“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…” — Alfred Lord Tennyson
This could be your year. Maybe it caught you by surprise. Or, maybe you’ve been waiting for it.
But are you ready for it?
So many people fail to start their year off well. They are afraid to dream big, or they are living in the past. Or they go all out for a week or two, or maybe even a month with New Year’s Resolutions that don’t stick or don’t matter.
You are here, and here is exactly the right place to gain some better insight into how to start your year…with skill.
1. Start with Story.
One great way to start off your year, is to start with a story. Your story. Start with a story of how you want this year to be. For example …
Imagine if this is the year you own your health. Imagine if you could wake up strong, and all day long, feel vibrant and alive. Imagine if you could recapture your youthful vigor and enthusiasm and you can’t wait to create your day.
Imagine a vibrant, more radiant you, where your health reflects your new and improved habits for eating and working out, where fitness is fun, and your body rewards you with boundless energy.
Stairs are no longer a threat, they are a thrill, as you approach your 10,000 steps each day.
Imagine if this is the year where work becomes your personal dojo for growth and greatness. You take on new challenges and set big audacious goals that grow your skills and abilities beyond what you ever thought possible.
You find and test new ways to spend more time in your strengths and you find your flow. Best of all, you find new ways to create value as you re-imagine what kind of leader you can be, for yourself, and others.
You feel fully engaged as you master your craft and demonstrate excellence in the quality of your work.
Imagine if this is the year where you master your emotions. Imagine feeling more moments of deep exhilaration, joy, and fulfillment. Imagine that you laugh easily and freely, and when you smile, your eyes smile, too.
And imagine that your genuinely bliss out, and when you catch yourself, you can’t believe your life can feel this good. And when you have your setbacks and you feel down, it doesn’t last so long. Rather than wallow in despair, you seem to know how to find the silver lining and how to find something to look forward to.
Hope, curiosity, and wonder fill your thoughts.
Imagine if this is the year where you really connect with the people in your life. You let them know how much they mean to you. And you feel a deep sense of gratitude as you reflect on how each person in your life makes your life a little sweeter in so many way.
Imagine if this is the year you feel a deep sense of acceptance and self-compassion. Imagine if you finally decide you are worth it, and you feel a deep sense of relief, maybe for the first time, or maybe for the first time in a very long time.
You feel a deep connection with your community, and you feel a deep sense of inner-calm, as you face the challenges throughout your day.
You are the author of your life…and write your story forward.
2. Start with Scenarios.
You can use scenario planning to start this year with skill.
A great way to chunk a big story down is to think in terms of simple scenarios, or little scenes of the future.
Think of some future scenes that you want to make come true.
Maybe you want to see yourself at the gym working out.
Maybe you want to see your living room clutter free, as you enjoy your latest movies on Netflix.
Maybe you want to see yourself choosing fruit over ice-cream for your late night snack.
Whatever those little scenes are, play around with them and use them to foster hope and confidence in the future.
As Helen Keller said, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
3. Start with Strategy.
Your strategy is your approach. There are some clever ways to think about strategy.
Michael Porter says, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Clayton Christensen says, “Strategy is what you invest in.” A smart colleague says, “”Strategy is differentiation.” Erika Andersen says that strategy is “Consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.”
Sometimes, the best strategy is to “do the opposite.” This is especially true, if your current strategy isn’t working. For example, if you’re a thinker and you get stuck in analysis paralysis, try doing more and planning less.
The most important thing you can do with your strategy is to figure out what’s not working, and change your approach.
4. Start with Habits.
A great way to start off the New Year is to think in terms of habits. Habits are a simple, but powerful way to create change.
When X happens, you want to do Y. That’s one way to think of habits.
You can start small. In fact, that’s exactly the right way to start. Make it easy to succeed. Build momentum as you build your habits. The power of habits is that your little effort and actions accrue over time. They add up to something more.
The other benefit of habits is they help you automate behaviors. You have to think about them upfront when you start to form your habits, but eventually, as your behavior becomes a habit, you no longer have to invest time and energy in them. You just do them automatically. You can then invest your time, energy, and attention on creating more value in other areas of your life.
If you don’t know what habit to start, consider turning health into a habit. Or if you want to make your mark on the world, or put a little dent in the universe, then consider adding the Value Creation Habit to your life, and let your inner-artist or creator run wild.
5. Start Something that Matters.
Dream big here. You can chunk any big dream down into small, actionable steps or even habits. But first start with something that’s worth it.
This is your chance to look beyond fear and to explore the art of the possible. You own your attitude and your actions. That’s a powerful force to be reckoned with. Unless you hold yourself back. But why on Earth would you do that?
This is your year to be your own wind beneath your wings, and soar to those heights, or those new heights, like you always you knew could.
If you were waiting for permission, here you go.
Life’s short. Make it matter.
Start this year in a way that matters to you, dream big, build new habits, start with a story, and use simple scenarios to re-imagine your future.
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