I love new beginnings. Starting a new year, chapter or phase brings with it new possibilities and hope.
Whether you want to improve your financial situation, increase your health or fitness, find true love or find your dream job, at the start of a new cycle we often feel that we have another chance to realize our goals—including those we tried but didn’t achieve before. I find this space of possibility and opportunity extremely empowering and exciting.
However, in order to truly experience a fresh start, you have to first understand and accept the fact that new possibilities and hope exist in your own heart and mind, not in the external circumstances. In fact, your ability to realize a fresh start depends on how you think and speak. The only person who can give you a fresh start and new beginning is you.
For example, I have a friend who has had his share of challenging circumstances. Every time I ask him how he is doing he says something to the effect of “Same day, different shit!”. Pretty much every time I talk with my friend about new possibilities and try to help him change his predicament, he is quick to push back and explain to me how things just can’t be different given his circumstances. I haven’t given up on him yet, but I am definitely less inclined to engage in these conversations any longer.
As another example, in my corporate work, I often encounter people who say they are open minded but when others try to enroll them in new possibilities, they are quick to push back and provide all the reasons for why these new ideas won’t work. When I point this out, they explain that their point of view is simply pragmatic, realistic, or merely giving an accurate account of the way things are. But most people around them experience them as skeptical, cynical, closed-minded or often simply negative.
Sometimes in order to create a fresh start you need to let go of old perceptions about yourself, the world, and/or people around you—especially the perceptions that have constrained your ability to improve yourself and your circumstances. Sometimes you need to forgive others or even harder – yourself – for past mistakes, shortfalls and disappointments that you are still holding on to, or holding a grudge about. And, sometimes you simply need to change your point of view, interpretation or conclusion about past events from disempowering to empowering.
And, if you are reading this and thinking to yourself: “I am so open minded, that I can’t see where I could improve in this area?” my advice to you is – ask someone who knows you well, loves you and who will tell you the truth to give you feedback, and then receive their input with openness.
In order to create 2017 as a great year, start by explicitly and boldly declaring what you want to, and what you will achieve in the new year. The notion of striving and working toward a future state that you are looking forward to and are excited about today is a very empowering one.
Use whatever framework works best for you to capture your objectives.
Here is one option that you may find helpful. Use the following questions as steps to create your 2017:
- What are the key areas of my life that I would like to move forward in 2017? By areas I mean life categories that would help you organize your thoughts. Potential areas could include Finances, Career, Job, Health, Family, and Love etc.
- In each of the key areas – what are the specific objectives I will achieve? In each area, you will most likely have a few objectives. For examples your objectives could look like: (1) Double my income, (2) Find true love, (3) Deepen my intimacy with my family, and (4) Get healthy and fit.
- In each objective – what are the specific projects I will take on to fulfill my objective? For some objectives, there could be one project. For others, the objective will become the project. However, for the more complex objectives, you may need a few parallel projects. For example: If you have a commitment to get healthy and fit, you may have a few projects: (1) Register to the gym and go 3 times each week, (2) see a nutritionist and start eating based on a health plan, and (3) Get rid of all my old clothes and but X new ones. Make sure the projects have clear end results, milestones, and execution plan.
After you have mapped these three levels of areas, objectives and projects summarize all your actions for the next 90, 60 and 30 days and make sure you review them every week or two.
New Year’s Resolutions have a bad reputation mainly because we say them out-loud, but we don’t follow up and follow through on them. If you want 2017 to be different, share your objectives and projects with one or more of your closest friends, family members, and/or professional associates and ask them to hold you to account for your 90, 60 and 30-day action plan. Schedule follow-up conversations with them to review progress and adhere to these, even if you are behind.
You have a choice whether to make 2017 the best year ever or merely another year filled with compromised desires and cynical explanations.
I wish for all of us that 2017 will be the best year ever!
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