These days leading up to the New Year can often be a mix of excitement and dread. (I know what I am talking about, because it is 3 in the morning as I write this, and I am up thinking about the next year — which is in days! — with that very same mix going on in my head!)
How can we end this present year, fully alive and really set on making the next one better? How can we put this year to bed with peace in our minds and hearts, and enter into the next full of hope — and most importantly, an assurance of success?
Let me share some tips I learned in 2017 that will really help us all end this year truly in peace, ready with anticipation for January 1 (and the days and months that follow).
1. End with gratitude.
If you are the kind of person who records their days in a journal, I recommend going through that journal and taking stock of everything you could be grateful for. Whether good or not good, give thanks. According to this Forbes article,
People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective. — How feeling grateful can make you more successful, Forbes.com
Ending the present year with a big picture view is definitely a more proactive approach to beginning the coming year right, filled with possibilities. When we choose to collect the good even from our failures, we are able to think like success-minded people who see everything as an opportunity to learn and grow.
The big takeaway here? If you failed a lot this past year, consider yourself rich in experiences that you can learn and grow from.
Which brings us to the next point…
2. Begin the coming year with the end in mind.
One of the things we often do when the year ends is only think about what we mean to do come January. Usually this falls along the lines of kicking an old habit or losing weight or starting a new project. Whatever the reason, we often fall into the same pattern of making good intentions, but never following through.
Instead of randomly deciding on a seemingly “nice” or “good” goal that has no consequences, we can take time to step back and really look at the big picture, that is, the end of the coming year.
Think about this for a minute.
When was the last time you made a new year’s resolution with a plan to make sure you kept to that resolution til the end of that year?Sometimes we blindly declare our desires but never put in the work so that we can see an expected outcome. Successful people see what they wish to have, then become the people they need to be, do what’s needed in terms of growth, acquisition of skills and mindset, before they finally have that which they resolved to do or have when they first established that particular goal.
What do I really want to achieve for myself in 2018? How will I achieve this; what do I need to be, and what do I need to do, so that during the coming year — before it ends — I will have achieved this goal?
The next tip is where we can find out the answers to these questions. Not only that; it will bring us back to the basics of decision-making and why we actually CHOOSE the outcomes we want.
Totally skews the saying “Life happens,” in this sense…
3. Start with WHY.You may have heard of or read Simon Sinek’s book of the same name, Start with Why. In it, he dissects what people must do first before expecting any measure of success in their life or business, and he recommends starting with a “why.”
People don’t buy what you do by why you do it.
If we relate this to how we end this year that is coming to a close, it might translate to “We don’t strive to meet our goals by what they are but rather why we must meet them.” This puts things into a clearer view for us. We get to ask ourselves questions like,“Why must I meet this specific personal goal of (state goal here). What will my life be like at the end of 2018, if I don’t reach my goal?””Why do I need to meet this second quarter goal? What will happen to my business if I don’t make this target by the end of the second quarter?””Why must I maintain regular exercise at least four times a week? What will my health be like if I don’t develop this habit.”If we can answer the question “why” for each of the good things we wish to accomplish in the coming year, then we virtually program our minds to be wired to meet those goals. Rather than just being fleeting wishes, we can break them down into digestible steps that we can accomplish through a given time.
4. After establishing why, then define how to achieve it.
No person with sense starts a journey without a map to the final destination. Think about it: Do we board a plane without knowing the destination, how long it will take to get there, and what we can expect when we arrive? It’s the same with starting the coming year with the end in mind. It’s about that saying that has become so famous, we forget what it actually entails:
We can design a life we love.
Yes! It’s true! And it becomes clearer and more concrete a design when we write it down, pinpoint the milestones we need to reach to achieve each step towards that lifestyle design.Will it be easy? No. Nothing worth pursuing that is meaningful is easy, but if the reason for achieving the goal is clear; if the “why” drives every step and action, then “ease” becomes relative.
For example: “Is it worth it to be 40 pounds lighter if I am overweight? I will write down what life could be like if that really happened.” Then, write it down! How will you feel? What will you be able to do, specifically, that you once couldn’t with all that weight? If you write down that outcome, chances are you will be most likely to achieve it.
Whatever the goal is, writing it down in a place where we will see it daily and be motivated by it is key to getting it checkes off our goals list.
Tip: I like to use The Five-Minute Journal to document if I am meeting my goal to be a better leader, for instance. Every day, I write in the app how I can make today better. Over the course of a few months, I can assess myself and see if I truly grew closer to meeting my goal. Any type of writing tool will do, as long as you can view the coming year from start to finish.
5. Remember to take daily actions to achieve your goal.
Daily, consistent actions are what build in us the habits of success. I can’t emphasize how absolutely necessary it is to build up to the milestones we set out to achieve as we reach for our goals.
I’ll use my own fitness journey as an example. When I started to take charge of my health, it was because I learned the long-term benefits of staying strong, lean, and internally healthy. I was so convinced of it that I enrolled in a wellness certification program that required me to improve my level of health first so that I could create a business from my wellness.
I made very specific health goals, but also wrote down why I wished to be the healthiest and fittest version of myself. (It has been around 8 months, as of this blog post, that I started my personal makeover of how I eat, how I work out, and I perform very specific actions daily to achieve my specific goals.
Some of my goals were:
- To fit into a size 6, from a size 10.
- To build lean muscle.
- To lose my post-pregnancy fat around my midsection, and to eliminate cellulite.
- To have more energy overall, being less prone to common colds
Some of the daily actions I needed to take were to:
- eat right (without dieting), eliminating foods known to harm my body (and hinder the progress I wanted to see); supplementing with whole foods and nutritionals; curbing the habit of snacking and over-eating;
- exercise, as a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle. I work out as fits my goals, up to 5 times a week. (My body looks for exercise.)
- sleep more, and with quality.
So, daily I have been implementing small but consistent habits that have resulted in all of these goals being met.
Steadily but surely, these habits added up.
- From not being able to do 5 minutes of high-intensity interval training in April, I am now able to do strength training with weights.
- To date, I am a size 4 to 6 now, depending on the clothes. That’s around 20 pounds lost in the last 8 months, while being able to build muscle and eliminate the “love handles” on the side of my body.
- I’ve also been able to help other people achieve similar results on themselves, which is great, too!
If you want to learn how to develop consistent habits that have a truly beneficial result that affects your life, get fit and well from within! In the same way that athletes train to perform at their optimal, becoming well from within makes you successful from the foundation of your very self: your body. (I mean without a healthy body, we can’t achieve any other kind of success!)
Are you excited to end now? I wish everyone reading this a happy New Year filled with possibilities! I hope these tips help you in some way. Let me know in the comments what you think!