‘New year, new me’ you often hear people say, the new year starts off with so much promise, but it never lives up to its potential. Why is that? Why do we start off strong and then lose our motivation somewhere along the way? It’s mainly because we start with some big, far-reaching goal and then fail to plan for it.
But it can also be when the passion for your goal is lost, or when you fail to remember the reasons why you’ve started. It’s the perfect time to get your life together, and you can only do that if you approach this year with a clear mind and a smart vision.
1. Review your strengths and weaknesses
The best place to start making incredible changes to your life would be to make an honest list of your strengths and weaknesses. If you struggle with this, what you can do is ask around, ask your friends and colleagues and write down what they say.
It’s really eye-opening to see your strengths and weaknesses laid out in front of you, and can help you see where you need to improve. Your strengths and weaknesses aren’t set in stone, you can always work on them and make improvements. So, if you’re ready to fix your life up start with what you’re good at and how you can use it, and look at what you’re weaknesses are and how you can compensate for them or build on them.
2. Make a plan for change
Change doesn’t happen overnight, you need to work actively towards it to make that change. You need to make a plan for it, list the little ways you’re going to make change happen. Are you going to do one thing that boosts your confidence every day? Is there a weakness you really need to work on if you want to be successful?
I always find the best way to make a plan is to open up my Goals 2019 Diary and start laying out micro deadlines for myself. Work out three days in a row, for example, or push myself to write for thirty minutes straight every Saturday. I’ve also got a list of rewards to give myself like a new computer, tickets for holiday, a facial, little and big things that I can reward myself with along the way.
3. Learn from someone else
If you have a goal, the best way to motivate and inspire yourself would be to learn from someone who’s been there and done that before. I signed up to Masterclass to learn about writing from Malcolm Gladwell, but there are so many other classes you can learn to help yourself get ahead, how about cooking with Gordon Ramsay or singing with Christina Aguilera?
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to learn from the people that inspire me, but there are other ways too. You might like to seek out a mentor in your industry, or find out when someone you admire is participating in an ask me anything thread.
4. Don’t spend too long thinking
Thinking leads to inaction. It’s the same with fear. Fearing an outcome can cause you to freeze up, instead of taking responsibility and getting it done. I know that in the past I’ve been guilty of both of these. Getting stuck in the research phase for too long, or getting too comfortable. If you want to make any changes in your life, you should plan well, but not for too long.
The best way you can change your life is by living it and making amendments as you go. Use the Getting Stuff Done planner to plan your best life every day.
5. Don’t change the actions, change the system
I read a really interesting thought piece by Seth Godin the other day, he talked about how he and his team made a lot of errors on a project. Each time they repeated the project, there would be less and less errors, but still errors nonetheless. He wanted to change everything about the project and the errors he made, but things were still going wrong.
Eventually they figured out the problem, they changed the system they used to work on the project and check it for errors, rather than changing themselves. Sometimes, when you’re trying to make big changes in your life and failing, you need to change the system, not your actions. Think about how this translates to your to-do list, do you need to change your weekly system to be more productive?
6. Track your progress
If you want to make big changes, you need to track your progress. You need to make a note of every time you do something well or complete a task and track your progress going forward. This way you’ll know that you’re on track. One genius way to do this would be to create a chain method. You simply need a monthly overview and a pen, and to write a cross for every day you do a certain action. This will make sure you’re disciplined and motivated and also helps you keep a record of you progress.
You can also add some self-reflection by writing notes every day on how it’s going and how you’re feeling.
7. Change the way you talk about yourself
Little tweaks to your language can make a huge difference. Firstly, and one that I’m most often guilty of, don’t say you can’t do something when you mean you don’t want to. Of course, there are exceptions, but this mostly applies to things like trying a diet, or working out, or running a marathon. We say, “Wow, I don’t think I could do that!”. When really, we could, if we pushed ourselves. This is a limiting way of talking about yourself, it implies that people who run marathons, or achieve great feats, have something you don’t. Instead, you want to say, “Wow, I don’t think I’d want to do that!”, because you could climb Mount Everest/go Vegan/perform in front of a thousand people if you wanted to, but the power is in your hands. You don’t want to do it.
You also need to delete all negative self-talk from your vocabulary. Only positive thoughts and positive words from now on. Everyone makes mistakes, own up to them and move on. You won’t grow unless you accept them and make changes.
8. Give yourself the tools you need
You need a set of tools to achieve success. There are so many online resources to help you get the tools you need, but nothing beats a good old pen and paper. Nothing in the world can limit my stationery obsession.
I would be lost without my planner and my daily layout for the day, I just need to write down what I want to achieve and how I’m going to do it to get it all arranged in my head. There’s so much to do and so many things to tick off, that it’s really important to take the time to write it all down.
9. Accept what you don’t know
I’ve been reading a lot to kick off the new year, and I read another really interesting piece by Malcolm Gladwell about the Ketchup Conundrum. Essentially, he was investigating why Heinz is the leading brand of tomato ketchup and no other brand has been able to knock them off the top spot. He writes this thoughtful, well-researched piece about all of the major players, and factors, in condiment development. He met with what’s considered the expert of this kind of thing, Howard Moskowitz. If anyone would know why nobody has knocked Heinz off the top spot, it would be him.
After spending a few days with him and writing this huge story about this expert, Malcolm ends the essay by basically saying, even Howard Moskowitz doesn’t know. This is powerful. Even the guy who should know, doesn’t. And he doesn’t pretend to either, he simply says, “I guess ketchup is ketchup.” And that’s the end of that. It’s a wonderful thing, not knowing. So accept the things you don’t know, there’s always an opportunity to learn.
10. Think like a leader
No matter what role you find yourself in, you have the capacity to be a leader. Being a leader means you will take action first in an emergency, others will rely on you to help them figure out what to do, and that people will gravitate towards you. Recently a story broke about a cheerful McDonald’s customer service worker who’s manner and conversations went viral. He’s since become a local celebrity. People actually film their interactions with him. He leads where others follow. In delivering a memorable service he has stepped out as a leader and become a ‘lynchpin’ of the company. He does things differently, he puts part of his heart and soul into his job and he is a leader.
Forget what you think you know about being a leader and simply be brave enough to do things differently.
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