It’s that time of year again – the last day of yet another 366-day period of the earth rotating around the sun – and it’s time to reflect on the year that was and start preparing for the year ahead.
Besides a hangover the size of Ayers Rock and possibly several trips to the outside recycling bin while cleaning up the empties, January 1st looms as the annual point where people get on social media sharing a “New Year New Me” meme and then publicly declare their New Year’s Resolutions (or as I like to refer to them, “those things we’d like to have in life, but won’t commit to for longer than 13 days into January once the realisation sets in that the silly season is officially over so that one chocolate won’t hurt”). And then cue the slippery slope downhill towards “the next holiday”.
So cast aside your posts about weight loss fantasies, resignation letters, winning the lottery and fixation with the Gregorian calendar (it seems that people align success with a calendar rather than actual get-off-arse action or smart goal-setting. Moral of the story: get a good calendar!), and let’s set some proper New Year New Me Resolutions!
1. Lose the Victim mentality
I thought I’d roll out with the big guns to open the bowling. Mid-way through last year, I read a book called “Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything” by John Izzo. It was a game-changer. Afterwards, even when the odds were heavily stacked in my favour as to me being 100% not at fault in a given situation, it seemed that if I said to myself, “I take responsibility and I could have made an alternative decision that would have had a more favourable outcome for me,” the problem almost immediately dissipated into the ether like how that crying baby’s tears magically dry up when you give them attention. Mind. Blown.
Alternatively, the message is to control what you can control and don’t let the (often irrational and highly emotional) reactions of other people impact on your life. Chances are, you will hold onto that negativity, while they will blissfully forget what they said or did about 5 minutes after the fact, as it was a chance for them to vent. So stop being a victim and take some personal responsibility. Your attitude to disappointment, discouragement or the shit that life will throw at you, is a choice.
Other recommended reading: The Third Space, by Dr Adam Fraser.
2. Start from zero every day
Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck was recently asked about his New Year’s Resolutions and how he sets and goes about achieving them. He rubbished them and said it is more impactful to make New Day Resolutions. Sure, have some goals for the year, but the great thing about re-setting the goal every day is that you reflect every day on what worked, what didn’t and adjust accordingly to ensure that you remain on track for the week/month/year-end goal.
It’s a bit like a rocket being sent into space; according to scientists at NASA, a rocket is only on course for 3% of the journey to the chosen destination. The continuous adjustments of its course due to new atmospheric conditions is a given and is planned for. Time to do the same in your own life – affirm your goals in the morning, give yourself praise for getting through the previous day and plot the best way forward for the day to come, while keeping the bigger (yearly or monthly) goal in sight. And then, most importantly, get off your arse and execute the required actions.
3. Become coachable and allow yourself to be led
This is one that I very recently learnt and it took a lot of swallowing of pride. We can’t be all-knowing and we can’t be always right. Not even a Mastermind competitor can know everything – there is too much information out there, conflicting information and constantly changing for it to be the case. Besides, no-one likes a smart-arse, but others are attracted to smart people. Ironically, your reputation as a smart person is amplified by asking (better) questions. It shows intrigue and humility all in one neat package, and people are more likely to help you.
So find a mentor who has got the result you are after, or even just an impartial person whose opinion you value (and who won’t criticise you for not taking their advice but rather will be there to assist when your choice doesn’t work out), and allow them to lead you to the result. Not only is it efficient in terms of time, it’s efficient in terms of minimising the noise that comes with conflicting information. You will open yourself up to a world that you never thought was possible!
4. Learn to have a Growth Mindset
Otherwise known as the “can-do attitude” from some Scouting journal in the 70s. Ever wondered why cricket scores are trending north? Why Usain Bolt keeps pushing the supposed impenetrable barrier for the fastest time over 100 metres? Or why you can eat more chocolate and drink more beer than the previous Christmas? This is because our comfort zones are really just the previous ‘records’ or levels of achievement. So we subconsciously are always achieving, whether we intend to or not!
The point being is that besides death, not much can stop us from getting better at things. There are those who have a fixed mindset and believe that talent and skill are limited internal assets and that you’re born with them and can only reach a maximum level of either; whereas those with a growth mindset think that there is always scope to push the boundaries. So rather ask, “How can I do that?” instead of, “I can’t do that.” And even if you’re passing this off as mumbo-jumbo hogwash, just try being open to the possibility that it’s true. What have you got to lose?
5. Manage your priorities, then your energy, then your time
In a blog from a while back, I mentioned the following quote: ” ‘I don’t have time’ is the grown-up version of ‘The dog ate my homework’ ”
Essentially, you can make the time or make excuses, but you can’t make both. Resetting your priorities and goals every day, as per the above point, will ensure you track towards your stated longer-term goals and minimise time wastage.
Another hot tip is to listen to or watch the news less – what an unmitigated waste of time that is. Trust me, if it’s important enough and will directly impact you, you’ll find out. My advice is to rather read or listen to a book for 10-15 mins a day and chip away at one than filling your brain with fear or anxiety.This obsession with the news can obliterate an hour or more a day of precious time. Too busy to exercise? Stop watching the news or A Current Affair. Or if you really want to be “kept informed”, find an exercise routine you can do in front of the TV (see Growth Mindset above). Bingo.
Final Word of Good Luck!
So there we have it. Five things (obviously not limited to the above!) that are relatively skill-free, aren’t as daunting as you think and will help re-program your brain to be more receptive to achieving success, whatever and however, you define that for yourself. Hopefully, you will find these to be the solid foundation you require in order to have a red-hot crack at 2017!
Read Part 2: 5 (more) achievable New Years’ Resolutions