What I learned last year in life, business, creativity.

Sunday I turned 38.

Andy Bondurant self portrait from InstagramI’ve come to realize that there is no other way to see it. I’m closer to 40 than any other number (than 39 which is basically 40).

I’m okay with that.

In fact, I’m great with 40. I’m excited about what the next 5, 10, 20 years of my life is going to bring.

I’ve thought a lot about that – what many refer to as “the most productive period in life.” I need to put all I’ve learned together to jumpstart this period of my life.

Having that in the back of my head has helped me be in a learning mode this year. I have learned a lot about business, life, myself.

6 important lessons I learned in my 37th year.

Let me share with you a few of the lessons I’ve learned this past year. It may help you like it’s helped me.

1. Intentional.

The most important concept I learned is to live intentionally. My word for the year is FREEDOM, but I see that nothing happens without living intentionally.

Even people who get rich through playing the lottery, get rich because they intentionally play the lottery.

If I could challenge you to do one thing in 2012, it would be live intentionally.

2. Hard Work

Sunday night, I watched part of 60 Minutes. They ran an interview with Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Through Hrabowski’s leadership, UMBC has become a powerhouse in math and science.

One comment he made stuck out. Nothing good happens in life without hard work.

You get out of life, business, family, relationships, photography, writing what you put into it. You work hard at those and other things in life, and you get good results. You move forward.

This isn’t groundbreaking news, but 2002-2008 tricked many people (including me) into believing business was easy. Put up a website, and make money.

That may work for a time, but in the end, success takes hard, sustained effort.

3. Life.

I believe in full, abundant life.

I believe that if you don’t have the life you want, you can work to change it. I believe that a full life is vital to a strong business. I believe that a meaningful life is key to producing great photography.

My friend Mark Ellis challenged me to define The Collective’s belief statement:

The Collective believes in life. We believe in living a whole, free, and meaningful life. We want to help you live life by serving you – our family, community and profession. We do that by offering a forum for advice and inspiration, on photography, business, and lifestyles of small business owners.

4. Know who you are.

It’s simple, but the results are powerful.

In February, I created a 7 word bio for myself. I got the idea from The Accidental Creative, but took a slightly different spin. I used 7 words that had meaning for me (each with its own definition).

Founder. Builder. Leader. Father. Provider. Author. Extra-ordinary.

This 7 word bio has helped me stay on track this year. It reminds me who I am. My 7 word bio gives me focus and direction.

5. Learn and grow.

My 37th year has been one of my biggest growth years of my life. I’ve intentionally spent a lot of time reading, researching, thinking and writing.

It’s helped me crystallize who I am (see above), and make changes in my life.

I’ve grown as a person, leader, business owner, creative, father, husband.

The amount of growth I’ve experienced challenges me to continue to learn and grow. I don’t want to get stuck where I am now.

6. Beginning.

I’ve just started on a brand new journey. I’m just beyond the trailhead.

Saturday night, Kia and I went out to dinner for my birthday. At the end of dinner she asked me a great question:

What’s next?

I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve moved forward, but there’s more. Year 37 was just 1 chapter in my life. Year 38 is the next.

I’m excited to share with you what that chapter brings.

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