Are you where you thought you would be as the New Year begins?
Have you put off changes that you need to make?
Are there people zapping your energy and robbing you of what you could achieve?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, here are 9 crucial actions that can help ensure that 2011 will be a great year for you. These actions can put your life on a different path. It’s like flipping the switch on a train track — the initial change is minimal, but down the line the difference can be enormous.
1. Distance yourself from the dream crushers, naysayers, and negative influences. Just like we are what we eat, we are a product of the people with whom we spend time and the information we digest. With whom are you surrounding yourself? What are you reading? How much are you dwelling on negative news stories? I am not suggesting that we put our heads in the sand. I am suggesting that we fill our minds with the influences that empower us. Take the time to clean house.
2. Let go of the garbage that you are carrying. Reach out to someone you have written off (but still think about), or to someone you have given up on or with whom you had some problem. Talk to that person and do what it takes (legally of course J) to reach some sort of resolution and put the situation behind you. Ask the other person, “What would it take for us to put this behind us?” Their input can help you create a solution that works for everyone. By reaching out and having a conversation, you are extending the olive branch. This can create a new beginning and trigger conversations and events that can ultimately change your life. Remember: forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Make 2011 the year you give that gift. (For more information on our 7-step procedure on how to forgive and let go of anything, check out the corresponding chapter in Honesty Works: Real-World Solutions to Common Problems at Work and Home.)
3. Live 2011 with a long-term perspective. Ask yourself these questions: “When I am 90 years old and I look back at 2011, what do I want to say happened? What do I want to say that I accomplished?” Be clear and honest with yourself about what is important to you in your relationships, in your job, and in your life. This might sound simple, but sadly many people drift year after year and let time pass without really figuring out what is most important to them. Remember, time is one commodity we can never replenish. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. When you are not sure what to do, think about what your ninety-year-old self would tell you to do in 2011. Then take action.
4. Stop negotiating things that are not negotiable. Are you suffering because you are being flexible and letting go of your standards and principles that are important to you? Decide what is negotiable vs. what is really not negotiable to you. If you are not clear, how can others be? Then let others know and take a stand. Many people get inspired when boundaries are set because clarity gives them power to focus their time and energy on areas of flexibility.
5. Find out what the important people in your life want and manage expectations. You can use this question as a starter: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate our relationship?” (Or “this project,” or “my effectiveness in this job.”) Listen to their answer, and then ask, “What would it take to make it a 10?” For extra credit, ask, “What would it take to make it a 15 — above and beyond expectations?” Be ready for an interesting and — hopefully — helpful response. The next step (and this is important) is to manage their expectations. I have found that people, groups, and organizations do not often get the credit they deserve because they do not adequately manage other people’s expectations of what can and cannot be accomplished.
6. Appreciate five really important people in your life that you might have neglected. Sometimes we take for granted the people who are important to us. Take time to really let them know how much you appreciate them. After all, I have never met anyone who has left a company or wanted a divorce because they were appreciated too much.
7. Commit to changing at least one behavior and being accountable in a public way. What behavior of yours do you really want to change? What if I were going to give you a billion dollars to change it? What if your life depended on making this change? The truth is that if you really want to achieve this change, you will. So set up an accountability and consequence to insure you will make that change. For example, if you find yourself repeatedly complaining about a particular issue and you want to stop being so negative, tell five people you are going to stop complaining about the issue. Every time you complain about it, give them each a dollar. If you really want to commit to being home by a certain time, tell your significant other that if you do not make it on time, you will grant any wish or pay for a nice dinner of their choice. The point here is to send a message that your promises are not empty and you are committed to changing the behavior. Being accountable is one of the most important ingredients in lasting change.
8. Decide on your number-one goal and create a plan to achieve it. Make sure your goal is measurable and that there is a deadline for completion. You might think this is simple — and it is — but people often neglect to set clear goals or create so many that they do not accomplish any. I see this frequently with organizations that have so many goals that people do not know on which to focus. The result is they try to focus on many and often achieve little. Remember confusion causes delay and often failure. Clarity and focus gives us power and inspiration to achieve.
9. Look out for one another. When I was growing up, I often sat alone at lunch — not because I wanted to, but because I did not know how to reach out and ask for help. Just because someone is alone and does not ask for help does not mean they really do not want help. Maybe they have a hard time asking for help, or maybe they are embarrassed that they need help, or maybe they think no one would help them even if they asked. So reach out and make someone’s day… or year!
Regrets can plague us for the rest of our lives, but they don’t have to. Seize the moment and make sure that 2011 is your best year ever. After all, you deserve it.
If you need help or assistance, let me know.
Please share this article with others as a gift to help make their 2011 all it should be.