The four girls gathered loudly in my living room are women I've known and hung out with for years. One by one they roll in, first Sayeh and Alison, unexpectedly early for arriving from the Valley, then Jenna and Meghan in unison by happenstance. Meg's toy collie Griffin comes eye to eye with my Kitten before the two scatter directions amidst handbags, smart phones and Tory Burch flats. It's a Sunday night and one of the sort of unofficial somewhat regular get togethers the lot of us have. We work together and we play together, each of us founders of our own companies or other ambitious types. Sayeh and Alison walk the water near their houses, several of us regularly talk shop over mani-pedis, or lunch/dinner/drinks. Every few weeks or so we make it a point to gather somewhere, either at one of our houses or some cool little spot in the city.
This time around its my house and thankfully, everybody is willing to endure my potentially haphazard efforts as I learn to cook.
As we settle in over fresh baja fish tacos and baked tortilla chips true California cuisine style, the conversation goes into what we've got planned for the night. At our typical meetings, everybody would share an update on their business, talk about goals ahead and other plans, with plenty of feedback and insight from the others. But this time around, we wanted to have a little fun.
"So tonight we're doing something a little different," I begin as I start handing out giant pieces of white poster board, scissors and paste sticks. "It's the time of the year when everybody needs to be looking forward and giving thanks for what's in the past. So, we thought it'd be fun to create vision boards."
Over the next two hours, the five of us are spread out across my living room, creating what's been a popular branding exercises forever, each writing what we're thankful for this past year, and clipping pictures from magazines that symbolize plans and ideas for what's ahead. Our get togethers usually aren't this formal, but with the end of the year and holidays rolling around it can be so good to take a step back, have fun with your company and tap into your creativity. Just the same, there's something magical about appreciation -- of your work, yourself, other people, what you have, have accomplished, etc.
In fact, the more I remember to be thankful for what I have, the happier I seem to live -- and the more success I have.
Sayeh and Alison wrote theirs directly on their boards, Meghan jotted hers at the top of her page. Mine was a steady list of everything that came to mind from being thankful for my health to thanking God to the roof over my head, written as the entire backdrop to the big picture. An endless amount of clipped out photos of diamonds and food later followed on top of it, symbolizing a good outcome in 2011.
One by one, as we finished ours, we shared what was on our boards and why. I couldn't help but to think of how small but acutely good it had been. If you're working towards the next level, plotting out your next big thing, wondering why the needle hasn't moved, or simply want to know what's around the next curve, start by giving thanks -- including to yourself and the milestones and work you've done leading up to today. Then, start having fun exploring what you aspire for and want to do next. You'll be surprised on the return you'll get.