We have entered a New Year and with that come new opportunities.
As we prepare for a year of historical firsts, tragic events, and unforeseen breakthroughs in all areas of our lives, what are you going to do to ensure that the tragedies don’t take you out, and the breakthroughs don’t leave you behind?
Those who have prepared will seem to be heroes and will be seen as overnight successes. The question is: are you ready?
Here are 3 effective ways to set yourself up for success for 2017
1) Keep it Simple
There was a British Comedy Show called Red Dwarf that I used to watch as a young man. It highlighted a hologram named Rimmer, who dreamed of being promoted. So he would prepare to study for the exams that would enable him to get that promotion.
Unfortunately, Rimmer spent so much time preparing that he would have to create a new plan, because he had already missed so many deadlines. Ultimately, he spent so much time preparing to study that he never did – and never passed the tests.
Too many people make the planning process so complicated that they get tired just thinking of the plan.
For me, thinking in one-year terms gives me a good target overall. But I will only be able to really focus on goals for the next three months. Once there, I just set ONE goal for each area of my life. I write down one thing that I want to accomplish physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially over the next three months.
Each of these might require multiple steps and I need to stay aware of those. But overall, the plan is SIMPLE. This is how you set yourself up for success. Part of the simplicity factor is to do what you can to make the achievement of those goals fun.
I once knew a girl who wanted to quit smoking. She calculated how much she usually spent on cigarettes and also how much it would cost for her to go Disneyland with her kids. Her simple plan was to put the money she would have spent on cigarettes into an account toward the Disneyland trip. She figured out that just nine months of doing this would get her there.
She even made a poster with several Disney Characters (her kids helped her). Toward the bottom of the poster, she showed how much she would save every week and month. On those, she had a picture of her and her children that she moved up the poster as she progressed. She watched herself move closer to Disney, and the excitement grew each month.
Ultimately, they had a great time at Disney.
*Note to keeping it simple: The best thing you can do is have concrete goals that you will have fun achieving. Crossing the finish line of a marathon is a blast even if portions of the run really suck.
2) Have a Plan, Not Just Resolutions
So many people fall short of their goals that many will make a resolution to quit making resolutions. But the problem usually is that those who make resolutions are really just dreaming. The idea of losing weight, getting the training you need to be promoted, or whatever, is simply a dream until you create a plan to achieve it.
The plan starts with writing it. Get that dream out of your head and onto paper. Create a picture of what that dream looks like.
How will you look, feel or behave this time next year? Where will you be working? Where will you be going to school?
Create the picture accurately in accordance with your dream as you see it. Then take some time to figure out how you are going to get there. Think through who you will need to connect with in order to have the help or motivation to set yourself up for success.
Gather all of that quickly. But again, don’t let the planning process prevent you from getting started. All plans will ultimately need to be shifted anyway. So get a running start and get going. Consider what you need to do daily or weekly, and how are you going to evaluate that time period.
I love to look at my life weekly and then make plans to adjust if I have fallen behind, or have seen a new opportunity.
*One note on this plan: You have no reason to wait to get things in motion. Start TODAY. Do not put it off any longer. Your dreams want to live. Put it into action as soon as you can. Starting is usually the most difficult step to take.
3) Think Holistically
I once knew a guy who was an avid weight lifter. He was incredible. He worked his chest and arms like a beast and had great results. However, he never did do much of anything with his legs. There was a season where he had this big hulking upper body – but scrawny chicken legs.
It was comical to look at him. He did not understand balance. Now when I talk about balance, I am not talking about equal time in all areas.
What we are really looking for is harmony among all of the different parts of who you are, and those traits that make you, you.
Also, consider all of the different roles that you play on a regular basis. We must find ways to bring all of those pieces into harmony if we wish to really succeed.
An example of failure in this area is the great abolitionist William Wilberforce. Wilberforce dedicated himself to ending slavery in the British Empire and ultimately succeeded. However, what is NOT typically reported in the histories is that his son was a financial and spiritual supporter of the confederacy during the American Civil War.
What happened? As you look at the history, it is easy to see that the topic of slavery was a competitor for this son. Wilberforce chose his life’s work over the life of his son. This happens to many who choose career over family. Others will choose family over career and will spend their lives in hunger and in stressful moments of want.
Creating a holistic lifestyle where we are able to shift between different roles in our lives will ultimately set yourself up for success.
*Note to living holistically: This has been an area of high stress and has given me much difficulty. A wise leader that I was listening to recently suggested that you will fail in one role that you play every day. To be successful, we must come to grips with that. But what we need to do is to resolve NOT to fail in the same role or area of our life any two days in a row.
How ready for success are you?
2017 is already here and with it, all of the hopes and dreams of our lives. What part of history will you play this year? Who will you meet and influence in some way? The answers are up to you. But first, set yourself up for success so that you will endure.