You have been blessed with immeasurable power to make
positive changes in your life.– Steve Maraboli
The start of any New Year can be invigorating. It’s uplifting to think of leaving the past year behind and starting a new one on a fresh, pristine slate. In many ways, January feels like a reboot. With all twelve months ahead of us, we envision massive change on the horizon. We can reset unfavourable behaviours and habits and trade them in for much better ones. We can do better, be better and make the changes we are hoping for.
Anything feels possible.
While all of that can be true, the New Year can also be anxiety-producing and just plain terrifying. How will these changes be made? Where do we start? And even if we start, what if we fail?
Sometimes we worry about failing so much that we end up sitting on the sidelines, acting like a spectator in our own lives, instead of the major players that we are. By February, we may even feel like all our motivation to accomplish our goals has completely depleted.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. During the last several years, I have discovered that in order for any change to be possible, and manageable, a few things are necessary.
1. Be clear and sure of what you want
Okay, you want a new job. But knowing that is not enough. Do some real soul searching and be clear about what exactly you want to be doing a month or year from now? Once your vision is abundantly clear, it makes it easier to accomplish. It may help to write down the goals with as many specifics as possible. With that include how you will feel once you accomplish this. Read this list every day.
2. Make choices that will help you reach that goal
I know this one sounds obvious. But it’s easy to stay focused for a short time. It’s when the day- to-day routine kicks in that we lose sight of our vision. We stop making time for the gym or home-cooked meals. We start dating the wrong person because we think the “right” one doesn’t exist. The choices we make on a daily basis are essential to our long-term happiness. Sometimes the easier choice for right now is the wrong choice for later on. When in doubt, make the choice your future self will thank you for.
3. Tell someone you trust what your vision is
They say it takes a village, but really you just need one close person to confide in. Pick someone who is positive, encouraging and truly wants the best for you. Whether that is a best friend, sibling, parent or life coach, this person will play an important role in your journey. Ask this person to hold you accountable and check in on how your goals are going. Give this person permission to point (or push) you back in the right direction when you veer off course (because at some point, or several points, you will.) Thank them often.
4. Be honest with yourself
Check in with yourself. Your internal compass will not lead you astray, as long as you take the time to listen to it. Make time for quiet reflection whether that’s meditation, a silent car ride or journal writing. If something feels off, it probably is. If your goal needs to take a different shape, let it. If things feel right? Wonderful. You are on the right track and that is the best kind of motivation to keep you going.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask
There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. It doesn’t mean you’re vulnerable. It just means you are hungry. Remember, answers can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s the guidance of an expert or mentor. Other times solutions can come from courses, books or an online source. Here’s the thing. Once you are open to learning and growing—in whatever area—help, knowledge, inspiration and opportunities will come in ways you could have never imagined.
6. Try new things
Apparently what you are currently doing isn’t exactly working to your liking so keep telling yourself this life-altering phrase I discovered at a particularly difficult time: “If I want to see a change, I need to make a change.” This reinforces that you—not some other person or outside force—are in control and willing to take charge. Next comes the hard part. Ask yourself what changes you can make in the way you think or the things you do that can lead to a more positive and happier life and those ultimate goals. Sometimes minor shifts can make a major difference.
7. Have faith
Remember, change is a process that takes time. During that process, you must remain patient and have faith. When a negative thought creeps in, replace it with a positive one. If you are met with an obstacle or naysayer, give thanks for the lesson and keep moving. Sometimes things don’t occur in the timetable you map out, but if you work really hard and remain positive, things will transform. Remember, one of the life’s certainties is that life is always changing.
Just wait and see.