As we wrap up another year, most of us will spend some time reflecting on 2015, and thinking about 2016. I've posted my nine mantras below to serve as a guide for some of you who may be looking to shake things up in 2016. My life used to be very different a mere three years ago, and with some effort, I've been able to transition away from my job as a geologist for ExxonMobil, to the host of my television show Boundless, president of Stoked Oats, and founder of a volunteer scientific organization. I wrote my mantras down because I'm often asked how the chance to host Boundless arose, which for an athlete and adventurer like myself is truly a dream job. The short answer is that I had to create my own opportunity by co-creating the show with my friend Josh Eady. The truth however, is that Boundless is the result of a relentless pursuit of my goals and dreams over the past 10 years guided by these simple principles. There are nine key principles that guide most of the decisions I make in life. Some have always been a part of who I am, while others were tips that I picked up from friends, mentors, and others. Ultimately, my goal in life is to be happy, give back in a meaningful way, and earn enough to live the life I want to live. Here are my mantras:
Live With Passion:
Living without passion is like going for a walk in the clouds. You are aware that you are moving, but each step seems the same and you are unable to see what's around you, or to appreciate the view. Do things that you enjoy, and enrich your day-to-day. Living with passion will allow you to truly invest yourself in your own life. Celebrate success, and make time to take in the views.
Make Health and Fitness a Priority:
Everyone chases the fountain of youth in the cosmetics aisle despite the fact that research clearly shows that regular exercise, and clean, healthy eating are the best thing you can do for yourself to maintain good physical and mental health, and to look and feel younger! If North America's busiest top-executives can carve out 30 - 60 minutes most days for exercise, you should also be able to find time to make yourself a priority.
Dream and Map Your Ideas:
Most of the world's greatest innovators were also day-dreamers (often to the chagrin of others). Make the time to dream big dreams and put them on paper. If you can map them out, they might be easier to achieve than you think. Boundless was a dream I first had when I was 24, and competing in my first Eco Challenge.
Don't Force It:
You've heard the phrase "right place, right time," "or luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation." Achieving your goals takes time, and sometimes things happen quickly, but more often than not, you will need to be patient and observant in order to recognize and take advantage of your golden opportunity. Don't ram an idea down someone's throat -- if it's a good one, ...
Take Calculated Risks:
Sir Richard Branson is known for his line "screw it, let's do it", but make no mistake -- he makes his multi-million dollar business decisions based on a fusion of extensive research and his gut instinct. Risk is good -- it heightens our senses and helps us focus and concentrate. Sometimes are senses are dulled by our daily grind and we need a little risk to sharpen us.
Don't Fear Failure:
If failing at something was actually as dire as it sometimes seems, we would live in a world without airplanes, oil wells, lunar landings, and bridges. Living in a way where it's impossible to fail will limit what you can achieve, because coming up short sometimes can be our greatest teacher.
Find a Mentor:
I firmly believe that we all need help, guidance, and support in pursuit of our dreams. I've had numerous mentors along my journey from my parents, to educators, to friends. Business coach Jeff MacInnis once told me that everyone is uniquely good at something, and we need to look for that in ourselves in order to maximize our true potential. This simple advice helped put me on the path to Boundless. We all need support and mentorship; nobody makes it alone in this world. The world's largest corporations recognize this -- we should too.
There is No Right Way:
Personal and professional success reached from many different paths, so it's best to chart your own doing what works for you and keeps you motivated. The only way I know to achieve your goals is to work hard for them. Nothing comes for free, which is why it's so important that you love what you do, and have an unwavering belief in your dreams, because this will what motivates you when the going gets tough, which it undoubtedly will from time to time.
Give Yourself an Exit Strategy:
Ed Reinhardt, my PhD supervisor from McMaster University gave me some invaluable advice years ago. He told me that I should plan on changing course/pursuits every 7-10 years to keep things fresh and interesting. It's easy to get caught-up in a routine and to unknowingly become stale, potentially losing your creative, and competitive edge. Planning an exit strategy will help you remain focused on longer-term goals while tackling short-term goals. While you don't need to reinvent yourself annually, it's important to give yourself end-dates for current projects and trajectories - even if it means a subtle course correction.