It’s this time of the year again when we find ourselves energized by the perspective of a better year. We’re full of hope, plans and new year’s resolutions… just like last year. Most of us find ourselves with the exact same list of goals and resolutions as last year (want to get fit, make more money and better relationships). We formulate these goals in our mind, pray that Santa heard us and wait for the magic to happen. Then we find ourselves the following year with those exact same goals! Maybe if I wish harder, it will happen. The truth is, getting the life you want requires some hard work, focus and strategy. Yes, we don’t control everything in life but there’s a good chunk of it that depends on us, on our decisions and actions (or the lack thereof). Let’s make a real difference in our lives in 2017, let’s take the steps to create real momentum and make this year our greatest.
Step 1: Defining the life you want
A balanced and healthy lifestyle is one that is in agreement with your core values, one that does not create emotional distress or negative emotions such as anger, frustration and resentment. These emotions and the stress they generate are by far more detrimental to your health than eating junk food and being sedentary. When we love and value ourselves, we will take care of our bodies and set the necessary boundaries and routines to preserve them. But how do we get there?
Our entire lives can be organized in 3 spheres:
- You: this is about healthy eating, sleeping enough, exercising but also personal development and emotional health. This is about being able to recognize where you start and where others end i.e. who you are. What are your core values, needs, wants, dreams? But also what are your fears? The ones that prevent you from taking actions and moving forward in your life. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do other people love about you objectively speaking? What are your health struggles of the moment and to summarize it all what is your relationship to yourself, do you love and treat yourself well or do you neglect yourself and talk to yourself in a demeaning way?
- Work: work and finances can be major sources of stress and exhaustion in our lives. Money in particular or the “fear of not enough of it” governs our lives more than we would love to admit it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting security and comfort in fact, these are basic human needs but sometimes they can paralyze us and hold us back. If you don’t step out of your comfort zone how can you evolve? Ask yourself what is your relationship with money and status? Are you using these as means or is your self-esteem attached to them? How are you doing in this sphere of your life, are you stagnating, under too much pressure, buried under debt? Are you afraid to move on in your career, afraid of change? Are you planning for your retirement, overspending or struggling with debts (student loans, mortgages, credit card etc.)?
- Relationships: this is usually the most important sphere for most of us but also the most troublesome. Because we are scared of being vulnerable and getting hurt, we hide our feelings, preventing us from truly connecting with others. We also often neglect this area of our lives because it might seem that we have less control over it compared to work for instance. But we do have control! What patterns do you find yourself always repeating, do you feel like you always attract the wrong people, or that people always take advantage of you? Think about it, which relationship would you love to change this year and what is standing between you and making that change? Don’t think about what the other person need to do but think about the energy you’ve been putting out there. Remember that you attract whatever you put out, so first analyze your own feelings, thoughts toward that person. Just like we have some intuition about other people’s feelings, others too can feel what we think about them. Ask close friends to help you and don’t get offended by what they say because you’re on a mission to change your life for a more fulfilling and healthier life.
Step 2: Set your goals
Once you’ve figured out where you stand, start listing the things you would love to see change this year. Make the list as long as you want but you’ll have to pick 3 (yes the year is only 12 months long and we know it all, time flies).
- Pick your top 3 priorities: They do not have to belong to the same sphere. For example: pay off my debt, save my marriage and improve my relation with X etc.
- Clarify them: State them in a clear very detailed way. For instance, saving my marriage is too vague, too general. Make it like I want to stop arguing with my husband regarding X, I want to revive the love and passion we once had. I want to call and visit X more often. Notice that the person doing the action here is me, I. You need to empower yourself and believe that you have the power in you to influence the other person (not to change him or her but to influence). We react to people’s energy just like they react to ours. If you want to change a relationship you need to break the pattern by changing your energy regardless of what energy the other person is putting there. They will feel the change and change themselves but you won’t change them and trying to control them will make things worst.
- Create your life vision: the brain is very visual so go online and pick pictures which you think represent your top priorities and create a vision board. You can do it on Pinterest, Microsoft word, PowerPoint or print the pictures and pin them on your fridge. Whatever works for you but make it visual, associate an image to each goal. For instance, if one of your goal is financial stability, what does that translate to for you? It might be buying a house while for someone else it might be paying off debt, setting up an emergency fund etc.…
Step 3: Identify the hurdles to overcome
Now that you have identified your top 3 priorities of the year, you need to work on clarifying your current pattern and blockages. Ask yourself the following questions:
- The Why: Why was I not able to do it so far? lack of motivation, not knowing where to start, not thinking I can do it, not thinking I’m knowledgeable enough, beautiful enough, good enough. Identify the ones that are objectives vs. the ones that are subjective. For instance, I wasn’t able to get a salary increase because I lack skills X which are required in my job. This is an objective “why” vs. I wasn’t able to get a salary upgrade because my boss hates me. I got divorced because we were both busy with our respective career and grew apart vs. I got divorced because he’s a …. (yet you married him, so what had changed?). This part requires courageous introspection in order for you to identify what might have hindered your progress. When the Why is subjective, focus on changing your mindset to come up with objectives ones. Ask people around you if needed.
- The How: how have you been trying so far, what was your strategy? Is it time to try a different approach? What was good with your strategy, should you abandon it altogether or simply tweak it?
- The What: What are the fears that are holding you back? Do not deny your fears, rather understand them because your subconscious is trying to protect you. Where do they come from? Was it a traumatizing previous experience, bad examples around you etc. Find new positive, successful examples or deal with the trauma (With the help of a professional). Respect the inner wisdom in you which is trying to protect you by acknowledging the fear. This will prevent you from creating internal tension and conflict between what you know you should do and how you feel about it. For instance, if you are having a hard time with commitment, what you are really afraid of might not be to be in a relationship but rather to be hurt. So, respect that fear by picking someone who will respect and love you but make sure you love yourself first.
Step 4: Create your plan
Now that you have identified what prevented you so far from reaching your goals, you need to lay down a concrete action plan. Here’s what your plan should include:
- A Strategy to overcome my blockages: if what was preventing you from getting a salary increase was lack of skill sets, then what is your strategy to learn (could be in job training, shadowing someone, part-time education etc.) It could be that you simply need to look for another job more inline with your skills etc. If your issue was, for instance the couple who grew apart due to busy schedule, maybe your new strategy should be focussed on making time for each other (getting babysitting help to free up time for the couple, booking your calendars in advance for date nights, starting an activity together, going for couple therapy etc.)
- A strategy to maintain my drive: it starts with gratitude. Make sure you make a list of things you are grateful for everyday. Make a list of positive affirmation to change your mindset and repeat them every morning. Get a positive vibe buddy whose role is to let you know when you become your old self again and vice versa (because life happen).
- A strategy to implement my plan: how many of us get down to the super detailed to-do lists to get something done yet procrastinate. Get an accountability pattern if needed or work with a professional, whatever would get you moving.
Think about how you might be sitting exactly where you are next year if you do not make changes. Remember one thing though on your journey, happiness comes from inside. Therefore, changing your relationship with yourself would already be an amazing new year gift to yourself.