A tumultuous and challenging 2020 for everyone is coming to a close so it’s time to turn the page to 2021 and a new year of opportunities to live your Best Life!
Before you say goodbye to 2020, as challenging as it might seem at first glance given the COVID world we’ve experienced, take a moment to reflect and feel good about what improvements took place in your life this year.
With life moving so fast these days, and with so much negativity being shown on the news, we all tend to selectively remember things. Especially good things!
There’s a concept known as primacy in recency, which means we tend to recall what just occurred vs. what occurred at some moment in the past.
We then put more emphasis on what recently occurred and forget to contrast what’s true in your life today vs. last year at this very time.
Because of this, it is increasingly important to pause, take stock, and proactively recall the positive. So, before you do anything, STOP and take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months.
Write down anything and everything that comes to mind. For example:
- Health (without it, nothing else matters very much),
- Vacations taken: did you take the vacations that you planned on, or did they have to go on hold?
- Fitness: did you stick with your plan?
- Projects: did you have any projects that you wanted to complete? (house, business, etc.)
- Books read (it’s been said that the difference between who you are now and who you’ll be in 10 years will be the books you read and the people you meet and interact with)
- Time spent being “present” with your family?
After listing them all out, take an extra minute and, for each one, write down:
- Why it was important to you
- What further progress you’d still like to make in that area, and
- What’s the first step you need to take right now to do so
Keep your momentum going by taking the next step immediately!
What this first step does is allow you to recognize success in your life. That it’s not only possible, but that it has already occurred.
While experiencing this higher level of confidence, now it’s time to move into your bigger and better life going forward.
Yes, better! What keeps you alive and vibrant is knowing that your future will be even more bright than your past.
In today’s world of massive distractions, mixed messages, and more and more people vying for your attention to advance their own personal agendas, it becomes more and more important to take greater and greater responsibility, ownership, and control over your life.
Don’t allow anyone or anything to distract you from living exactly the way you want.
A Clear Statement of Priorities
The secret to this is to clearly state what’s most important to you. If you don’t, others will do it for you and you will be on your deathbed someday questioning why your life turned out the way it did.
I’m a big believer in having lots of clearly defined goals going all the time; some big, some small. It’s what keeps me going.
I certainly don’t accomplish every one of them, nor do I accomplish them on the timeline I set.
However, having them keeps me focused and allows me to “filter out” and prioritize when confronted with the myriad of options available to me at any given moment in time. This alone makes this process worth it.
It’s natural for everyone to want to improve their lives. Pursuing what’s in your rational long-term best interest is not something that has to be taught.
You’re born with that inside of you. And, as long as you don’t use force or fraud against others to achieve what you want, you should never be discouraged from doing so no matter how guilty someone else tries to make you feel.
Progressing Toward Something
The most exciting part of life is knowing that you’re progressing toward something. And, that’s why it’s so important to have written goals (clear statements of what’s most important to YOU), not just weakly stated ones like “new year’s resolutions” that go sour the moment you state them.
A crystal-clear statement of what you want (goals) has a way of magnetically pulling you forward to what’s most important to you. However, like anything else, it requires action on your part. You have to constantly and consistently evaluate and adjust your approach.
I actually began doing this way back in high school. Writing down my goals actually led me to change high schools before my senior year. (As you can imagine, the overwhelming majority of friends and family members weren’t exactly thrilled with my decision.)
However, had I not done so, I wouldn’t have been recruited by and attended Holy Cross College. Had I not gone to Holy Cross, I would never have met my wife Colleen, had Caroline and Michael, and likely wouldn’t even be living in Massachusetts.
If I didn’t live in Massachusetts, you and I wouldn’t have the relationship we have, and I wouldn’t be writing this to you.
Making that decision based on my written goals led me down a path which put me closer to what I wanted vs. what I didn’t want.
Inspiring Goals Come From Asking Yourself Questions
As we enter a brand new year, it’s a perfect time to ask yourself, “am I closer to or further away from what I really want?”
To answer that question, you have to first be clear on what you really want, not what everyone else or “society” thinks you should want.
If you don’t know, then you’re at the mercy of those who have plans for you to carry out what they want! (Think of politicians!)
While you’re thinking about it right now, go to a quiet place, take out a pad of paper, close the door, and allow yourself to just think without interruptions.
Ask yourself this question:
“If I was sitting here 3 years from today, and I was looking back over those 3 years back to today, what would have to have happened in order for me to feel happy with my progress?”
Now, I’m not just talking about your financial life. I’m talking about your entire life.
- What would you like to eliminate?
- What opportunities would you like to take advantage of?
- What strengths would you like to build on?
(I personally go through this exercise every quarter)
If you’re having a difficult time answering this question, begin with this: What’s most important to me in ________ (my life, my relationships, my health, etc.)?
Then, what has to happen in order for me to experience ________ (whatever it is that is most important to you)?
As I’ve mentioned before, take money out of the equation for now. Don’t let “perceived” financial limitations govern your thought process. Remember, money is only a means to get you what you really want. It’s not the end.
Allow your mind to wander a little and just write down everything that comes to mind.
To increase the likelihood of getting what you want, take 4 more quick steps:
- Rewrite the list in order of priority and put it where you can easily see it every day,
- Immediately write a plan of action and list out who you need help from (you’d be surprised how much people will help you get what you want, starting with me. Just ask!)
- Measure and Adjust: Nothing ever happens in a straight line. Expect to be confronted by opposition and to have to make adjustments along the way,
- Remember: it’s about progress, not perfection. Reward yourself for your progress!
Here’s to a happy, HEALTHY, and prosperous 2021 for you!
Happy New Year!