With the dramatic changes in our economy and in our society, it’s no wonder that many of us are asking ourselves, "Now what do I do?" while looking for more order and certainty in an uncertain world.
The New Year brings the opportunity for change. For many us, it's the time to think about resolutions. Often these resolutions are the same ones that we make every year or the ones we only stick to for a few weeks.
If it’s ever been a struggle to create what you want most in the New Year or to keep to your resolutions, consider that your goals and the strategy to achieve them may not serve you best.
Resolution is defined as, "The process of reducing to simpler form." Which brings us to the paradox of resolutions: instead of simplifying our lives, we wind up dumping more tasks, goals or projects on our “to do list” thinking that by achieving more, our lives will be more fulfilling and successful in the New Year.
To make and keep your resolutions with the least amount of effort, start with upgrading your attitude and your strategy to achieve greater results. To begin, here are ten resolutions that will enable you to maximize your potential and manage your life.
1. Quit Tolerating
Many people confess that although their life or career is moving forward, they find their time is consumed with being dragged down by unwanted situations, problems or other people's behavior. Not overwhelming individually, these tolerances have a way of building up until they affect productivity, cause stress and waste time and energy. These costly irritations can take on the form of an incompetent staff, poorly defined goals and strategies, lackluster results, weak relationships or undesirable customers. They prevent you from enjoying your life the way you envisioned. Since we need all the energy we can get, the alternative is to get rid of them, one by one. Make a list of the things you are putting up with. Then determine what would need to happen in order for you to give up or eliminate what you are currently tolerating. Once you begin removing these drains from your life, you'll stop wasting time trying to manage situations that shouldn't be there in the first place. Eliminating these tolerances will create more space and time in your life so you can focus on making this the best year ever!
2. Play Your Game
The best game to play is the one where you make up your own rules. Often, we collapse having choice with what we feel we "should" do based on what we were taught growing up or the constant bombardment from advertisements telling us how we should look, feel or structure our lives. When considering your resolutions, think of the things you really, really want to be doing as opposed to something you feel you "have to" or "should" be doing. If you're encountering resistance in reaching some goals, (a "should"), chances are it's either something you really don't want to be doing, an old goal that may not serve you anymore or you're operating from someone else's agenda! To tap into your fullest potential, exercise choice. Otherwise, you'll feel confined or powerless to make changes, allowing situations, circumstances or other people to influence or control you. Take the time to discover what YOU truly want by aligning your goals with the priorities in your life rather than the “Shoulds.” What would make this year an incredible year for you?
3. Create A Winning Routine
Busy with tasks that consume you and your energy? Feel that you’re fighting the clock? More and more people are recognizing that there is greater pleasure in simplifying one's life, as opposed to rushing around, filling our days with chores and to-do lists, or trying to keep up with overloaded schedules that result in keeping us buried in trivial tasks. Is your typical day putting you on the road towards burn out? In order to attract new and better people, experiences and results into your life, first clear out that which is clogging up your life in order to create the space and the room for the better stuff to show up. This includes both the physical as well as the emotional clutter that has filled up our lives. Since time is the most precious, non-negotiable commodity, choose to invest it in those activities that produce the greatest personal dividends. To achieve more, slow down. Desire less in your life. Delegate more. Slowing down and simplifying your life takes the discipline to choose peace over the chaos and adrenalized lifestyle that we have gotten accustomed to. Design a weekly routine that complements your goals so you can focus on the activities that support your objectives and enhance your lifestyle. This includes planning for the unplanned as well. Allow your routine to reflect a healthier relationship with time by underpromising on personal and professional deadlines so that time becomes your ally instead of your adversary.
