Happy New Year! We made it another year! Looking at all the social media posts, it appears many people are happy to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. But what is going to change in 2018 to ensure it's better than 2017? What worked well last year that you want to continue in this year? What didn't work well that you want to change?
It's dangerous to think that simply turning a page on the calendar is all it takes to create this new and improved version of ourselves. It takes much more than a "new year" and a couple New Year's Resolutions for self-improvement. So where do we start?
Pen and paper - Let's make a list of our "wins" and "opportunities" in 2017. After all, how will you know what needs to change or sustain in 2018 if we don't get organized.
It is important to identify the behaviors that need to stop and the behaviors that need to continue. Now that you have a list of "wins" and "opportunities" it's time for some critical thinking. Were you just lucky or did you earn that win? What did you do to become successful? Whatever it was that helped you win, that's something you want to do more of in 2018.
Now caused the opportunities to happen? Was it a stroke of bad luck or something in your control? A bad decision? Didn't put enough effort in? Figure out why it happened and eliminate or change that behavior; turn it into a win for 2018.
This isn't easy and it's definitely not if you're incapable of really taking a hard look at and holding yourself accountable. Don't kid yourself. Be honest. Be humble. You will only be cheating yourself along with your growth and development if you don't do this honestly and dig deep inside.
Why do we write all this down? Just thinking about it in your head isn't enough. Make it visible. It's the whole "seeing is believing" mentality. Additionally, seeing it will be a constant reminder.
Here are some more things to write down (and I challenge you to find one successful person that doesn't do the below):
Monthly Goals - Write out three short term goals you can accomplish in 30 days. These are "quick wins" that help keep us motivated. Winning creates a greater appetite to repeat and continue behaviors/processes that work. Once you achieve your goal, write another to replace it. If you don't succeed, continue it next month until you do.
Quarterly Goals - Same thing here; write three goals that you can accomplish in 90 days. These are still short term goals but will take more effort and time (patience) to succeed. Same rules, once you accomplish create new goals. If you fail, keep going until you succeed. Once these goals are accomplished, you will really start to see a change within yourself. Your confidence will rise and your desire to improve will grow even greater.
Yearly Goal - Choose one goal you can accomplish by the end of the year. This is the biggest goal you can go after. If you reach this goal, it will make you feel amazing. You will brag about it to everyone you know...you will post on Facebook how you achieved this goal. Achieving this goal will solidify the year and have you saying "2018 was a fantastic year!"
Advice: Make sure you have a mix of personal and professional goals. Heck, have it all be personal goals if you want. Just don't make it only about work. Hopefully that advice doesn't need an explanation.
*It is assumed that you are aware of how to create a goal...how it shouldn't be too easy but not impossible either. If you are uncertain on how to create goals, there is plenty of information available to guide you.
OK - now that you have everything written down, now what? It's time to internalize them. It's time to live and breathe it every single day. Here's how:
Daily Reminders - Read your 2017 "wins" and "opportunities" and 2018 goals every day, 7 days a week. Remind yourself each day what worked and didn't work in 2017 and what your goals are for this year. Don't be confident that you will just remember and incorporate all this because you wrote it all down. We are all too busy and consumed in work, life, family, friends, personal time, etc.
I like to put these on flash cards. Something small I can put inside my Moleskin notebook and carry with me every day. I put a daily calendar reminder in my phone and call it "Daily Affirmations" (don't forget to put the calendar reminder on!). The reminder goes off, I stop what I'm doing, and I read the flash cards. This will take 2 minutes of your time daily. You might feel silly at first, but make sure to read it out loud. You need to hear it every single day.
Display It - Display the 2017 "wins" and "opportunities" along with your 2018 goals. Put this somewhere you will see it every single day. It's ok if it's seen by others. There is nothing wrong with people knowing you have goals and want to succeed, both personally and professionally.
By reading your flash cards and seeing your notes daily, it will become ingrained. The likelihood of you working to achieve your goals is far greater when you participate in it daily.
Think about it. We all have made goals before. Why have we failed in the past? I bet a majority of the time is we simply lost focus on the goal and stopped working towards accomplishing them. We moved onto something else. Why? Because we forgot about our goals. We get caught up with work and life. Don't let that happen. Make it apart of your daily routine.
My final suggestion for a successful 2018 is stress management, mental health:
Daily Meditation - Some of you are already doing this and others think it's just a bunch of _____ (fill in the blank). For those who are not meditating, reconsider it. Meditation is one of the oldest portals to the transformative realm of consciousness—your essential identity. The power of this essential you, free of habitual problematic thinking, is what Einstein talked about when he said: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” (Forbes.com, December 11, 2017, Trusted Meditation Experts Explain Why You Should Start Meditating In 2018).
Shameless plug: I use an app on my iPhone called "Breathe" for meditation (and yoga). When you open the app, it asks you how your day is going and you check off words that describe your mood. From there it gives you a meditation exercise that will help you with your current feeling. I love it. It's easy and only takes a few minutes to do.
Ever since I have incorporated meditation into my life, I have seen amazing results. Specifically, my stress levels are much lower and my ability to not overreact or lose control of my emotions has greatly lessened. Don't take my word for it. There is so much research available from credible sources regarding the benefits of meditation.
I assure you its not hard. It's not time consuming. You have much more to gain by doing it than not.
Ready to take on 2018? Ready for some real self-improvement that is focused and habitual? I'm ready. I know you are too. I wish you peace, health, success, and growth in 2018. Here's to working on a better you (for yourself).