There’s been a lot of talk during recent days, in the press and on social media, about how awful 2016 was. On a political level, there were seismic changes that brought us Brexit, Trump and an emboldened Putin. Much loved musicians and actors – from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen and George Michael, to Alan Rickman to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passed away. There were terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, Berlin and now Istanbul. And the situation in Syria remains bleak. One newspaper called it ‘the curse of 2016.’ 2016- A Year In Reflection

But this is by no means the whole story. We also witnessed extraordinary feats and accomplishments at the Rio Olympics. Team GB exceeded their previous success at London 2012, and did the UK proud. The Orlando Invictus Games, created by Prince Harry, inspired us with the determined example set by wounded, injured or sick armed forces personnel. The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday, whilst Prince Philip turned 95. The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme celebrated its 60th year of giving 14 to 24 year olds the opportunity to ‘be the best they can be.’ Andy Murray came of age with his win at Wimbledon, the Rio Olympics and achieving the world number 1 tennis ranking. Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London. The charitable response to Trump’s election was unprecedented in its generosity. Comedy brought us Joe Biden memes, Saturday Night Live and the unexpected treat of Ed Balls’ on Strictly Come Dancing.

When it comes to how we look at 2016, we can choose to view the world from a ‘glass half full’ or a ‘glass half empty’ perspective.

Olympians like Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Nick Skelton and Max Whitlock teach us lessons of grit, determination and focused activity. World leaders like The Queen, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela teach us that quiet, stoical determination and grace will always win out. Business leaders like PANDORA’s Per Enevoldsen and The White Company’s Chrissie Rucker teach us that we can take a tiny seed of an idea, and nurture it to become an iconic brand. It’s all about attitude and mindset.

The key question to keep asking is, are you spending time on the right things? Because time is all you’ve got.“ Randy Pausch

When I reflect on my own 2016, I can see how it was strewn with mistakes and errors of judgement. Some relatively insignificant. Others more consequential. I started 2016 with a plan that was too reliant on the decisions of others, with the result that several projects I had planned did not happen. I stayed too long in a networking group that was not a good fit for me. I learnt hard lessons about people who ‘talk a good game’ but didn’t deliver. Back in the summer I had a few ‘dark night of the soul’ moments. But I got my head back in the game, and thought long and hard about how I wanted to build my own brand. I worked hard and closed 2016 with a slew of referrals and new clients.

One of my biggest lessons of 2016 was the importance of ‘saying no.’ I should have ‘said no’ far more than I did. Warren Buffet is a master of ‘saying no.’ A key reason Buffet is so successful is his high level of focus. As this article explains, he has absolute clarity on his priority goals, and eliminates everything else at all cost.

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

When I reflect on the journey of my coaching and consultancy clients, I can see focus has been a key theme for them too. One or two were simply not focused, and I decided I couldn’t work with them. Some were focused on the wrong thing. Revenues instead of cash flow and profits. Email marketing rather than directing precious resources to marketing strategies that would yield far better results. Getting distracted by projects and shiny objects that did not advance their business. Trying to serve too many different types of customers. Losing confidence and giving up on their business - as well as their dreams.

Together we turned things around. We focused on a few key priorities. We increased prices to increase profits. We made sure that every penny spent on the business delivered maximum bang for its buck. We sacked suppliers who didn’t deliver great results. We steadily increased the size of the marketing budget so that it was at least 7-8% of revenue. Higher for those going for aggressive growth. We dealt with cash flow issues – some very serious. We had fun getting creative with brand development. We closed out 2016 by putting together a kickass marketing plan to start 2017 strong.

We were relentlessly focused on working towards our goals.

This is why relentless focus is my word for 2017. I know that’s two words. But I don’t think ‘focus’ on its own is quite sufficient. :)

In 2017, I’m looking forward to:

  • Expanding my coaching and consulting services to help more business owners focus and succeed.
  • Evolving my own brand and building my platform.
  • Completing a journalism course created by Dan Rather.
  • Writing a series of articles under the banner of ‘Lead With Integrity,’ the title of a book I’m working on right now.
  • Sharing with you how some of my favourite businesses have built iconic and successful brands.
  • Adding to my team so that I can stop doing the tasks I don’t need to do, and focus on those of higher strategic value.
  • Working from my new home, a stone’s throw from the beach on the Sussex coast, and having my ‘London friends’ to stay.
  • Keeping tabs on the local dog rescue centre to be ready to pounce when a super cute mutt turns up.
  • Dusting off my passport to visit new places as well as old favourites.

And I’m changing things up on this blog with a series of articles from some of my favourite people. Mel Noakes, the self-care coach. Kathryn Brown of Creating Your Plan. Hilary Robinson of Polished Professionals and PR and communications expert, Ruth Peacock.

Mel wrote one of the most popular articles on this website, Why Self-Care Is Your Number One Priority. This month, Mel is sharing her top tips for #30daysofselfcare over on her Instagram account. Do hop on over, and join me over there. Following the US election, Ruth drew on her experience as a BBC journalist to write Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

I’d love to know what you’re going to be focused on in 2017.And what’s your word or phrase for 2017. Hit me with a reply in the comments box below.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with this quote from Charles R. Swindoll:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do… The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Join The Conversation

Questions: I’d love to know what you’re going to be focused on in 2017. And what’s your word or phrase for 2017. Reply in the comments box below. I love reading your replies.

Explore These Additional Resources

Here is a selection of my favourite articles from 2016:

Work With Me

I’m Denyse Whillier, a London based business coach and consultant. I guide entrepreneurs from across the globe to achieve profitable, scaleable growth and create businesses that are Built To Succeed™. Built To Succeed™ is my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, 25 years’ experience at senior leadership and managerial level and training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK's leading business school. It's this background that sets me apart and helps my clients to get BIG results.

I’d love to start a conversation. Simply use this link to arrange an informal Skype coffee chat. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching (or business consultancy) would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.

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