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Thoughts For The New Year

This month I wanted to share Susan Hamilton Meier's thoughts on cultivating freedom that she shared in her December newsletter for her brand strategy business. Not only is Susan a jewelry designer, but a talented branding expert. I found her thoughts to be enlightening and inspiring for this new year ahead and wanted to share them here.

Cultivating Freedom

"In a world where many of us are fundamentally rethinking the need to be tethered to the traditional constraints of “work” and people around the world are fighting for rights they yearn for or have lost, I have been thinking a lot about freedom.

Freedom is one of my personal core values. The right to define yourself and live your life in the way you choose. The ability to voice your ideas and bring to life what you envision, no matter how different that might be from what exists or is expected. Freedom, which is the essence of creativity, is at the heart of human fulfillment and, I daresay, survival.

And yet freedom is elusive. We often feel stuck or trapped. We hesitate to pursue the ideas that might lead to joy or profit. We harness our imaginations before the can run wild.

What holds us back? How can we better water the seeds of our dreams that might change our lives or even our world?

Reflection. We are increasingly bombarded with information and have less and less time to process it. If you want the freedom to dream, to create, to change, you’ll need some uninterrupted time to reflect. In our over-scheduled lives, one way to get in some reflection time is to schedule it. I put a 2-hour time slot on my calendar each week to ensure I have a little thinking time, not just doing time. Another great solution is taking walks. Walking in an open space has been shown to activate the parts of your brain associated with free thinking -- and has the added benefit of being good exercise.

Resources. Freedom may feel like flying, but it requires a stable base. Setting yourself up for success means thinking through how to secure the resources you need so you can grow and develop. Need more time to think? Hire a sitter a few extra hours a week. Need extra income while fine-tuning your next move? Take on some freelance work. Seeking inspiration? Go to the movies, take a class, join a museum. Looking for collaborators? Join a networking group or reconnect with old colleagues.Don’t set sail without an anchor.

Risk. The big, exciting ideas often get pushed to the side because they feel too risky. In a corporate setting, meaningful innovations struggle to gain traction because the investment required doesn’t align with “making the numbers.” On a personal level, there is a tension between creative freedom and real, practical responsibilities. But avoiding the short-term risk also means relinquishing the long-term reward. The freedom to explore, fail, discover, and create is the necessary pathway to the breakthrough ideas that give our work meaning and lead to financial gain.

You have the freedom to choose how you spend your time. You have the freedom to change where your path leads. You have the freedom to write your own story. As a new year approaches, take some time to reflect, gather your resources, and then embrace a little risk. If you manage a team, trying gifting them some freedom and see what happens. I guarantee that cultivating a little more freedom will change your life. And it might just change the world."

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