4. Have Fun
Let's face it, this isn't our practice life! We spend about two thirds of our life working and sleeping. Although we often think that we will have more time to do the things we really want to, that other third is often spent handling other responsibilities, leaving us little time for ourselves to do the things we really enjoy. Having fun is no longer simply the byproduct of hard work or something we reward ourselves with after financial gain, but something we can fill our lives with on a daily basis. Ask yourself, "When am I most happy?" Are you doing the things that bring you the most joy? (It's never too late to have a childhood!) Find some time during the week that is your time. Even if that means taking an hour break to hit golf balls, meet a friend for coffee, take a walk or read a book, it's time well invested, allowing you to clear your mind of all the clutter that accumulates throughout the day. Go a step further and schedule an appointment with yourself for one FULL day each month that is just for you. This is your time to have fun and rejuvenate yourself. Doing so will provide you with some well-needed freedom. Otherwise, when is the big payoff?
5. Deepen Your Learning
Many of us consider learning the act of acquiring new information. The fact is, learning happens every moment of our lives. It isn't just about assimilating knowledge but recognizing the lesson in every experience, even the value in every message that each person shares with us, growing from it and moving onto a more productive path. While we draw into our life that which we need to learn, we often resist the lessons. Ask yourself, "When handling a problem, is it permanently eliminated or does it reappear?" If so, you didn't get the lesson the fist time or you missed out on a subtle, new opportunity/solution presented to you by someone who could have contributed to you. To accelerate your success, consider that every experience has a lesson to teach you and every person you interact with has some gift or knowledge worthy of sharing. When speaking with someone, become more sensitized to the value in the message, without discounting the messenger. To accelerate your success, allow each experience, even every person you come in contact with, to leave you with something valuable that you can learn and grow from in order to move onto a new and better path.
6. Expand Your Vision
What does your ideal life look like? Although we may have a greater vision for ourselves in the New Year, we often place a self-imposed limitation on our success saying, "But that's not being realistic." We never grow past what we feel is possible. Expand your peripheral sight by broadening your personal vision of what you think is probable. Alexander Calder once said, "A great artist is a great artist because they perceive the world as if it was observed for the very first time." Let go of your current perceptions that are inhibiting your ability to explore greater possibilities and achieve more. It's not enough to say I want to be happier, richer or healthier. Clarify what success looks like in every area of your life (career, relationships, well being, finances, environment, happiness, etc.) and WRITE IT DOWN. Without a clear vision of what you are working for, how will you know when you get it? After all, it's a lot easier to find something when you know what you're looking for It's your canvass. What masterpiece do you want to create? Dream BIG!
7. Transcend Your Beliefs
The Korean memorial says, "Freedom is not free." This holds true for our thoughts as well. Old limiting and confining beliefs often keep us prisoner, preventing us from creating better opportunities. We all have a set of rules formed through our upbringing, education and experiences that influence our decisions and shape our attitude towards life. The belief system we have in place may seem to work for us, since it's what we have operated from in order to produce certain results. It is a safe place for us to reside, since these rules or beliefs predict our probable reactions to experiences that create a somewhat familiar outcome. Unfortunately, it also stalls personal growth and development. Your outlook determines your outcome. So, if you believe, "The past is responsible for the quality of my life today," "Success requires sacrifice," "This is as good as it gets," or to "Expect the worst," consider challenging these assumptions and replacing them with healthier ones that would better serve you. Upgrade and direct your beliefs without them controlling you. (Otherwise, we would still believe that our flat Earth is the center of the universe.). Freedom is what you experience when you detach yourself from you current thinking, including the "That's just how it is" mentality. When you transcend your current beliefs and what you think is possible, you evolve your life.
