“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
– Tony Robbins
Last night, my husband Chris and I found ourselves dining at a new place – Stone Creek Dining Company. It had a cool vibe, boasted a rustic atmosphere, and offered a fairly diverse menu. I spent quite a bit of time studying the menu to ensure I would select the best possible entre from the list of possibilities. I found myself torn between a filet and an interesting pasta dish. In the end, the filet won out. It did not disappoint. The amount of time I spent perusing the menu that night got me thinking about the approaching new year and goal setting, in general.
I want you to imagine yourself looking at a broad menu; one abundant with choices. There are so many options – you aren’t sure what to try. You certainly don’t want to screw it up. Should you go with something safe? Should you venture outside of your comfort zone to try something new? Will you stick with something you believe to be a decent option, or give yourself an opportunity to delve into something completely different and potentially the most amazing thing you’ve ever tried? We each have certain tendencies in this regard. Some of us are bold and daring regularly. Others of us typically choose to play it safe. We tend to make our decisions in much the same way. Whether it’s a menu of food selections or a list of possible New Year’s resolutions to be made, we ask ourselves these questions.
We have some choices to make. With each selection we choose, we are giving of ourselves and our time to one thing and casting aside another. Ultimately, it is our decisions that determine our destiny.
Should you keep moving in a comfortable direction in your career? Should you be bold and daring and try something new this year? Whether it’s striving to become a better person, parent, paralegal or spouse, or stepping into a new and exciting venture you’ve never been bold enough to try in the past – you’ll be pondering the menu of life, deciding what option seems most appealing and best for you, as you embark into the year of 2014.
When making your resolutions this year, ask yourself the following:
What matters to you most in the coming year? This could cover several areas of your life, for example, being a better parent AND taking a big step in your career. Come up with a few key things you would rather die than fail at accomplishing. Be specific. Make it measurable. Instead of saying, “I will be a better parent,” state a specific thing you will do to make that a reality, i.e., “I will spend one hour of quality time with my child each night reading a book or playing a board game” (even if I am low on time, high on stress, and chasing what’s left of my sanity like it’s a shopping receipt swirling in the wind.) Rather than stating you will “become a better paralegal,” state something more specific, such as, “I will attend at least 3 webinars this year.”
Do not create a laundry list. If you aren’t willing to pass up that chocolate cupcake, forget about the 10 pounds you’ve been trying to lose for the past 3 years. (Me, too. Is that buttercream???)
Begin each of your stated resolutions with the words, “I absolutely will _______.” If you take that laundry list and put these words in front of it, it will seem ridiculous – it should. Focus on what matters. This is the “big dreams that matter” list.
You can always make a separate list of personal goals throughout the year, but THIS list will contain the things that are of the utmost importance to you; things you absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably must and will do. This year. They are that important to you.
Who can you surround yourself with to help get you there? The people we surround ourselves with drastically impact our life. As Jim Rohn infamously stated (something along the lines) you are the sum of the five people with whom you most closely associate. Whether these individuals are offering unforeseen opportunities you never knew to be possibilities or simply shining a torch of inspiration to light your path, surround yourself with people you want to accompany you on the journey.
Do not limit yourself to people you see face-to-face in the world around you. Some of the most motivated and inspirational people I’ve met in my life are people I’ve never been in the same room with, unless you count a virtual chat room on LinkedIn. Interact with the types of people who will help take you higher as a person. Focus not on the potential opportunities each could bring you, but on the spirit of the person and how he or she could elevate your attitude, aptitude, career, and life in ways you never even imagined. Find people who make you want to do more, be more, and live your life out loud.
Be realistic – but more importantly, think big. I know that may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Come up with 1-3 aspirations that are in line with your potential, and strengths, but not so far off your current path that they are unrealistic. Do not pretend you are going to become an astronaut if you are a personal injury paralegal. Remain in the outer rung of reality.
That said – think big. I believe one of the biggest problems we, as individuals, generally suffer from is a failure to think big. We get too caught up in that first prong of being realistic that we often sideline our own potential and railroad our ambitions (along with the dreams we could create) if only we would get out of our own way, and think big. You don’t always have to see a clear cut path with a well-marked road sign, while holding a roadmap in your hands. But you do need to be willing to declare your intentions, take a twisty, unknown path to meet new people, and try new things (occasionally being shanked by a thorn or two) along the journey to make your way there. You must know where you’re going.
I would have told you I could never become a writer. I had no experience. Yet, I am one.
I would have told you there is no way someone with an associate’s degree could earn what I earn. Yet, I earn it.
I would have told you there is no way I could find a career path from a trail paved in question marks after flunking out of college my sophomore year of college at the age of 18. Yet, here I sit in a profession I absolutely adore.
I would have told you I could never in a million years become a blogger and feel comfortable sharing small slivers of my soul with people via articles shared on the internet. Yet, those pieces mark times I’ve felt most alive. I am a blogger.
I took some twisted paths, met some amazingly cool people, was offered opportunities often disguised as menial tasks or hard work, was shanked by a thorn or twelve, and each one of these things became a living, breathing reality. Yet, I had no roadmap.
Don’t worry about seeing a clear cut path to the goal. Concern yourself with thinking big, and aligning your passions and strengths toward a big, lofty goal that would make you so excited your passion might erupt right through your skin; something that will stir your soul, and lead you down that dusky path toward something great.
Seek inspiration weekly, if not daily. Staying perpetually inspired is difficult. Remain cognizant and intentional about your need for regular inspiration. Whether it’s reading a great book, chatting with an inspiring person, reading a blog or perusing quotes to find ones that move you – regularly seek out inspiration. Anywhere and everywhere. Inspired people get more done. Inspired people enjoy life more. Inspired people not only think big – they make big things happen. This will be an ongoing battle as you embark upon the new year, so make it a point to consistently put inspiration in your path.
If you find yourself less than inspired, find that book, reach out to that inspiring friend or search for those quotes. You’ll need ‘em.
Read these quotes.
Maybe this year…we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential. – Ellen Goodman
Great things never came from comfort zones. – Unknown
If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. – Wanda Sykes
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – or write or dream or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. – Neil Gaiman
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing – Do It. – Neil Gaiman
Will it be easy?
Will it be worth it?
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Unknown
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot
This is the year to be who you know you are.
So as you embark upon the creation of that pesky list of resolutions, keep these tips in mind. Realize your natural tendencies to play it safe or become overly-daring, and make a mental note whether you need to deviate from the norm. Aspire to something greater. Risk more. Do more. Become more. Be realistic, but think big. Be willing to take a step down that unmarked path into greatness. (Who knows, you may even find a cupcake on your way past those thorns.)
Wishing you a fabulous New Year’s Eve filled with the love of family and friends, glimmers of ambition, inspiration, courage, and hope, and a year that is absolutely, amazingly, awe-inspiringly wonderful.
Now get to work on that list!