What did you learn from your partner in 2015?

I don’t have any resolutions for 2016, and my endless thanks go to my partner Elle – who is my inspiration and constant supporter in life – for that fact. Aside from some rough goals we like to recognise the ways of thinking worth taking forward and then see where the new year will take us. We can’t wait.

What would your list for 2015 look like? Yours might be very different, but here are some thoughts about the year we’ll be bringing into 2016:

– Plan not to plan: For us, the best laid plans are easily distracted (“squirrel!!!”), so we don’t bother any more. Spontaneity and an eye for something random tend to work better. 

– The best things in life really are free: A random adventure might turn out to be brilliant or a damp squib, but how many days spent in a shopping centre will you remember years from now? We almost never buy expensive presents or have any temptation to ‘upscale’ our lives (which is a way, in our humble view, of mortgaging ourselves against future changes). For us, shopping bags are for books and movies. After that we become bored.

– Nothing more valuable than time: We like to use money to create time for ourselves, not more money. One is more valuable than the other.

– No dress codes ever: Life’s too short.

– Look for the soulful: We live near Belfast, a stunning city. Not everyone sees the place this way but with a little looking the city has a great deal of heart and soul (and fun too). 

– Don’t say or imply ‘should’: To anyone.

– Don’t make me happy: Our happiness, we find, is our own responsibility to find, communicate and help each other with. It is down us to do these things. We can only make each other ‘happier’, not make each other happy in the first place. This approach really works for us.

– Do the things we’ve always wanted: The words, said in passing, “I always wanted to…” are a huge green light. Is it a bad idea? Maybe. Better to do it and know the outcome than spend ten times as long wondering. We can always laugh about it afterwards either way.

This was our 2015, the year of a lifetime. 

Here’s to your 2016.

*Dedicated, with love, to Elle

How does your partner inspire you? Here’s my thanks list…

I’ve often called my partner Elle my muse in life. She’s a talented leader in her work and a daily inspiration at home.

Some of the things she has taught me –

Decisions: Heart over head every time. Your head just wants to tell you the odds. There’ll be plenty of time to look back at the odds when you are *old(er).

Prescrastination: Is a waste of time, the single most valuable thing we have.

Growing old: Thanks, but no thanks. The forecast is for dubious decisions, childish adventures and student excess. Permanently. Call it growing *older if you really must.

Work: Do everything with heart, be your own person, integrity always.

Colleagues: If you are a leader, your journey is with your team and their journey is yours too. Lead your people, not processes.

Ambitions: All those things you always wanted to do? If you were waiting for a sign, this is it: >>SIGN<<

Words: Surround yourself with beautiful words. Nina Simone in the car and Tyler Knott Gregson on the bedside table will put any day in context.

Drama: Opinions are the most common things on earth. No one will look back on their death bed with thanks for the time they spent feeding trolls. Online or offline. Delete.

Stuff: Stop buying stupid shit. Stuff is stuff and debt is prison. In the time it takes to buy a ‘live laugh love’ cushion you could have visited an old friend. A beautiful old book or movie can give and be shared for ever.

Even when you are having a tough day, these are the things that you give unknowingly to those around you.

Thank you Elle.