It's a new year: it's that time when the Y will be packed with people - for about 3 weeks. I can put up with it for that long and then get back to having a lane to swim in and weights to lift without waiting. Just because a calendar page turns doesn't mean anything is new.
We all know that New Year's resolutions don't work. I've made them - you've made them. And we've all blown them.
If only it were as simple as flipping the page - or getting a new calendar. Wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. The problem is, we take ourselves into the new year. That's why shifting furniture, moving to a new job, making any kind of change often turns out to be the same. We're still there! We're still there with all our habits and hang-ups, with our blindspots and inconsistencies.
I've found some tools over the past couple of years that have helped me make the most of a new year rather than settling into old routines that didn't work before and won't work in a new year. We all know the definition of insanity:
Doing the same thing but hoping for a different result
How do you make 2014 different than other New Year's? You may find some of these helpful like I have:
1) Ask & Answer Questions. I follow a guy named Michael Hyatt. A few years ago he shared some questions to ask for the new year. I have found them helpful and then added a couple. I shared them recently at a dinner with friends and we had a great time with the first one: "If the last year of your life was a movie, what would the genre be?"
We quickly got off the "genre" and onto actual movies! "The Temple of Doom" - scary adventure with a good ending. I might have to add that twist to my list.
I added these questions for my own life, making a total of 10:
- What leadership lessons did you learn in the past year?
- What rhythms will you keep in the next year that were helpful during the last year?
- What 2-4 things would you add to the next year and why do you think they will be helpful? Perhaps stated in the form of goals.
The point is not so much what questions you ask but do you ask questions that help you reflect and gain perspective? The principle I've learned for leveraging the new year: ask and answer some questions about my life and experiences and what I want in a new year.
2) Get a Coach. This past year I did something out of the box and insanely helpful. For my continuing education, I went through the training for an Executive Coach with Sherpa Coaching.
What I learned about myself was more impactful than the skills and strategies for coaching others. It made me a better leader, a better person, a better follow of Jesus.
Interestingly, the key to being a great coach is learning to ask great questions. Considering my first point, it may have fit more than I realized at the time.
There is great value in having someone who will help you get through what is tapping out your leadership abilities. This isn't about life coaching. Executive coaching is about getting rid of the business behaviors that keep holding you back. Home and personal life will benefit as well, but the focus is what's holding you back. We all need someone else to peer into our lives, underneath the outer shell, and help us break free.
The principle: deliberately engage with someone who will challenge your assumptions and give you the tools to climb the next mountain.
I have some guys in my life who help make sure I don't live a sloppy life. But the coaching piece takes it to a new level for a few months that gives life-long impact.
3) Subtract or stop something. I have found that a new year is a great time to jettison something that I don't want, that is holding me back from my goals. It might be a grudge or some unforgiveness. It might be a habit, even a relationship.
2013 brought some significant changes to my life, one of which hit the bank account. Taking a significant pay cut meant finding some ways to make up dollars. So I made a spreadsheet with the starting figure the amount we would be missing through the end of 2014. I'm proud to say we're making incredible progress thanks to the Lord's blessing.
But what I've found is that the presence of the spreadsheet keeps me emotionally anchored in the events of the past. I don't want that going into the new year. So I'm deleting it.
The principle: you don't have to change everything to change everything. Think systemically. Changing one thing in your life will automatically shift most other things.
Don't take everything with you into the new year. Gid rid of something. Don't try to make a list of all the things you think you want to get rid of because you won't get rid of anything. Target one thing.
Choose something - a routine - a habit - challenge yourself. But first ask this question: What do I want to be different at the end of this new year? Choose something that will help you get there.
The principle: adding the right thing, just one thing, can set your life on a new trajectory. Draw yourself out of your comfort zone, like a mission trip.
What will be different in your life at the end of 2014? The choices you make today will help determine what it is. If you do nothing, then nothing will change.
Have a safe and happy New Year!