When we toast our glasses on New Years Eve, we either celebrate the success and significance we achieved, or we are drowning our sorrows and regret because of moments or opportunities missed. For years, I’ve wrestled with the haunting questions of if I’m using my time, treasure, and talent wisely. Life gets kicked into high gear right out of High School and before you know it society is dangling the carrot of the “American Dream” in front of you. Grow up, get a job, get a family, gather all you can, and coast your way to death on a golf course or white sandy beach. It got me thinking…. 

Most people find any career they can that will allow them to make the most money possible. They are led by their pocketbook and possessions more than their dreams and their unique calling. Our culture advertises success as having the most money and material possessions you can acquire. If you’re lucky, you’ll even have a financial planner and someone to tell you what you should do with your money.

Let me be honest. I lived this way for many years. My company and business are where I found my identity. My craft was my facade, and I lived a life of faking it until I made it. I was super busy, but wasn’t producing results. Life was on life support. Then my life received what I called a rouge wave. The recession hit, we lost a family member to cancer, our son was diagnosed with autism, and we lost real-estate we worked years on to manage and take care of. This happened to a lot of folks. What did this do to me? Did it take me out? Was it devastating? Did it break our marriage and family? No. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. It refined us, restored us, and helped us realize what truly matters.

As a result, I’ve created a filter that I use to plan, calculate, and measure as I face a new year. I thought I would share it with you:

Mentors: I can’t follow myself. The more mentors I can have in my life, the greater the success rate of hitting the bulls-eye I have. Whether it’s financial mentors, parenting, leadership, or professional. I can’t be trying or guessing my path if I want a dynamic life of significance. The key is to follow a leader who has what you want. There are also mentors who are driven by charging you a fee. Here’s the key: Find wise people who are living the life you desire and surround yourself with them. Soak up every bit of knowledge you can in real time with them.

Have a Plan: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As I head into 2015, it’s pretty much already spoken for. It leaves 2014 in the dust as far as goals, dreams, and ambitions. Remember, goals without deadlines remain dreams.

Keep Discovering: One of the healthiest fears that keep me in check is the mistake of the status quo; not by the world’s standard, but my own. I don’t want any one of my years to be a rinse and repeat of the previous year. This past year held more impact and significance than I’ve ever had as an individual, in my marriage, and connection with the kids. In order for this to keep happening, I have to keep discovering with my mentors and thinking outside the box. I have to break my own rules, blow up the limits, and grant myself permission to color outside the lines of my comfort zone. The moment we stop learning, we start dying. We become a human existing, but not a human being. One of the key strategies for me is to hang around those like-minded people that are in the business of leaning in on life and on purpose.

Have a Dream Bigger than Yourself: I live by this saying, “If your dreams aren’t intimidating to you, they are most likely insulting to God.” If I don’t want to repeat the year prior, then it means being intentional by sitting down to plan a year of executing on the dream. Otherwise, why am I doing what I am doing? I don’t suggest doing this alone. If you want to go fast in life, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Get a mentor to plan with you.

Live Upward and Outward: After 43 years of being on this earth, doing business for 27 years, married for 13 years, and raising a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old, I’ve learned the key is this: Discover your identity in the way God has designed you. Use that identity to change the world around you and to point others to God’s love for them. Do this by using your passions and gifts/talents. This is what I call living in the sweet spot. Don’t know how to do this? I’ll help you. Once I had these realizations, I had to help others get free and live with purpose. This became  www.noahuniversity.com. I didn’t want to do life alone, and I wanted to be around other people who desired to stay accountable as they are doing what they love the most, and working the least amount possible while making the most revenue they could. More importantly, they gained more time in life allowing for the “best stuff” to arrive as opportunity because they were off the hamster wheel.

The new year is a few days away. What if this was the year you designed, built, and launched the life you’ve always wanted? What if you had way more time with your family because you made some strategic decisions to guard the precious time you have? What if you fit work around life, not life around work?

My goal has been refined to the core: To love God with all I am and have, to use my life as an act of worship back to Him for what He has done for me, and to use my gifts and platform to show others how to get free. God is the director of my life; I am the producer. I spent a majority of my life kicking Him out of his director’s chair as I tried to do things my way. I just became a busy guy building hamster wheels that I would run on.

How would you like this year to be? I’d love to hear from you with a comment below and please feel free to hit the social icons to share this post with others. I’m glad you’re here!