2014 – Setting Yourself Up For Success.

Welcome to 2014, everyone!  On this first day of the new year, I have some thoughts to share about setting yourself up for success for 2014.  As I’ve read the latest posts on Facebook and talked with people in person, I can’t help but notice how frequently the tone for this New Year is exactly the same as New Years in the past.  Things like, “I am so glad 2013 is over.  Let’s hope 2014 is a WAY better year!” are pretty common.  Well, here’s the thing.  If that’s how you feel, then there is pretty much a 0% chance that 2014 will be any better than 2013 was.  In fact, it will likely be worse, because you are clearly in a pattern of feeling like life is something that happens to you, and that pattern is a self-fulfilling prophecy that creates a downward spiral.  There is absolutely zero difference in any given year from an objective standpoint.  This morning, you woke up and the sun rose in exactly the same fashion that it did yesterday and the day before.  The world outside of your mind has absolutely no idea that anything different has happened.  Wouldn’t it be great if something actually saw our posts on Facebook and said, “Oh wow… Yeah, I forgot all about so and so in 2013.  I’m gonna make sure 2014 is WAY better for them!”  Sorry, but it doesn’t happen like that, and it never will, not next year, and not the year after.

The good news is that actually means that the power to make 2014 a great year is in your own hands.  It starts by taking a good, solid look at everything you are already doing well.  Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot, you are likely doing a lot more things well than you think you are.  Take some time to do a personal inventory of things that you are proud of, challenges that you have overcome, etc.  If it feels best to write them down, do so.  And don’t stop with doing it once.  Remind yourself as frequently as possible what you are already doing well.  By doing this, you are creating fertile soil for your new intentions and goals in this new year.  If, in your mind, you come from a place of abundance, you will undoubtebly attract more abundance in your life.  Aligning yourself with a humble sense of pride and pleasure is powerful conditioning, and these “muscles” need to be worked often or they atrophy.

As humans, every single one of us has areas where we are functional and areas where we are not so functional.  Most of us try to avoid dealing with the areas where we are not so functional.  We react defensively when someone shows us our blind spots.  We avoid taking on certain jobs or tasks because they are something we don’t feel good at or because they drag us down.  This is something that everyone, to some degree or another, does.  But these areas of dysfunction are where the good stuff is.  If we stay within our comfort zones, life is not very rewarding, but if we willingly take on new challenges, we are constantly rewarded with new feelings of accomplishment.  And the more we make conscious choices to take on new challenges, the less we feel challenged by the outside world, because guess what?  There is no outside world.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should go and try to whip yourself into shape in ways that you never have before.  As I’m sure most of you know, new gym memberships are at their peak at the start of every new year, and within two or three weeks, only a small portion of the new members are still going.  This is because our tendency is to react to our dysfunctions rather than to respond to them.  A reaction is emotional and involves going overboard with our expectations of ourselves and coming from a place of “needing to change.”  Actions based in emotions always die out eventually.  A response, on the other hand, can be neutral and realistic.  You can give yourself a pat on the back for everything you’re doing well, excuse your dysfunctions and not allow yourself to feel guilty.  Then you can make a pragmatic goal to set yourself up for success.  Maybe you don’t need the gym membership.  Maybe you just need to take a 15-minute walk every morning.  Maybe you don’t need to take a vacation to the Bahamas with your family.  Maybe you just need to carve out a couple hours each week to focus your energy on your family.  Realistic, doable goals are the key to success.

Don’t worry about making 2014 better than any other year.  If you consistently remind yourself how much you’re already doing well and give yourself new, short-term, attainable goals on an ongoing basis, it will be.