“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” — C.S. Lewis
You can make this your greatest year ever.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to making meaningful moments that matter with the people whose lives you touch.
That said, it helps to get some science and some proven practices on your side.
I’ll share what I’ve learned from the wisdom of the ages and modern sages.
In this guide to your greatest year ever, I’ll share with you some of the best insights and actions for creating better focus, drawing from your best motivation, and unleashing your genius.
Your Future Self Can Lift You Up and Pull You Forward
One of the best things you can do this year, is to work on your Future Self, today.
You do you.
When you focus on your Future Self today, you can grow in the direction of your dreams and bold ambitions.
When you practice your greatness, you become more of what you’re capable of.
And self-actualization is at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
And this is how your Future Self can pull you forward towards a compelling future.
The Mindset and Motivation for Your Greatest Year
To make this your greatest year ever, it helps to remember a classic quote from Charles Dickens in the book, A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
It’s not what happens to you and It’s not what’s happening in the world.
It’s what you choose to focus on.
And you get more of whatever you focus on (the Pygmalion Effect).
If you focus on everything negative around you and what you can’t control, you won’t help your self-efficacy.
Long ago, a wise executive coach taught us that we ultimately get to control two things in life:
- Your attitude
- Your actions
My Mom taught me this by always saying, “It’s not what’s on your plate, it’s how you eat it.”
Moms are always right, aren’t they.
Give Your Best Where You Have Your Best to Give in the Service of Others
Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the positive psychology industry, outlined 3 paths of happiness long ago:
- The Pleasant Life
- The Good Life
- The Meaningful life
You can think about It like this…The Pleasant Life is spending time in things you enjoy.
It feels good.
The Good Live is a step up. It’s about spending more time in your values. If you like learning, then spend more time learning.
This is a great way to enjoy the journey.
But the Meaningful Life is a very special opportunity.
It’s a chance to reframe the touch stuff in your life as a challenge and opportunity to become something more.
It’s also a chance to amplify your life through the people whose lives you touch.
The way I think about this idea is this:
Give your best, where you have your best to give, in the service of others.
This is a very empowering and very powerful strategy.
The world smiles back at you when you operate at this level.
Your growth and greatness are the greatest things you can focus on to make this your greatest year ever.
The best thing you can do for others, is to serve in your special way.
And it’s in this process of serving others your way, where you will find your greatest growth, your source of significance, and your meaningful journey.
This is how you elevate your game of life and operate at a higher level.
With that in mind, here are 3 actionable ways to make this your greatest year ever…
1. Focus on Greatness for Your Future Self
What better way to make it your greatest year ever, than to focus on greatness.
Stephen Covey’s book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, is about how to move beyond effectiveness to focus on greatness.
And greatness is a habit with a mindset and skillset that you can develop and get better over time.
We Must Move Beyond Effectiveness to Greatness
Personal effectiveness is just a requirement for survival.
According to Covey, to thrive, we need to move beyond effectiveness to greatness.
From the 8th Habit:
“The world, however, is a vastly changed place.
Being effective as individuals and organizations is no longer merely an option—it’s a requirement for survival.
But in order to thrive, innovate, excel, and lead in what Covey calls the ‘New Knowledge Worker Age,’ we must build on and move beyond effectiveness.”
Greatness is Your Unique Personal Significance
Your greatness is the journey of exploring and exploiting your unique personal significance.
The 8th Habit is:
“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”
In this case, your “voice” is your “unique personal significance.”
From the 8th Habit:
“In this era of human history, our call is for greatness—holistic fulfillment, passionate execution, and significant contribution.”
To Thrive, Focus on Greatness
If you want to access higher levels of motivation and higher levels of human genius, then focus on greatness.
Greatness is a skill you can learn.
Greatness starts with mindset.
To develop your greatness, practice greatness as a habit.
From The 8th Habit:
“Research is showing, however, that the majority of people are not thriving.
They are neither fulfilled nor excited.
Tapping into the higher reaches of human motivation requires a new mindset, a new skill-set – a new habit. “
Use Your 4 Intelligences
Covey’s whole person paradigm is that we all have 4 intelligences:
According to Covey, the information age and the “Age of Wisdom” require “whole” people, in whole jobs.
