Happy New Year to you all. Just as quickly as it came, believe it or not we are already 10 days into 2016. I spent the first three days developing and capturing my goals for the year, and as recommended in my article “2015: A year of growth. Lessons learnt” they span all the key areas. In that time I was routinely greeted by questions from friends and associates regarding my New Year’s Resolutions. They like many people, without even knowing it had joined the ranks of the ‘New Year’s Resolutionists’. You know those persons who wait for every new year to wipe the chalkboard of their lives clean and rewrite resolutions in chalk, soon to be erased again for another run at futility. I myself have been amongst the fold. I have had my false starts every January in the gym proclaiming every year as the year I get in the best shape of my life. I have thrown out many supplements and once fresh vegetables that had remained unused. I have justified and renegotiated (albeit with myself) budgets and savings targets to ease the pressures of attempted frugal living. I have conjured up and shelved many seemingly good business ideas.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this jolt of new year zeal and energy. The challenge is the follow through; the “sticktoitiveness” required to bring dreams to fruition. The world isn’t devoid of new game changing concepts. However, what I have come to realize is that when it comes to ideas, most often it is not the grandest ones that are successful; but rather the simplest ones coupled with excellent execution.
So to increase our chance of success for this year; what if we moved from making a wish list of things we want, to a firm actionable list of things we wish to discontinue? This way we move from making New Year’s Resolutions to real a New Year’s Revolution. How do you join the revolution? Initiation is simple. I have decided to make a short list of things revolutionists should discontinue doing:
Procrastination: We should never put off for tomorrow what is meant to be done today. I know first hand how dreary working out can be, especially in the initial phases, but you will never get to the destination without enduring the journey. That business plan that you should write, get to it! You’ve been putting off starting school for years, the sooner you start the sooner it ends. That book you’ve been waiting to start writing, pen the first paragraph. By whatever means necessary get started. The 19th century philosopher and poet Henry Thoreau, put it most aptly when he said “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”. Let your grave be a bankrupt account; spend every penny of intellectual capital before you get there.
Worrying about the future: We should never try to do tomorrow’s task today. Close cousin to procrastination is anxiety. You know those people who are at work thinking about being home with their family and at home with their family thinking about work. When all is said and done they are never really anywhere. There is a reason why we get the year one day at a time. This is because that is exactly how it is meant to be lived. Many illnesses are borne of worry and anxiety. There are generally two types of situations we encounter, those for which we can control the outcome and those we cannot. If you can control the outcome then you won’t worry. So that leaves the uncontrollable outcomes. There are ways to deal with those things you cannot change. When faced with a difficult situation, I ask myself three questions: 1) What is the most likely outcome? 2) What is the absolute worst that can happen? and 3) What would I do if the worst should occur? After taking stock of the situation, I begin to put plans in place to deal with the most likely outcome. Simultaneously, I look at contingencies to address the absolute worst case. This way, I have ready options and courses of action to take in any eventuality. Do not worry! It will all be ok in the end. If it is not ok, it is not the end.
Negative Self Talk– We are our own worst critics. In Major League Baseball a batter with a 0.300 batting average is considered to be excellent. What is the point of this reference? A professionally trained, elite athlete is rewarded with millions of dollars in contract payments and endorsement deals; and showered with admiration and praise for getting it right 30% of the time. How many of us believe we get it 70% wrong in life? I am willing to bet that none of you do. However, we have become oriented to believe that we must be perfect in order to be of any worth. Whenever, we make a misstep we berate ourselves and end up causing the worst kinds of mental and emotional wounds; self-inflicted. Woosah… this too shall pass. For 2016, let us catch ourselves each time and nip the negative self talk in the bud.
Complaining– One thing we do with almost a matching degree of proficiency to negative self talk is complaining. “He is always late to meetings” No person is always anything. In each person is some good and bad, choose to focus on the good. “This job is the worst there is”. Why not leave? You’re doing yourself and your coworkers who wish to be there a great injustice by staying. Go find greener pastures. People who find a problem for every solution suck the joy out of living. The good news is if you are such a person this is the perfect time to change. Leave the complaining tendencies in 2015 and instead focus on solutions.
Quitting too soon- Anything worth having is worth fighting for. The trick is to be able to quickly assess what is worth having. Oftentimes when it seems like it is time to give up, is really when you are about to hit the tipping point of an idea. Successful businessman and motivational speaker Bob Proctor calls this the terror barrier. As he puts it the very next “cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek”. If you quit at everything, you finish nothing. Life has a way of rewarding those who finish the race.
2016 for me will not be a refresh and forget year. For certain I have made missteps in 2015. However, there are key things which can be applied to the new year. Whilst goal setting is mission critical for the year and for life in general, let us move away from feel good wish lists veiled as new year’s resolutions; let us create a powerful life changing new year’s revolution.
Join in the conversation. I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the things you will stop doing this year? How will you ensure you close 2016 strong?