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Growth Is Optional

As we peer into the future with the hope to gain the best return on investment possible. Change, transition, clean slate. We have heard all of these words recently whether it is in our personal or professional lives. How we move forward will define how those changes will really affect us. A lot has happened in over the last several years. Changes in sports happen almost weekly and we can either adapt or don't: Conference realignments, brand changes, memorable marketing campaigns, break ups and make ups, PR disasters, coaching carousels, cutting ties, engagements, marriages, home buying, family additions, road trips, vacations, Netflix marathons. Whatever it was this year, reflecting on what has happened over the last 366 days is healthy … identifying mistakes and remembering positive memories. Believing in ourselves. Being happy. It doesn’t matter if what happened was life-changing, or if those changes were so minor it has become an afterthought, those changes have altered how we perceive our external environment and characterize our behavior and who we are. Our personal lives should mesh seamlessly with our work and so should the people that are in it. I realized that support is critical in moving forward and you need to surround yourself with those that share core common interests (if nothing else, for personal sanity). It is very easy to get lost in a selfish mindset without the support of friends, family and those closest to you.

Regardless, we are constantly attempting to adjust to circumstances that are beyond our control, especially when the future is potentially unknown. The way we communicate and offer support has changed drastically in the past two years. More and more people have taken to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blog posting, etc. to offer their opinion and show their love (and sometimes hatred). Some air their dirty laundry publicly for all to see and some choose to keep it private. I feel like the idea of how to properly communicate with others is lost sometimes. You would think that with the opportunities for “instant” communication, you would be able to figure out what others are thinking, feeling, acting … nope. Not even remotely close. This, too, can cross over between personal and professional relationships. Do you effectively communicate how you feel toward your best friend or significant other? What about your boss/co-workers? For me, and for those that know me, it takes a LOT for me to get truly angry. I try to remain positive and optimistic as much as possible. People often know how I’m feeling and when I’m angry, people know it. There are so many reasons why we choose to communicate the way we do and how we channel that information properly to those around us. A new year often means identifying goals we can make for ourselves and resolutions that can help make this year more enjoyable than the last. Everyone has heard the phrase “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), right?

So often we forget how true this actually is. One simple way to achieve the goals we make for ourselves is by realizing how important communication is with ourselves and with others and channel those details in a positive way. How can you possibly sell someone an idea if you don’t believe in it yourself? Instead of asking yourself why, how about why not? We have all experienced some form of tragedy in our lives. Unfortunately, some have experienced it far worse than others, but using a combination of support and good communication can help us move forward with these issues. Becoming smarter about certain setbacks starts with being prepared. This is true for sports teams, business pitches or asking someone out on a first date. There is always a fear of rejection and there is always someone who is out there, ready to shatter your confidence. Using what you know, however, allows you to recreate the approach on how to better handle yourself and your relationships moving forward. Once you do get that “yes” and reach those goals, it makes it much easier to mimic a similar solution in the future. The key to success in anything is allowing yourself the opportunity to actually TRY, and that involves taking risks and being creative. Act as if.

I would love to share an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “Marketing Outrageously” by Jon Spolestra. The book is about how to increase revenue by thinking outside the box, using creative ways to express marketing strategies in business. I say, redesign that box or throw it away completely.One of the chapters in the book mentions two tasks that everyone should do. The first is to ask yourself a question. Fill in the blank: “What’s it going to take to ________________ this year.” It’s a question every person should ask themselves regularly. It’s that little motivation that can go a long way, much like having that size-too-small pair of pants hanging up in full view in your apartment as motivation to work out more and eat healthier to fit in to them. The hardest part isn’t necessarily finding the answer to the question, but actually asking the question to begin with. The book also suggests that you write the question down on a note card or sticky note and keep it in your wallet or pocket, or somewhere you can instantly access it. This isn’t a question that needs to be looked at all the time, or shown to anyone. The fact that it’s there should be a reminder to keep you focused and on the right track. The ability to create your own luck in 2013 can be fostered by a foundation of support and motivation. If you constantly do things for others, why not ask yourself what do *I* want. If you constantly do things for yourself, why not ask yourself what do *others* want. Are you the leading actor/actress in your own movie? Are you the face of your own personal brand? If not, there needs to be some adjustments made in the new year. Pay it forward and always network, whether it is virtual or in person.

Up and coming sports agent and Hi-Def Rep CEO Heather Deranek suggests a quote she often tells her current and potential clients:

“Patience – It won’t happen all at once. You can only control what YOU do. You have to believe that if you keep working hard, it will pay off. Even during more difficult times in which you are struggling, never lose sight of your goal and your belief in yourself.”

After speaking with her, I realized that this quote is something I should be telling myself daily. We all have those inspirational quotes that we find from time to time that we can relate to, but sometimes we don’t actually use them for real benefit. You cannot possibly grow and move on if you don’t embody the motivation and communication required to succeed. I have learned to take my own advice. I’ve grown a lot in the past year, for the better. I have been introduced to some amazing people in my life and reconnected with some of those from my past. Timing has been a consistent theme in my life and I am excited to see what this year has to offer. Certain opportunities that are right on the horizon makes me realize that every downhill has its uphill and for that I will continue to have a big smile on my face. Always remember to smile more. It makes people wonder what you’re up to.

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