There’s something liberating about a new year. It’s not that we’re different or in any way more capable than we were a month ago; chances are our lives are prodding ahead at exactly the same pace as they were in 2006. But we’ve got a clean slate. We’re staring out at a vista of opportunity. It’s the perfect vantage from which to make goals, changes and decisions that will inform the next three-hundred (or three thousand) days of our lives. Get inspired! Take the captain’s chair and start setting an optimal course for 2007 and beyond.
If you could change your life with a thought, what would you change? Do you have ambitions for a new position or a new career? Have you been putting off starting your novel or learning to scuba dive? Don’t discount anything as impossible. Why shouldn’t you learn to skydive, adopt a puppy and get that idea patented? It’s important that you know what you want and can form a clear picture of your optimal life. Try a one-year and five-year projection. Visualize the life you want. Then you can begin to make changes.
Make a plan
Start putting feelers out for job opportunities. Research local theatres you might join, or start exploring yoga classes. What would it take to move by the end of the year? To afford taking some time and seeing the world? At some point, any major change is going to require a leap of faith, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lay the groundwork. The more time you put into your plans, the more they’ll begin to feel real. And the more energy you dedicate to their practical execution, the more likely it will be that your goals come to fruition once you do take that leap.
Hold yourself accountable
Once you’ve decided what you want and formulated an executable plan, start sharing your ambitions. Choose people you know will be supportive of your dedication to positive change, especially at these early stages. Sharing your plans with people around you will help keep you accountable should your resolve waver later on. Much like groups for weight loss and addiction, keeping a circle of reliable support can help keep you impassioned about and focused on your goals long after the initial momentum wavers.
No one is a better task-master for your goals than you. State your planned change and time frame aloud to yourself or write it in a place where you can see it each day. Specificity is key. “I’m going to improve my professional life” won’t get the same results as “I will have a new career in advertising before 2008.” Place measurable goals on a calendar so you can check in on yourself, and adjust your deadlines as needed so a late milestone doesn’t result in an abandoned goal.
Shake things up
Make changes. Tackle the impossible and don’t spend another year worrying about what you haven’t done. You can make big changes at any time, but it requires enthusiasm and empowering yourself with the sure knowledge that your destiny is in your own hands. And there’s never a better time for that than right now.
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