Oswald Letter

Anticipate great success at work in 2016

New Year is loading nowby Dan Oswald

The opening line of Carly Simon’s 1971 song Anticipation is “We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway.” As I write this, it’s the first day back at work in the new year, and anticipation sums up the way I feel today.

Webster’s defines anticipation as “a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen; the act of preparing for something.” Like Carly Simon sang, we don’t know what 2016 will hold for each of us, but that doesn’t keep us from thinking about it anyway.

There’s something about a new year that is exciting and intimidating at the same time. It’s like a white canvas for a painter, a lump of clay for a sculptor, or a blank sheet of paper for a writer—it’s nothing today, but it holds such promise, such potential. Will you make 2016 a masterpiece? Are you up to the task?

So I ask you, what will you do with 2016? Or better yet, what will you make of 2016? If the new year is that lump of clay, what will you make of it? How will you mold and shape it into something special? Any work of art takes time, effort, and dedication—are you willing to commit all three to make 2016 a great year?

For thousands of years, people have made New Year’s resolutions. It’s a fine practice that gets some people to focus on accomplishing tasks they otherwise might put aside. I’m not looking for your resolutions for 2016, but I am interested in knowing what you’re excited about this year. Remember, my word is anticipation. What are you feeling excited about that is going to happen this year? More specifically, what are you going to make happen at work that has you excited?

Like that sculptor with a piece of unformed clay, what can you make of 2016? What work can you do that has you truly excited—that you can’t wait to unfold in the coming 12 months? For it to come true, you must be able to envision what you want to accomplish. If you can’t see it clearly in your mind’s eye, it won’t happen. And if you can’t see it happening where you are today, then you have other work to do before you can make 2016 a masterpiece for you.

Here’s what I want you to do: Pick up a pen and a piece of paper, and write down the ONE thing you’re excited about professionally that you want to happen in 2016. I don’t want a long list of things you want to do, just one. What’s the one thing you’re really excited about happening in 2016? Of course, you don’t know what the year holds for you, but if you could write the script, this is the one thing you would make sure was part of your year so that when you look back on 2016, you’d be completely thrilled.

Next, I want you to write down five things you can do that would make it more likely that the ONE thing you want for 2016 will actually happen. Great things don’t just happen—you have to work for them. Michelangelo spent four years of his life painting the Sistine Chapel. Indeed, a masterpiece takes time. So what five things do you need to do to increase the likelihood that the ONE thing you’re most excited about in 2016 will actually happen?

Now, I want to you to keep your piece of paper with the ONE thing you’re most excited about happening professionally in 2016 somewhere where you can see it every day. More importantly, I want you to put your list of five things you can do to make it more likely to occur in a place that you will see every day. It might be the middle of your desk or posted on a bulletin board in your workspace, but make sure those five things are visible to you consistently every day. Then go to work on them, and your 2016 might just turn out as you anticipate!