Happy New Year. We have finally passed that point when one calendar year turns into the next and many of you will use this time to set some new goals.
I don’t make New Year resolutions. I just smile and observe when half the population goes crazy with their ‘I am going to lose 3 stone’, ‘run every day’, ‘stop drinking alcohol’, ‘turn vegan’…..or insert other meaningful but likely to be unachieved goals here.
Its not that I don’t believe in peoples ability to change or achieve audacious goals, as I absolutely do. Its just that all too often we use this one particular day to challenge ourselves to suddenly become an exemplary human-being who eats perfectly, exercises perfectly, lives perfectly and doesn’t have any vices.
Realistically, life isn’t like that. The process of sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a slow evolution, often with multiple stops and restarts. It is not our capacity to never slip up which gets us to our goals, but our ability to quickly get started again when we do which determines our chances of success.
What is so different about January 1st than any other day? Every second of every day is the opportunity to make a new start.
The trouble with picking this one day and attaching a lot of importance to it, is that when we do have the inevitable slip, the thought process is very much that we have failed completely. Rather than simply learning from whatever went wrong and finding the determination to get back on track, far too many people give up altogether.
We go from super pumped to super negative, berating ourselves for ‘failing’ yet again. How different will it be if, rather than setting yourself this overwhelming huge goal (or worse still, multiple goals), you pick a smaller improvement in just one area of your life and start there? Success builds on success.
Take the pressure off. Having big goals is great, and in my opinion a vital part of living a fulfilling life, but success or failure on January 2nd, 3rd or 4th does not define what happens for the rest of the year. There are another 360-something days to get it right.
When I do set myself goals, I don’t expect it to be a smooth road to achievement. If it is, then the goal probably wasn’t big enough. Things worth having or doing always take hard work.
Obstacles and challenges are an inevitable part of achieving anything meaningful. I know that it will be an on and off process, but that with consistency and the ability to keep bouncing back, I will ultimately get there.
2017 was very much like that for me. I strived passionately towards things, sometimes won and at other times failed dramatically. I had incredible luck (both good and bad), was hit with life-changing obstacles, and certainly experienced the full gamut of emotions.
I don’t wish that any of it was different. What to many observers looked like a ‘difficult’ year, was in fact one of my best. I experienced personal growth and development like never before, and I don’t expect that process to stop.
I formed new relationships, let go of some unhelpful ones without feeling guilty, built a business, lost a business, got fitter than I have been in 10+ years then lapsed to be the least fit in 25, survived the biggest health challenge of my life, wrote a book, took my first holiday in 5 years, gained multiple qualifications and developed new skills, plus added massively (and unexpectedly) to my life footprint and have started a process of radically reducing my belongings to lighten the literal and figurative load.
Yes, it was quite some year.
Rather than go into detail, I have decided to look back at it as a series of 17 lessons – all of which have been brought into sharper focus in the last 12 months. Hopefully in reading them, you will have that ah-ha moment for yourself.
In no particular order: –
- 1. Life is short. Very. If you are not living up to your fullest potential, now is the time to do something about it.
- 2. People are naturally good. Yes, there are some rotten eggs in the basket, but they are far outweighed by those for whom love, generosity, kindness and compassion come to the fore.
- 3. Owning more ‘stuff’ does not bring happiness – in fact it generally does the opposite.
- 4. You can’t always control what happens to you in life. You are 100% in charge of how you react.
- 5. The human body need to move. Fail to prioritise regular exercise, and you will ultimately pay a heavy price in terms of your physical and mental health.
- 6. Optimism is a winning trait.
- 7. Make quality time for your friends. You never know when that option will be gone forever.
- 8. Take personal responsibility for pretty much everything. It may not always be easy, but saves you wasting a lot of energy on blame, irritation, negativity, hate, frustration and anger.
- 9. Celebrate your victories more often than you berate yourself for your mistakes. You are not perfect. Neither is anyone else.
- 10. There is no such thing as an easy life. At any one moment, we are all either heading towards a challenge, up to our eyeballs in it, or floundering out the other side. Your life is no worse than anyone else’s. Get over it. (see point 15)
- 11. Never stop growing and learning. ‘Even if you are on the right road, you will get run over if you just sit there’. I borrowed that quote from someone so can’t take the credit, but it says it so well.
- 12. Quality over quantity. It’s true for many things, including friends, food, possessions, and blog posts. For those of you who have been reading my musings for a while, you will know that the one post per month goal has wavered somewhat! I will do better.
- 13. Be humble. Even if you think that you are the best thing since sliced bread, someone else invented the knife. We rise on the shoulders of others.
- 14. Execution trumps intent. Talking about making a change means nothing if you don’t take action and make a start.
- 15. We can all become the hero in our own life – not because of what goes right, but in figuring how to bounce back when it all goes wrong. Adversity is our greatest teacher.
- 16. Gratitude changes everything. If it is not the over-riding emotion which you feel every day, you need to open your eyes, have a reality check, and realise how great you have it.
- 17. You are going to die. Read point 1 again.
So, there you have it. I would personally like to thank everyone who has shared any part of my journey to date. I would not be who I am without the amazing people in my life. It is my personal mission to help more of you towards your goals in the coming year, so I look forward to making more opportunities to connect either in person or in this virtual world.
On a personal note, whatever the next 12-months holds, I accept that it is all meant to be. Bring it on.