8. Do Complete Work
Every New Year we begin a new task, project or idea that often goes unfinished, winding up on our "to do" list. We fail to complete them because something else that we would like to achieve or something that we perceive to be more important takes precedent over what we were doing. Then, we feel as if we "should" go back and finish the first task we started because somewhere during our development we were told that you should always finish what you start! So, feeling guilty for not completing the first task, we go back to working on the project or idea that we may no longer want to do or is no longer a priority. Look at the continuing cycle we've created for ourselves. Then we wonder why we never have enough time to "Do it all!" Pick one thing you want to change, create or finish and commit to seeing it through to completion. You don't have to attempt to achieve every resolution at once. (Otherwise, you may be an adrenaline junkie and love the rush associated when working on overdrive!) To prevent sporadic results and a pile of unfinished projects, get off the adrenaline train and start creating the momentum that produces consistent, long lasting results. Pick one project a month or one a year! The important thing is that you begin a new practice, project or habit and stick with it; one that enhances rather than consumes you. Instead of stopping and starting something, learn what it feels like to do complete work, then move on to the next project.
9. Focus On the Present
While planning for a great new year is healthy and productive, during our quest to accomplish more we often lose sight of what is occurring today, preventing us from enjoying the hidden gifts or treasures that are already present in our lives. Sure we live in the present, but is that where we are truly living and responding to in each moment? Consider that most of our time is spent either living in the past or in the future. Where is the focus of your energy and thoughts? Are you focused on making today great or on wishing you said or did something differently at different points in your life? Do you have an internal dialogue that begins with, "If only I…." or "I should have done that because then my life would have been better." In other words, responding to and "living in the past." Conversely, are you trying to get somewhere in the future, as in, "Once I make a certain amount of money, then my life will be complete, or "Once I finish this project and eliminate these problems, then I'll be happier and have more time for myself and my family." In essence, living in the future, a point in time that doesn't even exist! We often live, listen and react from the past or are pushing for something to happen in the future. To be fully present means you are able to focus on a single person, idea or topic. It means not having any preoccupations with the past or future, the two points in time we have no control over! Living in the past or in the future (vs. planning for the future) consumes our energy and time, since we are not responding to, engaged in and creating a great present. Being fully present takes practice, effort and focus. Living in, responding to and thinking in the present as opposed to worrying about what happened yesterday or what will be in the future will enable you to embrace the magnificence life offers today without sacrificing what is most important to you (friends, family, health, etc.) in an attempt to "get somewhere." Learn to master each moment in time, realizing that what is always takes precedent over was and what will be. If you can practice this, the quality of your life will greatly increase.
Although we want to better ourselves and our lives in the New Year, much of our decisions are governed by fear. We want more, but avoid risks, so we continually produce similar results over again. We fear change, for we may lose some degree of control over the outcome. We fear expressing how we feel or what matters most to us, in fear that it would make us vulnerable. We fear leaving what's predictable and comfortable, although it may not be best for us. We fear not having and not getting, having what we want and losing it, even getting what we want and no longer wanting it! We fear failure, because of the negative perception society has placed around it. (Realize that you cannot fail, you can only produce unexpected results that you can grow from to create new possibilities.) We resist what we don't understand, preventing growth by staying within what's familiar and safe. Resisting the fear of the unknown paralyzes our efforts to create greater opportunities for ourselves. The fact is, most of our fears are not based on logic or reality. They are an expectation or assumption of what MAY happen in the future and not what is happening in the present. Therefore, if we are pushed to avoid consequences or what we don't want to happen, conversely we are pulled towards what we do want; pleasure. Since fear is the negative assumption of the outcome, try shifting your focus on the positive or what you do want to manifest, instead of what you are looking to avoid. If you can stay in the moment as opposed to worrying about the negative assumptions of the future, the fears won't get to you. Embrace the belief that fear is trying to teach you something and allow yourself to experience the feeling of fear. Responding to fear in a healthier way will provide you with an opportunity to grow and learn, which leads to wisdom and greater results.
Keith Rosen is the CEO of Profit Builders. He has taken his years of management, business ownership and coaching experience into the business community where he provides personalized one-on-one and group coaching and corporate training to improve, build and manage your career and your life for optimum success and enjoyment. Keith has been the keynote speaker and executive coach for organizations such as GE, MCI WorldCom and the American Marketing Association. Being a pioneer in the coaching profession, Keith is one of the first to hold the designation of Master Certified Coach and is also a widely published columnist.