“A good beginning makes a good end” – old English proverb
The New Year’s Eve parties are over and we have launched into 2016 (maybe lurched into it for some who partied a bit too hardy). So; now what? Does the start of each new year really mark a whole new beginning for most people; a chance to start over or to change their lives through the resolutions that that make? Well, maybe it could provide that new beginning; but only if you really want to change.
Every new day is the first day of the rest of your life; so that hackneyed old saying certainly applies. New Year ’s Day will only be different from any other day to the extent that you commit to make it different. If nothing else, New Year’s Day gives many of us a day off to reflect on where we are and where we’d like to go from here. We can spend the day in a hang-over stupor, watching football games and munching on party leftovers or we could spend some time on a serious self-examination of our current state and our goals in life; and give some thought to what we need to do to reach those goals.
I’ve never espoused beating oneself up or wallowing in despair about the past. It is what it was; but the past does not have to dictate your future. One technique that I’ve written about here before is the one used by many successful people in various walks of life and by athletes in particular – visualization. Spend some time visualizing the future that you want, but don’t dwell on that far-out goal for too long or it turns into just a dream. Instead, start backtracking from that goal and try to “see” the steps that are necessary to get to that goal. Those steps become your intermediate goals; the little things that when all are completed will result in you achieving your goal in life.
Breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps is another trick of successful people. It allows them to manage their time and efforts in ways that keep them moving towards their goals. Being able to see and then achieve small steps in the lengthy journey to your ultimate goal also allows you stops along the way to celebrate and rejuvenate. There will be no marching bands and parades to celebrate those little victories. Most times a quiet little fist pump by yourself or a smile on your face may be the only indication that you’ve meet an intermediate goal.
Some have found that having someone act as an accountability partner helps. I wrote about that in this blog a few days ago. Many people find that sharing their goals with someone, announcing their plans to them and then asking them to hold you accountable for achieving those plans helps keep them on track. One cannot let one’s self off the hook as easily when you have to report back to an accountability partner why you did not do what you said you were going to do. The other benefit is that it gives you someone to celebrate those small victories with once you have completed a step in the process.
Back to the question at hand; what will you do to make the New Year different from last year? IF your goals remain the same as last year what differences in your approach to achieving them can you take? What did you learn in the past year about yourself and about the process necessary to get to your goals? Can you “see” the steps necessary to achieve those goals? Where are you in the process? What are the next steps? What do you need to do tomorrow, next week or next month to make steady progress towards those goals? Do you have the needed prerequisites – education or training/skills or tools – to be able to achieve those goals. If not; should acquiring those prerequisites be an intermediate goal?
Break it all down and then be honest with yourself about where you are today and what the next few steps need to be. Some may find it helpful to actually chart out what they see as the steps needed to achieve their goals. Drawing things out in sequence and on a timeline may help you see the holes in your current plans and perhaps help you set a more realistic timetable for yourself. Using that technique may also help you identify the prerequisites that you need to plan into the process, which will further impact the timeline. If you break it down into small and achievable steps it makes it easier to set short-term goals for yourself and to see the progress that you are making.
So, here we go into 2016. What have you got planned for this week and next that are steps along the way towards your goals? As you achieve those intermediate steps, don’t forget to take time to congratulate yourself on your progress. Also take time every month to review your plan to see, based upon your new experience, if you need to add some things to your drawing. That’s not a setback. That’s experience turning into wisdom and a wiser you is much more likely to achieve those goals.
Have a great journey towards your goals in 2016 and congratulations on taking the first steps today.