Christmas is coming. We’ve been to watch the Christmas lights being switched on in our village, been offered mince pies during a late night shopping trip and a large order of Santa hats arrived at the office yesterday, in preparation for the Christmas-themed parkrun next weekend. There’s no escaping the sometimes painful reality that this year is careering to its natural conclusion.
With this build-up to Christmas comes a (hopefully) quieter time in the business. Usually, at least. November was our busiest month of the year to date for new client enquiries, as a result of engaging an excellent consultant to overhaul our marketing plans, so hopes of a pre-Christmas respite seem quite distant as I type this, but with any luck there will be a week or two where we have some time for reflection. And for planning.
The reflection for me is looking back at a year I’ve dubbed ‘epic’. From a personal perspective, I’ve become an ultra marathon runner. Back in March I completed a 50km race around the New Forest, running the Brighton Marathon a fortnight later (is that even possible?!) and then stepping up to a 50 mile ultra distance marathon in May. I’m not a natural runner, so being able to get through these races, and doing so in respectable times, is purely down to sheer effort and mental fortitude.
I also took up open water swimming this year, diving right in at the deep end (sorry) with a 3km race in the River Arun. As I often say; decide what you want to do, work out how to do it, and then do it. I took on the responsibility of becoming Event Director for a new weekly parkrun event and organised our most popular charity 10k race to date.
Completing an excellent summer, I proposed to my girlfriend, she said yes, and now I have a fiancée. 2014 has been epic indeed.
The epicness (new word) also permeated through to my professional life; this was the year I filmed and directed a feature-length documentary for the first time, successfully crowdfunding the production costs and launching it to a great reception at the end of last month.
For good measure I wrote another book, co-authored this time with my friend Justin King, in a great example of how collaboration between non-competing Financial Planners can get great results.
I also made a successful return to advising clients, choosing to specialise in the area of care fees planning, completing a number of new exams and gaining Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society in the process. Epicness, indeed.
We completed a rebrand of our business, after celebrating our 20th anniversary in the summer, and implementing a very different marketing plan to the one we have followed for all these years.
These are of course only the highlights; the epic stuff that sticks out in my mind as I start to review the past year. It’s my experience with these highlights which will no doubt direct plans for 2015, as I make conscious decisions about where to focus my attention in the coming year.
I often feel the pressure, entirely self-created, to make each year bigger than the last. This is a temptation I know I need to resist in 2015 if I’m able to a) avoid burnout, and b) deliver on our agreed business goals, all whilst living a fulfilled life.
So the business focus switches entirely to following our new marketing plan, acquiring the right clients and delivering to them an excellent service.
The personal focus in 2015 revolves around planning our wedding and completing my first 100 mile ultra marathon (subject to recovery from a current injury) or completing some more open water swimming races if running evades me. I’ve committed to continuing to develop our local parkrun, supporting a new charity race and becoming a trustee for some new parkland being created in the village.
But other than this, I’m declaring now there will be no new documentary from me in 2015, no new book, no exams and essentially nothing as ‘epic’ as in 2015.
Instead I want to spend the entire year doing the best I possible can for those goals I’ve already set, reading more books and completing the eternally unfinished project that is the refurbishment of our house.
I want to spend more quality time with the kids (and of course with Becky), as much of it as possible outside and away from the lure of television or iPads. This, for me, in 2015, will represent epicness.
What do you want out of 2015? Have you started the process of reflection and planning yet?