It’s the first day of a brand new year. Are you excited you take on 2016 or are you in fear of what lies ahead? Do you have fabulous plans for the future or are you still commiserating about your failures in 2015? Did you prepare a list of goals or will you “go with the flow” one more year?
Just today, I was out for a walk with my little dog. We often walk past an apartment complex for retirees. I see the same friendly gentleman almost every time, standing in the parking lot with a glass of beer in his hand. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8:00 in the morning or 6:00 at night, he has a glass of beer. Today I wished him a happy new year, which seemed to surprise him. “It doesn’t matter what you plan,” he replied, “whatever’s gonna happen will happen”.
I find his attitude sadly fatalistic, but truthfully, don’t many of us tend to surrender to the same thought process? We think it doesn’t matter what I do, my marriage isn’t going to get any better. Or, I work so hard at this job, but all I can expect is a measly 3% raise every year. It could be you’ve given up trying to lose those extra pounds because you try year after year only end up heavier at the end of the year.
The life you live is your story. What do you want your story to say? Is it a drama with wars waging between you and your spouse and unrealistic expectations at work? Is it a slapstick comedy – the one where the car engine blew up on vacation, and the dog destroyed your new landscaping digging up all the irrigation, and your parents came for a surprise visit on the day before your long planned 10th anniversary celebration, and the kids needed 27 trips to urgent care this year? Or has your year been a tragedy, filled with one heartbreaking loss after another? No matter your past or stage in life, you can design an exciting life story.
I know what it’s like to experience continued failure and not meet my goals. There’s not one of us who haven’t experienced failure, no matter how high-achieving someone may be. But there are some steps you can to ensure success this year. Here are 20 easy steps you can take to rewrite your story and make 2016 your most inspiring year yet.
- Resolve your mistakes and losses in 2015. Acknowledge what went wrong and your part in it. Getting it down on paper ensures you admit where you failed and helps you to see what you can do differently.
- Review your wins for direction. It may have been a tough year, but not everything went wrong. Acknowledge the things you did right, the new habits you created, and celebrate the things that went well. This will give you the confidence you can do even better.
- Reignite your passions. What did you love to do as a kid? What did you convince yourself you needed to give up in order to become more responsible? Maybe it’s time to go back to the hobbies or creative work you once enjoyed and see if it’s time to pick them up again. For me, it was getting back to the hiking I loved as a kid and young adult. It makes me supremely happy, draws me closer to God when I’m outside, and reawakens my imagination.
- Readdress your priorities to make sure your goals are aligned with your season of life. You might be able to do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want. If you have young children and bills, it’s probably not the time to set out on an adventure across the world. I have more freedom to seek out my own interests now that my teen girls are older, yet they still need my input and direction as they transition into adulthood and pursue college.
- Rediscover something that challenges you. Your goals need to scare you a little bit. That book you’ve been wanting to write? Yes, it’s scary to think what others might say about it. But if your goals are not daring enough, they will not interest you enough to follow them through.
- Refine your goals so they have a clear plan of action with a deadline. The old saying goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” You don’t need to have all the steps laid out. Plan the next right step to take and each succeeding step will become apparent to you.
- Regard your goals as commitments and appointments with yourself. People will want your time and things will come up. Schedule your next goal steps in your calendar so when something comes up you can truthfully say you have another commitment. What gets scheduled is what gets done.
- Record your goals in a document that you can easily review in order to stay on track. Try Evernote, Excel, or even a notebook. Include your wins – the milestones achieved, like losing your first 10 pounds, and check it off when you finally complete your goals.
- Recognize the difference between a goal and a habit. It’s often necessary to establish habits in order to achieve your goals, but the habit itself may or may not be a goal. In order to realize your goal of writing a novel, you could decide to develop a habit of writing 500 words every day. But, you might also decide this year to write a thank you note to someone every day which would be a habit and also a goal.
- Replace your excuses with reasons why these goals are important to you. Write out your motivations and review your list weekly. Being convinced to run 5 days a week in order to live a long healthy life and enjoy your grandchildren is a powerful motivator only when you are regularly reminded.
- Rebel against convention. Who’s to say you’re too old to bike across the country or too young to start a business? Doing the same old thing led you to a sad, unfulfilling place. You can be that person who does the remarkable.
- Reduce your huge list of goals. It’s better to have a smaller list you can focus on and add to it as you complete each goal. There are only so many hours in the day – can you really read a book, run 50 miles, add 10 new clients, date your spouse, volunteer at your favorite organization, call your mother, declutter a room in your house, and write a chapter of your book every week? Better to narrow it down to 5-10 goals then add other goals later.
- Reject attempts to get you off track. The friends who invite you out to happy hour when you’re dieting or abstaining from alcohol can easily derail you, but they aren’t the ones responsible for you meeting your goals. Choose options to enjoy their company in ways that align with your needs and priorities, such as meeting at the park for a walk or game of tennis.
- Report to a few trusted family members or friends who will support your goals and keep you on the hook. Sometimes, loved ones may not always support our goals. If your goals are truly aligned with your priorities and where you are in life, you may need to find someone else to encourage and hold you accountable along the way. Just don’t resort to spilling it all out on Facebook or someone you know might decide to belittle you and your goals, leading to discouragement.
- Readjust your goals if they become impossible to accomplish or even too comfortable. If you become ill with the flu the week of your marathon, you might not be able to run it, but you could schedule another later in the year, or run 2 half marathons. The Couch to 5K program got too easy? It’s time to up your game to the Couch to 10K program.
- Regain momentum if you get off track. Things happen – we experience unscheduled catastrophes and have unplanned expenses. A family tragedy or emergency will have to take precedence, but it doesn’t last forever. Get back to your goals and routine as soon as you possibly can.
- Recruit professional help. Hire the best coaches and trainers you can to lose that weight, regain your health, or take your business to the next level. Can’t afford a coach? Find a group to join to reduce the expense or look for free resources. With an unlimited supply of videos, websites, e-books, or online communities on the internet, there’s no excuse to not find the expert guidance you need.
- Recharge with adequate rest, nourishing food, and time spent with those who love and support you. If you get off track or out of balance in your goals in pursuit of too many work or business goals, you may become too exhausted and drained to pursue other goals and responsibilities.
- Remain steadfast in your commitment. There will be days it feels too hard, you’re unsure of the next step, and the cost feels too high. Getting out of debt may require forgoing vacations, passing up eating out, and partaking many meals of beans and rice. When the sacrifices feel the greatest is when you can be sure you are closest to a breakthrough.
- Reward yourself! Celebrate big and little wins before moving on to the next goal. This is easy to overlook, but imperative to recognize we are advancing on our goals. Did you pay off one of your debts? It’s time for a modest dinner out or a trip to the movies. Did you lose 10 pounds? Buy yourself that FitBit or a new workout shirt. I accomplished a writing goal this week and celebrated with a glass of wine and a relaxing evening at home with my husband.
Before the week or month gets away, take the time to examine your life, establish your priorities and determine what you want your future to look like. If you need help, I encourage you to look into Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever program. I’m not an affiliate so receive no benefit if you sign up. But as someone who has completed the program for the past 2 years, I can tell you it’s an excellent resource to bring closure to the past and get clarity on what you want to accomplish in 2016. What goals will you be pursuing this year?