January is the time of year when people proudly proclaim that this new year is guaranteed to be their best yet. They have a vision board. They've posted their goals on social media. They're filled with hope that 2020 is inevitably going to be better.
Then those same people will get to the end of the year and question why 2020 wasn’t their year like they believed.
I appreciate vision boards and how they can help us visualize the future plan, but only when a plan is put into place to help make the vision a reality. Most people get excited about a vision board party, create their board for the new year….
… and then store them in a drawer or closet, never to look at them again.
That’s not how you bring a vision to life nor how you make this year your best one. It requires some specific steps in order to achieve success. Steps that require intentional action on one’s part in order to create the change in this year that they desire to see.
In order to make this year your best year, you’ll need an intentional plan of attack that keeps you present at the moment while helping you build and maintain momentum every day. Here are five steps to start you on the path to creating your best year.
1. CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR GOALS FOR THE YEAR
If you don’t know exactly what you want, how will you ever expect to get it? One of the main reasons most people fail to capitalize on the new year is they set vague goals. Research has shown that individuals who set very specific goals (that will be challenging to reach), increased their performance substantially over those who set unclear or easy goals.
Know exactly what you want to achieve this year so you can create a very specific plan to obtain it.
2. THEN TEACH YOURSELF TO FOCUS ON JUST TODAY
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy shared that she believes the biggest mistake people make when going after a major goal is that they focus solely on the outcome instead of the process.
It’s important to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve (outcome) but turn your attention to the day-to-day action steps. Just like running a marathon, stop focusing solely on the finish line so you can focus on taking that next step.
If you want help maintaining your focus on today, watch this short video on Going 366-0 in 2020. It’s solely focused on helping you focus on the process step of today.
3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE ON A WEEKLY BASIS
Growth isn’t found within the confines of your comfort zone. You’ll need to commit to leaning into discomfort and fear on a weekly basis in order to ensure your career/health/personal growth this year. It can be something as simple as trying a new workout regime, talking to a stranger at a coffee shop, or even signing up to go skydiving.
We grow by creating new experiences, not staying within the lines of what we habitually do. Challenge yourself each week to try something new and gain confidence in your ability to face (real or imaginary) fears.
4. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
It’s hard (dare I say impossible) to achieve any goal of significance without believing in yourself. It’s this internal belief that helps us persevere through the challenging trials, get back up from setbacks along the way, and continually reminds us that we CAN. It’s imperative to making this year your best year.
A few positive actions you can take toward increasing your self-belief start in this list. Getting outside of your comfort zone each week builds your confidence. Focusing on today and the short-term checkpoints along the route to your big-picture goal help you maintain motivation and “can do” attitude. Add in the practice of building your positive self-talk (discussed in this Compete Every Day podcast episode), and you’ve created a formula for increasing your self-belief.
One exercise I’ve found helpful when I’ve lacked positive belief in myself (or my situation) is to ask myself one question, “How would the person I want to become respond to this moment?” That simple reframing in my head gives me a clear answer of what the right step forward should be. I may not be 100% confident (honestly, no one is in that moment), but I do understand that to become that future person I desire to be, I need to act in the same way today.
Some people may say that “faking it until you make it” is bad. I, on the other hand, believe that overcoming the times we lack confidence in ourselves requires that we talk and act like the person we want to be until we grow into them – even if we don’t feel like them yet.
5. STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT, NOT WHAT’S IMMEDIATE
I know all about living in a state of constant distraction. I struggle with my ADHD daily and as my team knows, battled “shiny object syndrome” early in my career. I would fly through my to-do list, accomplishing all of my immediate tasks – but rarely making time for the important tasks I actually needed to complete. I had to train myself to focus each day on the most important work and block out the distractions of the immediate.
This philosophy goes beyond work too.
We become stressed, worried and frantic when we are constantly distracted by things in the immediate.
- There’s not enough time!
- How will I ever achieve ______?
- I’m just not there like so-and-so
Our focus bounces sporadically like a squirrel chasing acorns. We lose focus on what’s most important in our work, our relationships, or our health because of something in the immediate.
- We quit a specific nutrition program because we ate one bad meal.
- We fail to make time for that project because we lacked motivation that morning.
- We stress that we’ll never reach that goal because the distance to it seems like forever.
We allow our feelings and focus to be concentrated on this immediate minute instead of looking at the big picture. One meal won’t break our nutrition programming. We don’t actually need the motivation to complete that project, we just need to do the work. That goal may seem far off but we can get there if we take it a day at a time.
Your focus can determine your fate, so the success of this year depends on training yourself to focus on the important instead of the immediate distractions.
SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND…
One thing to keep in mind: all five of these steps may be for naught if you’re not intentional about the type of people you surround yourself with. I’ve recorded a number of podcast episodes about the importance of our “Starting Five” in life (like this one) and how the relationships we spend the most time with influence our chances of success or failure.
For a Competitor to truly capitalize on making this year their best yet, they’ll need to carefully select who they invest their free time with and surround themselves with other growth-mindset individuals striving to make this year their best one yet.
We each have the ability to create our best year in 2020 if we’ll commit to a specific plan and doing the work. Imagining your best year won’t create it. Your actions will.