Reduce 5 Cancerous Behaviors
According to Covey, we should reduce and avoid what he calls cancerous behaviors:
Find Your Voice Through the 3 Gifts
According to Covey, we’re all born with 3 gifts:
- The freedom to choose
- The natural laws or principles
- The 4 intelligences
For example, in terms of natural laws or principles, positive consequences come from contribution, fairness, honesty, integrity, kindness, respect, and service.
They key is to work with and get those natural laws on your side.
Grow Your Future Self Through Your 4 Intelligences
You can express your significance and achieve serious results through your 4 intelligences.
Covey shares examples how great achievers can express their voice through the use of their 4 intelligences:
- Great achievers can develop their mental energy into vision.
- Great achievers can develop their physical energy into discipline.
- Great achievers can develop their emotional energy into passion.
- Great achievers can develop their spiritual energy into conscience (an inward sense of right and wrong and a drive towards meaning and contribution).
You can answer to the call of greatness, access your highest levels of genius, and motivation, and, as part of the habit, inspire others to do so, too.
Work on Your Primary Greatness for Your Future Self Success
Success is only fleeting if it’s only outward, or secondary.
In the book, Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success, Covey teaches us how it’s your primary greatness, or, your character, that is really the firm foundation for your Future Self success.
“Primary greatness is who you really are—your character, your integrity, your deepest motives and desires.
Secondary greatness is popularity, title, position, fame, fortune, and honors…
Going for secondary greatness without primary greatness doesn’t work.
People don’t build successful lives on the unstable sands of what is outwardly or temporarily popular, but they do build successful lives on the bedrock of principles that do not change.”
Leverage the 12 Levers of Successful People
According to Primary Greatness, here are the 12 levers of successful people:
- personal sacrifice
- continuous learning
- teaching to learn
You can apply these 12 levers today to give your Future Self leverage in the future and stack yourself up for success.
2. Commit to Your Best Year
The secret of how to have your best year is to actually commit to making this your best year.
I remember on a startup team, the manager asked each of us on the to commit to make this our best year ever.
This seemed liked such an unlikely ask given the context at the time.
We had just turned the page of the previous year, where our team really struggled, especially as a startup in Microsoft.
As we headed into the new year, our team faced a lot of big challenges and a lot of unknowns.
We were understaffed, over committed, and pulled thin in all sorts of directions.
Our team was crazy busy and putting in all sorts of hours, and everybody felt under-appreciated.
In a lot of ways, you might say our team felt defeated.
And yet, here was our manager, asking us to commit to our greatest year.
An amazing thing happened when we committed to this one simple goal.
We actually created our greatest year.
This one decision to make this year our greatest year guided all our thoughts, our actions, and our decisions for the year.
By choosing greatness…by deciding that this would be our best year, we made it so.
The key here was a deep sense of commitments.
We didn’t just say, yeah, sure, this will be our greatest year ever.
We said it in a way where we could feel it in our bones.
We actually meant it. And we held each other to it.
In this way, we created a culture for our team to rise and thrive.
And many people on the team had their best year ever, despite the big challenges, the tragedies, and the way the winds blew.
We focused on what we controlled, and we let the rest go.
3. Focus on Your 3 Wins for the Year
If you want to have your best year ever, take a look at using 3 Wins for the Year.
Three Wins for the Year is a technique I share in my book Getting Results the Agile Way.
It’s a simple way to get clarity around the 3 big things that you really want out of this year.
It’s also a way to Begin with the End in Mind.
What if you could look back a year from now and say with confidence that you achieved the three most important changes that you could make in your life right now?
This could be anything from getting to your ideal shape, to finding your dream job, to taking an incredible journey.
That’s the big idea behind Three Wins for the Year.
It’s about helping you identify and achieve three key meaningful changes in your life, that really help you make the most out of the year.
So when next year rolls around, instead of wondering where the year went, or how it flew by so fast, you have 3 Wins for the Year under your belt, that really changed your life.
Simply come up with 3 Wins for the year that are worth committing to.
Imagine this is the end of the year, and you are doing your Year End Reflection, what 3 Wins would you want under your belt?
Keep in mind that science says we underestimate our ability to change.
When you dream, dream big.
As Michelangelo Buonarroti put it:
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
This is where you get to really practice your imagination and reimagine your Future Self in bigger, better, bolder ways.
Your Greatness Calls
Will you answer?
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