Well, here we are – a new year! It's 2018 now and 2017 is in the history books. My, how time is flying. Anyone remember Y2K!? The turn of the century sure had its share of sensationalist debates about the future. Almost two decades on, we are still here and our world continues to be full off challenges … and opportunities.
So how do you make the most of a new year?
At the beginning of any new year, I have found it very helpful to do three things:
1. Look Back.
The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said that the unexamined life was not worth living. It is so easy to just keep on going without thinking – from moment to moment, from day to day, from weekend to weekend, and from year to year. However, experience alone does not teach us anything. It is only experiences that we reflect on that become insight for living better lives. I encourage you to set aside an hour or so and look back over last year. Here are a few questions that can assist you:
- What went well that you can celebrate?
- What didn't go so well?
- What would you do differently if you had the year all over again?
- What are you grateful for?
- What lessons did you learn?
- What relationships were the most helpful to you?
- What toxic relationships do you need to get rid of … or at least quarantine?
- What would you like to do less of?
- What would you like to do more of?
If you can capture the wisdom from the answers to these questions and integrate them into your life, what a difference that can make.
2. Look Around.
Have a good look around you right now. How is life going for you .. really? What is your 'current reality'?
Think through every area of your life and ask yourself how satisfied your are with it. This includes your physical health, your emotional well-being, your spiritual life, your personal growth, your relationships, your finances and your vocation.
Avoid getting stuck in denial ("Everything is fine!") or in discouragement ("I hate my life!").
The good news is that life doesn't have to stay as it is now. You can change. Your decisions, not your current conditions, determine your future.
3. Look Ahead.
This new year is like a blank page, a new chapter in your book of life, and a plethora of possibilities waiting to happen. Rather than making a heap of new year's resolutions or setting another 10 goals to add to your already overgrown task list, why not think about who you want to be a year from now. Where do you want to be? What do you want to have achieved? Think about the outcomes you desire and the results you want to see. Choose ones that inspire and motivate you. Begin with the end in mind.
Last week, at our family lunch on New Year's Eve, we went around the table and each family member completed the statement, "This time next year …" It was a fun and inspiring time listening to each person's dreams and aspirations. Now we can cheer each other on and hold each other accountable (kind of like positive peer pressure!) for making the changes and achieving the goals we desire throughout the year.
Once you have a clear picture of the outcomes and results you want at the end of this year (new habits or desired achievements), write them down and keep them somewhere highly visible (on your mirror, your office wall or a computer screensaver). Then schedule regular reviews (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to ask yourself what your 'next action' is to make them a reality, as well as to review your progress.
These three things won't happen unless you make time for them. You can't do them on the run. Make an appointment with yourself. The time invested in this kind of activity will have huge returns for you in this new year. After all, you only have one life to live and each day is a gift. Seize the moment and live it to the full.
Here's to your best year yet!