Some thoughts on how to make 2015 your best year yet and realize your New Year's resolutions.
1. Enjoy your time
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Marthe Troly-Curtin
Too often we spend our days working while worrying about personal issues and then spend our personal time worrying about work issues. But what happens in between? We fill our time with “stuff.” And at the end of the day, we feel like it was all a waste. This year, instead, let’s be intentional about the work we do and the way we spend our time. Let’s be present. Let’s be where we are and do what we’re doing, while we’re doing it — mentally and physically. Let’s choose to enjoy our time, in every activity, and bring a little contentment, energy and life back into our days.
2. Begin today
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” — Mother Teresa
What are we waiting for? I’ve done hundreds of interviews with people where we discuss (at length) their goals, their dreams and what’s keeping them from achieving the things they most want in their lives. Interestingly, a pattern emerged. More often than not, non-achievers believe lack — specifically, the lack of time, the lack of education and/or the lack of money — is to blame for their inability to achieve their goals. I call this a smoke-and-mirrors threat to accomplishment — the TEM gap (the limiting belief that in order to start, you need more Time, more Education (aka Experience) and/or more Money).
There is only one way to bridge the perceived gap between a person and his or her greatest dreams, and that is to begin. To start. Today. From exactly where you stand. No one begins with all the resources necessary to achieve.
The difference between those who make things happen for themselves and those who don’t comes down to 1) the courage to acknowledge that you’re never going to be perfectly “ready” to begin; 2) a willingness to muster the courage to start anyway, today; and 3) an abiding confidence that you will absolutely learn necessary skills, obtain required resources and proactively build the path before you as you go. If you’re waiting for a path to emerge magically before you actively start building it, you’re going to be waiting for an awfully long time.
3. Be a change catalyst
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol
If we think a magic fairy named “time” is finally going to make all things right in the world, we’re dreaming. Time doesn’t change things. It’s how we use our time that makes the difference. We must, with confidence and commitment, change things in our lives through our concerted effort, one choice at a time.
4. Act with urgency
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Urgency makes the difference between practitioners and procrastinators. We are collectively hoarders of information, always saving, archiving, tagging, labeling everything we come across so we can use it at some precise (yet elusive) time in the future. The challenge is in actually choosing to apply this information in the now. If we approach life with a healthy sense of urgency, we will use the knowledge we have today to help us achieve goals and make deep and wide impact for good in the world around us.
5. Connect the dots
“The future depends on what you do today.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Sometimes we get stuck in the drudgery of work. We get bogged down by the process of trying to make things happen. We’re so distracted by the “to do’s” that we lose sight of the vision. We forget to focus on how what we’re doing today will affect the future. Connect your tasks to your mission by purposefully connecting the dots between actions/choices and how they will influence our respective futures. When we consciously tie our most significant dreams to our daily actions, we pull ourselves out of the muck and step firmly onto the path that leads to success.
6. Don't push paper
“Never confuse movement with action.” — Ernest Hemingway
There is a very real difference between getting things done and being busy. Does it really take a full 9-5 to get our tasks done? Or … do we just “push paper,” masquerading as being productive while we are merely just running down the clock? They say that 20 percent of our activities achieve 80 percent of our results (an idea derived from the Pareto Principle). This means that 80 percent of our activities are much less effective than the 20 percent we could be doing.
What if this year we focused on that effective 20 percent? Imagine how much more we could get done. Imagine how much discretionary time we would free up for our families, friends and personal projects while simultaneously achieving greater results at work.
7. Feed yourself
“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” — Chinese proverb
Waiting, waiting, waiting for things to suddenly turn our way is futile. We mustn’t waste our lives (or diminish our sense of self-respect and industry) waiting for someone else to feed us our dinner. It just isn’t going to happen. We must eat what we kill. It’s feast or famine — the choice is yours. This year, let’s take ownership of our lives and pursue our goals by taking 100 percent responsibility for their realization.
8. Seek to become
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Henry David Thoreau
Should our motivation to achieve be just for the sake of the achievement itself with no thought of who/what we become in the process? If we want to sincerely enjoy our lives, who we become along the way is far more important than what we achieve. What do you stand for? Define your principles and allow them to serve as benchmarks as you reach toward success.
9. Plan your life with care
“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.“ —Jim Rohn
Life obviously doesn’t always go according to plan. In fact, I can promise you that it almost never will. Yet making no plans at all is akin to sending a boat out into a stormy sea without a rudder. With no direction, the vessel will eventually crash or sink. We must start each year (and every day, week and month) with our big-picture dreams in mind, and then consciously break those goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
By giving ourselves a timeline — aka scheduled dates by which we hope to have accomplished specific tasks — we are offering ourselves measurable milestones (monthly, weekly or daily). These milestones keep us motivated because they are measurable ways to ensure we’re truly progressing toward our ends in mind. This is how we move from where we are to where we want to be.
10. Don't fear failure
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho
Here’s the thing: All of our hopes and dreams will never be achieved if we are afraid to fail. Why? Because fear keeps us stuck; it keeps us from ever leaving the starting gate. A horse that doesn’t set foot on the track is certainly never going to cross the finish line, let alone win the race.
Don’t be afraid. You may fail. There’s no ironclad, surefire way to success, but that’s OK. Find comfort and courage in the promise that each failure (great or small) is not a stumbling block. Rather, it’s a stepping stone moving us one step closer to the life we desire most.
Richie Norton is the best-selling author of “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” and “Resumes Are Dead and What to Do About It.” Download your free 37-page action guide to make your stupid idea your smart reality at RichieNorton.com.