Every year, we start over.
And every year, you’re presented with the same opportunity: to change your life for the better like you never have before.
Nothing is more powerful than a blank slate, however, few things can be as intimidating as it either. If you really want to make 2018 your best and most successful year ever, where do you start? What should you do?
With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Last year, I was somewhere I didn’t want to be. Years of hard work just hadn’t turned out the way I had imagined it would and I was left in a position where I could just keep going, trying the same thing, but hoping for a different result.
Or…I could change direction and start something new.
Fortunately, I decided to start something new using the skills I’d developed over those years. And I can say happily that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But the thing is, it was really hard to start over, just as it’s hard when we try to start over every new year.
The new year presents us with a unique opportunity: a chance to start over no matter who we are or where we’re at in life. Knowing where to go and how to do that, though, is an entirely different story.
That’s why I’ve organized some tips that helped me transform my own life over the past year that I thought might also help you. These tips are structured in order to work as a sort of system, so you can follow them step-by-step if you’re unsure of where to start.
I hope some (or all) of these can help you transform your life in 2018:
1. Craft a vision
Before you can transform your life, you need a few ‘foundational elements’ in place. The cool thing is, if you do the work necessary to set these things up, they make the entire process much easier and more enjoyable.
The first step is to get clear on what is most important to you. This is all about figuring out what you want out of the next year of your life. Take a weekend out of January to think about what it is you want to accomplish over the next year and beyond, what you want out of life, and where you want to go.
Next, once you’ve done this, take time to craft a compelling vision of your life having accomplished or acquired these things. You’ve probably heard of a vision board before, this is the same idea. I know how cheesy they sound (I never thought I’d do one), but I’m telling you– they work. You don’t have to do one if you really don’t want to, just make sure to craft this detailed vision and at least write it down somewhere you can come back to it once or twice a day.
Crafting a vision like this is critical because it will motivate you to take and maintain action when the going gets tough. It will also help you overcome your negative self-talk by making these goals more believable over time as you read or look over it continuously.
2. Get clear on why you want it
Now that you’ve crafted a compelling vision (I.E. decided what you want your life to look like), you need to get really clear on why you want it.
A compelling vision can only motivate you to the degree that you’re in tune with why you want it, so you need to take the time to get really clear about why you want what you want. This is critical because it can help you identify flaws in your vision.
Oftentimes, we think we want something because it’s what the world has told us we’re supposed to want. But if you take the time to think hard about why you truly want something, you’ll find the real source of your desire.
Keep in mind that this often takes longer than a weekend, but if you spend some time reflecting on your life and what you’d like people to say about you in the end, you can gain quite a bit of clarity in a short period of time.
3. Create a plan to execute your goal
If you have a compelling vision and know your ‘why’, you need to create a relevant plan that allows you to take action in the most effective way possible towards that vision. Without this, we often feel aimless and lack the motivation or direction to pursue our dream.
The best way to do this is to work backwards, or in other words, reverse engineer your success. If you set a one-year goal, think forward to the end of next year and imagine what you’ll need to do to accomplish this goal. If it’s further forward, do the same.
Once you’ve got an idea of the major components of your vision by working backward, you’ll know what you need to put your time and effort into over the next year and can plan out your moves accordingly, including smaller quarterly goals.
This is critical for not just clarifying what you have to do to accomplish your goal, but for breaking down your goal into reasonable and believable chunks that highlight a clear path to your goal.
4. Develop a system for helping you stick with it
An extension of your plan, an accountability system takes over where your plan leaves off. Your plan lays the trail, it shows you where you need to travel to accomplish your vision. An accountability system, on the other hand, makes sure you stay on that trail as you’re traveling through life.
Start off by setting smaller weekly goals based on your quarterly goals. Once you’ve done this, you can gauge your performance on a weekly basis and make notes on how you can improve, staying on track every step of the way. In addition, this kind of system really helps you up your game over the long run by making small weekly or monthly improvements.
5. Allow yourself to fail (and know what to do when you fall off)
Despite all this, you’re going to fail. But it’s important to differentiate between quitting and failing.
Quitting means you’re done. It means you tried to realize your vision and live the life you desired but, eventually, no longer felt you could hit your goal and decided not to pursue it any longer. This is the worst kind of fate.
Failing means you tried to accomplish some aspect of your dream or goal and didn’t. With failing, you have the opportunity to try again another way. Quitting means you’re done.
It’s important to allow yourself to fail because it’s necessary to realize your vision. All great success stories were “failures” at some point. The difference between them and others is that they didn’t quit, they kept pushing on and figured out a different way to make it happen.
Oftentimes, we accomplish our goals in a way we never imagined. You can’t plan for what life throws at you, but you can get back up, adapt, and move forward.
6. Listen to what your heart tells you
From here on out, there’s no telling what will happen.
Sometimes, you realize you need or want to change your vision. We change, people change, and things turn out different than we imagined they would. When this happens, you need to be able and willing to listen to your heart to make the right decision for your future.
Listening to your heart isn’t easy, but the more you learn to quiet the mind through meditation or by simply listening to your intuition regularly, the more refined your ability to hear when you’re trying to tell yourself something will be.
Starting over isn’t easy, but if you have a plan in place you can put the odds in your favor. Next year is an opportunity to do something different, to become something better, so don’t let this opportunity pass without giving it your all.
I never imagined how I’d be able to transform my own life one year ago, I just knew I wanted to make a change and I set out to do just that. You never know what might happen if you do the same.