Seize the year! The Chinese New Year, the Year of the
Earth Pig, has begun, offering the promise of new possibilities, new
opportunities, new chances to make changes.
The new year is as good a time as any for a fresh start.
Make your fresh start last all year by having specific goals along with specific plans to see them through.
Know what you want, know who you want to be, know where you want to go, and know what you want your destination to be like.
- Do you know what you want? I don’t mean a million dollars and a 90-foot yacht. What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Toward which outcomes do you most want to work? Are they really your outcomes, or is someone else trying to push you to do or be something pleasing to them at your expense? Are you limiting your choices of outcomes because of limiting thinking? For example, if you are looking for a job, are you seeking one that offers the same low pay, the same lack of benefits, the same lack of advancement opportunities as the one you’re leaving? Have you trapped yourself in a salary expectation or a type of job? Sure, you probably can’t successfully get a job as a neurosurgeon if you haven’t got the degrees and experience, but you can probably step outside your comfort zone and move into an exciting and better-paid career if that’s an area you’d like to change.
- Do you know who you want to be? Do you want to be a non-smoker? Do you want to be a highly paid executive? Do you want to be a professional speaker? Do you want to be a fit and healthy person? You could be any of those things if you chose to be them, and were willing to put the work in to achieve them. Do you want to be someone who watches television and talks around the water cooler at work about what other people get paid to do? Or would you rather do something interesting and talk around the water cooler about what you did instead of what you watched?
- Do you know where you want to go? The answers to this may be geographical: “I’d like to work in California or buy a vacation home in Florida”; but they may also be metaphorical: “I’d like to be closer to my master’s degree”, or “I’d like to be closer to my ideal weight and BMI”. Do you want to have a better job, or to start a business, or to learn a new skill, or to be a better person in a specific area? Where exactly do you want to be? What is the route on the roadmap to get to where you want to be?
- Do you know what your destination looks like? How would you know if you have arrived? Is your ultimate outcome for this year to be healthier, wealthier, happier, luckier, more spiritual, fitter, or more educated than you are today? How do you know when you are happier enough? How will you feel when you reach your destination? What will it look like to you? What will it sound like? Does it have a taste or a scent? Does it have surfaces with texture? Immerse yourself in the complete sensory experience of having successfully arrived at your destination.
When you can answer all these questions, vividly, using all your senses, experiencing what achieving your goals feels like, then it’s time to plot out your road map to get there. Break the big goal into steps, so you can make measurable forward progress while still feeling like each step is completely doable. Now schedule each of these steps into your calendar every day until the day the goal is reached.
That is how you seize the year. You start by identifying what you want to seize, then every day you seize the day by accomplishing its tasks, and you move a little closer to your goal, until you hold it in your hands.
Remember, a goal without a target date is just a daydream.