
So if you’ve set yourself a few resolutions for this year, add one more for my sake - promise yourself that you’ll enjoy this year and you’ll make it a better one regardless of what happens to all the others!
Happy New Year!
*Since I was 15
**Note this doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge the mistakes I’ve made. That would be complete stubbornness and not the best recipe for success!