The Blue Kite Blog

3 Guiding Principles for 2017

By | January 04, 2017

If you’re anything like me, you’re excited for the start of a fresh, new year. I always get giddy around this time of the year. I love reflecting on what I’ve learned from the previous year while planning for the year ahead.

Like many people, I was glad to kiss 2016 goodbye. But I’m particularly excited about 2017. The biggest reason for that is increased collaboration and partnership with my good friend and colleague, Stan Smith.

You may have noticed Stan showing up more on the blog last year. That will  increase even further this year as he takes on a bigger role at Blue Kite. More on this to come, but I’m beyond thrilled to be working with Stan. And more importantly, our clients are benefitting a great deal from his expertise and wisdom!

All of that said, I’m really hopeful and excited for what lies ahead in 2017. We’ve got some exciting things in the works for this year and I can’t wait to share them with you!

My 3 Words for 2017

Every year, instead of resolutions, I choose three words to serve as my guiding principles for the year. I focus on these words to help me achieve my goals.

I modeled this after Chris Brogan’s three words exercise. This is my seventh year doing this. And, if you’re curious, here are my guiding principles from the past six years:

2011: Be intentional. Be Balanced. Be myself.
2012: Be disciplined. Experiment. Find the joy.
2013:  Create space. Build systems. Focus on now.
2014: Rest Well. Lean on Others. Be generous.
2015: Be Bold. Prioritize. Celebrate.
2016: Dream. Create. Relax.

Here are the three words I’m focusing on for 2017. Read on below for descriptions of why I chose each one.

3 Guiding Principles for 2017

1. Constraint.

For the past several weeks, Stan and I have been discussing the power of using constraints. Although this word feels incredibly restrictive, using constraint can actually breed creativity and focus.

Let me give you an example. When working with one of our clients on a brand strategy last year, we reviewed a marketing plan that was built by another agency several years prior. Although we agreed with the general approach of the plan, the problem was that it was massive laundry list of more than 50 tactics for the organization to implement.

The result?

Nothing happened. Not one tactic was implemented. The plan was too overwhelming and broad, making it difficult for the organization to determine where to start. So, they never did.

That’s why we are taking the converse approach. When we build a marketing strategy for clients using our Core7 framework, we recommend ONE strategic approach and only three to five tactics for each Core7 principle. Those constraints keep the strategy focused and more likely to be implemented.

We are also using constraint in other ways too. Stan and I realized that we are at our best when we are healthy and rested. Although we have no trouble working 60-80 hours a week, we can’t keep up that pace forever. And, it goes against the kind of healthy culture we want to create at Blue Kite.

If we want to set a good example for our team, we have to practice what we preach. That’s why we are restricting ourselves to a 40-50 hour work week.That means no more working through the weekend or late-night marathons. We are shutting down our computers at 5 or 6 p.m. to rest, recharge and spend time with our families.

We are also taking a full week off every quarter to be completely unplugged from the business. This will be especially challenging since I rarely take a full week off a YEAR! But, we know that our best ideas often happen when we’re not chained to our desks. That’s why we’re building in the time to make this happen regularly.

By forcing ourselves to work within these constraints, we’ll be healthier, more rested and ultimately more productive and strategic. It will be challenging, but we believe the benefits will be worth it.

2. Invest.

Perhaps my biggest goal for the year is to be healthy – in mind, body and soul. That means, I need to invest more in myself. By creating constraints in the business, it will give me more space and margin in my life to take care of myself.

Here’s what that looks like for me:

  • Mind. To fuel my mind, I must regularly read, write, think and create. I’m carving out time every morning to focus on this. I used to be great at reading and writing every day and got out of the habit last year. It’s time to reinvest in this habit. One new area of focus is investing in my creativity. I’m looking for activities and interests outside of my work (painting, photography, etc.) that I can pursue to flex my creative muscles. I plan to double down on this in 2017.
  • Body. For almost two years, I’ve struggled with knee issues. I just had my second knee procedure a couple of weeks ago and I’m hopeful this will improve my mobility. I am eager to get back in the habit of exercising at least three times a week. Moving my body is good for my mind and the health of my body.
  • Soul. I am recommitting to writing in my prayer journal every day. I lost that habit mid-way through last year and I feel the difference in my spiritual life. I need to spend more time with God. Doing this will allow me to more adequately invest in others.

3. Connect.

Because I’m an extreme extrovert, I’m energized by connecting with people. Despite that need for social interaction and relationships, last year, I withdrew from people quite a bit.

I’ve realized that’s not terribly healthy for me and how I’m wired. That’s why I’m placing a priority on building meaningful connections and deepening my existing relationships this year.

As great as social media can be, it creates a superficial sense of friendship. Witnessing people’s lives on social media doesn’t create connection. But picking up the phone, meeting for coffee or hanging out over pizza does.

I don’t necessarily want more connections. I’m looking for deeper ones. Quality over quantity.

This takes effort and intentionality. That’s why I’m going analog this year. I’m carving out time on my calendar to meet with someone different each week. (If you’d like to be one of those people I connect with, drop me a line right here).

Social media was intended to help us expand our connections. And yet, I think we, as a society, feel more isolated and alone than ever before.

I think we all crave meaningful connection. And perhaps by investing in connections for myself, I can also help others who also long for deeper relationships as well.

It’s Your Turn

What about you?

Do you select three words or principles to guide you through the year? If so, I’d love to hear yours! Share yours in the comments or link to your post where you wrote about this as well.

Here’s to great things ahead for all of us in 2017!