Life is What Happens WHILE You Fix It

My Declaration for Your 2014: The Year of Your Own Oxygen Mask

One, I will quit underpricing my work, simply because it's the ultimate self-slap in the face. In fact, if I cannot arrange circumstances so that I'm paying myself what I'm worth by the end of this next year, I will seriously consider working for someone else who may be a better entrepreneur than I am.

Two, after making a decision on the previous point, I'll confess how many more years I will enjoy doing this. I will then add three more years to upgrade the cart I'll be pushing and I'll make an honest assessment of what I should set aside each year. I'd love to sell my firm, but I won't count on it in my projections. I know that what I see every year--actually, every paycheck--is about all that I can count on.

Three, I will jot down some clever ways to peg the amount of "care" my clients bring to the table, and I will willingly match that level, just because it's the right thing to do. But for my own sake, I will not exceed that level, just because it's also the right thing to do.

Four, I will quit pretending to solve the potable water crisis in Africa and I will take a glass of cold, refreshing water to a randomnly chosen employee on occasion. I am tired of the hypocrisy of wanting to change that world while being a #@%!) shitty manager in this one.

Five, I will give up on the notion of taking more weeks off. Instead, I will take more long weekends off. To increase the likelihood of actually doing it, I will choose four long weekends, enjoy the actual process of planning, and prepay a non-refundable stay at an interesting place for each date.

Six, I will finally boot that one employee out of the nest. Yes, they have done every job in the place and been with me as the organization has matured, but they no longer have the presence, objectivity, ability, or hunger that we need. If I hear them tell one more new employee that they've been here the longest, and done every job, and know how and when to present things to me, I may just make a decision on the spot.

Seven, I will begin the process of thought leadership, writing at least four articles of 600-800 words. Too many years of winging it. No bullshit about branding or our process (different, just like everyone else's). This will be full of previously unpublished insights from years of pattern matching in the trenches, and my competitors will probably be dismissive but jealous at my brilliance. Regardless, prospects will be intrigued and they are the ones that pay me.

Eight, I will allow music to transport me to another world so that I can escape entrepreneurial loneliness. If I approach it conservatively, I'll buy A NuForce uDAC-3 and a pair of Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphones. If I'm in a glorious and spoiling mood, I'll aim for a Grace m903 reference amp/DAC and Sennheiser HD 800 headphones. And Grado PS10 in-ear phones for sitting next to the widish, talky travel guy on Southwest. (If 2014 unfolds as planned, I'll reward myself with a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies tube heaphone amp/DAC. Keep that one to yourself, please.)

Nine, I will be so, so grateful for whatever health and intelligence I've managed to retain through these years. [Pause and be grateful, please.] I won't view life as something that happens after I fix it, but something that happens while I fix it. The journey itself must be savored, along with the control and freedom and opportunities I have to NOT feed the machine.

Ten, if what I've just said still doesn't make sense to me in a few weeks, I'll take this note to a therapist who will kick my ass...and then take my money. (I need a job like that.)

Eleven, I will quit trying to express things in even numbers to create an artifically balanced world.

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