The start of a new year can be quite daunting for some. People are talking about their New Year’s Resolutions and goals for 2017. Around the office, socially and at home. Many seemingly hungry, focused and determined.
For those who have no idea about what they want in 2017, or life in general, this can be challenging to observe. Not having a clear sense of direction or purpose, while those around you do, can lead to feelings of frustration, demotivation and in some cases – depression. Questions such as “Why don’t I know what I want to do with my life?” circle the mind and result in self-doubt, confusion and feeling stuck.
My philosophy is this. If you find the concept of figuring out what you want in life overwhelming, let it go. Start by focusing on 2017 and explore some changes you can make in the next 3, 6 and 12 months – no matter how big or small – that will make a difference. Either to your life or simply to how you feel about yourself. Any change is good. As long as we are making progress and feel like we are moving forward – we remain motivated and fulfilled.
I would also recommend letting go of New Year’s Resolutions. Unless you’re really good at goal-setting, fully clear on the ‘why’ of your goals and highly motivated, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Research has shown most people have broken their resolutions by January 15th. And for some this can produce further feelings of failure, demotivation and hopelessness. This is why most people have actually stopped setting resolutions completely. Because they don’t want to feel like a failure. Again.
I would also say forget about focusing on ‘things’ to make you happy. If you’re unhappy within yourself, relying on material goods or weight loss to make you feel better is a terrible strategy. Sure, at the beginning, you’ll experience the excitement and novelty of obtaining that ‘thing’. But after that your demons will come back to haunt you and you’ll go back to being unhappy. Focus on being happy with you first, and then the rest will follow.
If you’re terrible at goal-setting, and prone to falling off the wagon quickly, focusing on action-based goals can help. Instead of saying I’m going to lose 30lbs by April 2017, look at what actions you can take, starting today, that will have a positive impact on your health. Make a decision to start going to the gym 3 times a week and swapping your usual evening meal for a salad. Or cutting out carbs in the evening. Then after one month – assess. What’s working, what’s not working, what do I need to do differently?
Ultimately though – if you want to create lasting change you have to have clarity on your ‘why’. What’s the purpose of the change? Research has shown that when you’re simply making a change for short-term gain (e.g. I want to lose weight for my best friend’s wedding), the results will be just that – short-term. However, goals based on long-term gain or a reason bigger than or outside of yourself, will more likely produce lasting results. My previous article from last year on goal-setting clarifies this more.
Whether you want to discover what you want in life or what simple changes you can make in 2017, here are some questions to get you started:
1) What is present in your life right now that you are tolerating? Where in your life are you settling for mediocrity?
Think about your job, career, relationships, health, finances, social life, personal development, physical environment (e.g. country, home, office etc.) and emotional well-being. Ask yourself how fulfilled are you in each of those areas, and what changes (big or small) can you make in the next few months or this year that will make a difference?
2) What happened last year that you would not like to happen again this year?
Last year, driven by a goal to break my previous revenue records, I pushed myself so hard I got sick. The weird thing is – I’m not even motivated by money. There was simply a part of me that wanted to see just what I could achieve. That’s it! Safe to say, I broke all my records. But I also broke myself. At the end of November, after being sick for 2 months, I was in the doctor’s office being told I had ‘walking pneumonia’. I was subsequently off work for the whole of December while my body kicked my ass for putting it through hell throughout Q4. Obviously, this is not something I want to happen again this year.
So, for 2017, I have let go of the need to break any more financial records – and set a consistent monthly salary to aim for every month. My achievements and goals for my business will be based on quality of service and delivery rather than financial. I have a clearer idea of how much work I can take on before burning out and have made-self care my number one priority this year. I have taken steps to improve my diet, get more sunlight, meditate in the evenings, be kinder to myself and exercise. I will focus on the things that are most important to me (making a difference, love, friends and family) and not worry about the stuff that isn’t (breaking financial records). Small changes that I know will have significant impact.
Take a look at what happened last year and decide what you will do differently this year.
3) If you were to fully live your life – what is the first change you would make? What 3 changes could you implement right now that would make the biggest difference in your life?
9/10 times we don’t have what we want in life because we don’t believe it’s achievable. Or we think we could achieve it but we’re paralysed by fear of failure. We hold ourselves back from making decisions and taking action because we’re scared of the unknown and lack of confidence in our abilities and dreams. Imagine you had no fear, fully believed in yourself and believed you couldn’t fail – what changes would you make?
4) Where are you not respecting yourself in your life right now?
This is a lesson I learnt the hard way. In pushing myself work-wise, I neglected my health, friends and family. Things I know I absolutely must experience in my life to feel fulfilled and on top of my game. And in chasing a goal that wasn’t even important to me I really wasn’t respecting myself. My TRUE self. Where in your life are you not taking care of yourself? Physically, mentally, emotionally? Where are you sacrificing your needs or desires to please others? What behaviours do you regularly engage in that do not benefit, support or help you? Do you beat yourself up and criticize yourself for not being perfect or good enough?
What 3 changes could you make, today, to start respecting yourself more?
5) What’s most important to you in life? What do you want MORE of / LESS of in your life?
Write a list. Then think about what actions you could take that will allow you experience more of the things that are important to you and less of the things that aren’t.
6) For what purpose?
As mentioned, any changes you make must have a purpose. A meaningful, motivational purpose. A purpose that is a MUST for you and not a SHOULD. Once you’ve decided on what changes you’re going to make, ensure the purpose is clear. Then you’re good to go.
What goals have you set for 2107? Where have you struggled in the past to keep on track with your goals? What strategies actually helped you to achieve them? Please feel free to share and comment below.
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About the Author
Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.