Five Quick Tips on How to Start the New Year
Several days into the New Year and you might already be feeling like you didn’t start it right. For a lot of people, when the fireworks die down, they will still have to wake up to the same life, with the same job and aspirations. What should be different?
Your approach to the new year is what should be different. Instead of filling up a notebook with resolutions you feel half-hearted about, why not try something different?
Here are five tips on how you can start your year on the right track. If you’re determined for your personal and professional growth this year, then these tips are for you.
- Reflect on the previous year
The first step towards a better future is taking stock of what happened in the past. To say 2020 was a tough year is an understatement. Just like everybody else, you had to deal with a situation you could never have dreamed of, and that undoubtedly had a lasting effect on you.
Start with what you liked about the previous year. This can be hard, considering the year in question, but if you look back with an objective lens and a clearer view, you may notice some blessings you hadn’t considered before. After all, hindsight is 20/20, right? (Pun intended)
As you do your reflections, here are some questions for you to consider:
What worked for you professionally?
What worked in your personal life?
What had you envisioned for the year versus where you are now?
Did you manage to pivot so you could still reach your goal?
What would you change about the way you handled the situation (think global, professional and personal situations)?
While this exercise requires you to be self-critical, be careful not to put yourself down. If there were situations you could have handled better, acknowledge that with respect and objectivity, not malice and self-hatred.
The right amount of self-criticism will wake you up and push you to be better. If you start feeling discouraged anytime during your reflection, remind yourself that you are still standing and you are actively working towards being better. That is the making of a strong individual.
- Set your goals
Now that you have a clear understanding of what went right and what went sideways in the last year, you can move forward into your present and your future. Set your goals for the year and plan how you will achieve them.
After the reflection exercise, you may notice that you still have some outstanding goals from last year. Before you put them down as this year’s goals, think carefully about why they are still outstanding and if they still align with your beliefs, or really something you want. What you wanted in the previous could have changed for many of reasons.
One thing that I find people are afraid to do is to let go. Sometimes your beliefs and aspirations change, especially when you have a life-altering experience. Letting go of your previous outlook can be scary, especially since it means embracing the unknown most of the time. However, keeping goals that no longer align with your true essence will only waste time and energy, both of which are vital resources you need to guard diligently and spend wisely.
That said, you can carry over any goals that still align with your purpose and are outstanding from the last year. Also, set any new goals you may have for this specific year.
There is a plethora of resources online on how to set SMART goals, or you can attend my Goal Setting Bootcamp that provide in-depth guidance on how to set powerful goals. Whichever you decide, do your research and give yourself an adequate amount of time to work on each one. It’s important to pace yourself; the only race you’re in is with yourself.
- Cultivate your support system
This step is really important and it’s one that gets overlooked most often. Looking at your list of goals, you may feel like you can achieve them all on your own. The idea of being “self-made” has been pushed down our throats for years now, and asking for help is seen as a weakness.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
No human being is an island. Unless you’re a monk seeking enlightenment through solitude, isolating yourself for prolonged periods of time is a bad idea. Studies have shown that prolonged isolation can result in cognitive decline.
Michael Siffre, a French scientist and adventurer, shut himself up in a cave for six months as part of an experiment. By the end of the second month, he reported that he could “barely string thoughts together.” And he still had four months to go!
Isolation is not only social. You could be surrounded by people and still feel a sense of isolation. It’s harder to spot, but that’s why this isolation is so insidious.
In a culture that is increasingly looking to cut people off, go against the grain and feed the relationships that are most important to you. Identify the people who have been instrumental in your life and make time for them. Allow them to support you, and in turn, support them.
Now, I understand that not everyone has someone to count on. That is why I am here to help you and mentor you towards your success. Send me a message outlining your mentorship needs and I can help you start with what you have.
- Set a schedule
Here’s a public secret: nothing gets done that you don’t set time for. You know how people say they are busy all the time? Well, the truth is, whatever they put off with those two words “I’m busy” really just isn’t a priority in their life. What you prioritize, you make time for.
Which brings us to this fourth tip. Create a schedule. And stick to it.
I know a lot of people hate schedules, preferring to go with the flow instead, and believe that a free-range approach is effective. However, in my experience, the free range approach rarely works, and when it does, it’s only for small to intermediate goals. If your goals are big to the point where they scare you, then a schedule is your best friend.
First of all, your schedule tells you what’s most important in the current season of your life. It also shows you exactly how much time you could be stealing away from your top priority through procrastination and other bad habits.
A schedule also helps you to cultivate the necessary discipline that every successful person has. Once you set your schedule and you stick to it, you gain a new-found respect for your time and energy, as well as for other people’s time and energy.
Note: When setting your schedule, the goal is not to fill it with tons of things every single day. It’s to create the kind of day you would find most meaningful and fulfilling. That includes talking to your friends, going out where possible, and spending time with family.
- Detox from social media
Finally, it’s important for you to start your year by taking time away from social media. The fear of missing out (FOMO) keeps us glued to our screens, mindlessly scrolling on social media timelines and consuming all kinds of content. The result? Information overload.
We live in the age of information, and there has been immense good done as a result of the technological advances made over the years. However, information overload has begun to pose serious issues in society. Information overload reportedly has terrible effects on the human brain, not least of which is decreased information retention and feeling burnt out (even when you haven’t been all that productive).
A healthy way to start the year would be to go off the grid for some time, a weekend, a week or if you’re really committed, a month. Take this time to reconnect with yourself, pick up a new hobby that doesn’t require any gadgets, such as painting, reading or walking.
Some benefits of a social media detox include mood improvements, higher self-esteem and being more present as you connect more with the real world.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you would like some help getting started with your goals for the year, book a free consultation and let me help you kickstart your journey to success.