I recently came across the term “clear the decks” and it sums up well my thoughts as I begin a new year. Clear the decks is a nautical term used to warn the sailing crew to remove or secure all loose objects that might get in the way of the guns or injure the crew. It is a way of saying prepare for battle or prepare for a new adventure. The new year represents new opportunities, so why not clear the deck of anything that might get in the way? Here are some ways that I will prepare for the future.
I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years and occasionally I need to reduce. Last year I sold one of my motorcycles and one of my bicycles. I was surprised that getting rid of some of my stuff gave me a new perspective and fresh energy for new projects, not to mention creating room in my garage. I am also trying to clear out papers and books that I no longer need or read. Being free of this unneeded material lets me focus on things that are important to me. I still have more stuff to reduce in 2016 but this was a good beginning.
Sometimes new learning can give me a spark to start new projects or complete old ones. I recently began a new MOOC on statistical thinking for data science. This is the first of a series of three courses which I chose to expand my thinking on some of my work. Since it is applied learning, I am gleaning new ideas that I can use immediately. Whether it is a short course such as this series of MOOCs or something as extensive as pursuing a new degree, education is a great way to clear the decks and may lead you in a new direction.
Another way to jump start the new year is to evaluate your network to determine who can help you in your upcoming adventures and whom you can help in return. A purposeful evaluation of your network will help you determine how you can make progress on the things that matter to you. Is it time to find a mentor? Do you need to let go of old relationships that hold you back? Conversely, is there someone out there who needs your experience and expertise?
Our calendar is handed down from ancient Caesers and popes and provides no magic when we turn the page to a new day or month or year. The magic and each beginning comes from us. It comes from our planning to make the next day and the next year even better than the last. One way we can do that is to clear the deck of anything holding us back as we get ready for the next journey.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.