Never has a new year truly equated to new beginnings for me as 2018. For the first time in my professional (and academic) life, I start the new year with a completely blank sheet of paper!
Change and transition is definitely scary, but it’s also exhilarating and empowering. I am the author of my 2018 story …. it won’t just be my story to tell, but I will be crafting it from scratch! When navigating through uncertainty and transition, goal-setting (“new year’s resolutions”) takes on new importance.
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible.” — Tony Robbins
1. START WITH A HIGHER PURPOSE:
When you’re in career-transition, you answer to yourself. There are no formal performance metrics, quarterly reviews, sales targets, etc. to track against. There’s also no one to hold you accountable to your goals and resolutions, other than yourself …. it’s no wonder people fall short and give up on new year’s resolutions.
One of my favourite gifts that I received last year was a “gratitude journal” that a friend gave me. Initially, I started writing 5 to 10 things that I was thankful for each day. Eventually, I evolved journal to also include a 1 or 2 “contributions” that I made in the day … be it to the contributions to the community, loved ones or to myself. I started to notice the correlation between the two entries ….. it helped me understand “my purpose“.
This purpose in life – ensuring that I live each and everyday with a goal of making a contribution to myself or others – has been vital for me in managing through this period of professional transition. It’s helped me stay focused, disciplined, self-motivated and energized. Purpose and clarity of values provide us with a compass to navigate an uncertain future.
In today’s vastly changing world, where managing through uncertainty is necessary for success, more and more organizations are crafting “purpose statements” to inspire employees and express the organization’s impact and contribution on others.
2. JUST DO IT:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain
Another goal that I’ve set for myself for 2018 is to “just do” …. not just look to the future, but actually move forward! To pursue progress instead of chasing perfection. I know it seems simplistic and intuitive, but it’s so easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure or rejection.
“I hope this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making 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.” — Neil Gaiman
This transition is my opportunity to go for it, and pursue challenges and new goals. However, it’s not enough just “to do”. It’s also important to track these activities against our goals/purpose to ensure we’re on the right course, and know if we need to pivot and adjust along the way.
3. BE PRESENT:
This next goal is a key one for me: “Truly be present”. There’s the old adage that the problem in communication often occurs because “we often listen to reply, rather than listen to truly understand” …. Well, the same can be said for how we live our life. Sometimes we are so focused on how the particular activity or event leads to our goal or what learnings we should be gathering, that we actually inhibit growth.
As I’ve shared with you from previous blogs, I am taking ballroom/latin dance lessons – something brand new to me, with which I have absolutely no background or experience in. It drives my dance teacher crazy sometimes because I’m not always present, even though I think I am. For example, when he’s teaching a new step or choreography, we usually start by watching first … simple enough, right? Well, not in my case! Often, as I am “watching”, what I am truly doing is trying to guess where this all leads, that in the end, I completely miss the actual step. So when it’s time for me to repeat the step … I’m a complete blank. As it turns out, I am so focused on what I expect “the learnings” should be, that I miss out on the actual experience, and inhibit my learning and progress.
You can’t solve for a problem or attain a goal in the future, if you don’t truly understand or experience it today!
Yes, a GPS can provide you with directions to your destination, but unless you are present and take in the route along the way, you’ll not only always be dependant on that GPS to guide you – but more importantly, you’ll miss out on the beauty and the experience of the journey!
4. PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION:
Understanding your strengths and building (and maintaining!) your self-confidence is very important in times of transition. What’s equally – if not more – important is practicing “self-compassion”. Self-compassion is NOT self-pity, nor is it shrugging off ownership and responsibility for our weaknesses and failures.
Dr. Kristen Neff has identified Three Elements of Self Compassion:
- Self Kindness vs. Self Judgment – Accepting (and acknowledging) our mistakes, and focusing on what we can learn from our mistakes rather than being self-critical and judging ourselves for not being perfect.
- Common Humanity vs. Isolation – Being open about our vulnerabilities and evaluating ourselves with honesty and objectivity.
- Mindfulness vs. Over Identification – Understand that everyone makes mistakes and encounters failures and roadblocks along the way.
Self-compassion builds resiliency. Without the pressure to be perfect and view mistakes and weaknesses as negative, it’s easier to accept feedback and criticism …. and thus, it’s easier to move forward, improve and stick-handle roadblocks as they come along.
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” — Christopher K. Germer
Who knows what the future holds, but I’m going to put a stake in the ground and not be afraid to declare 2018 as my year! Today is my tomorrow …. It’s up to me to shape it and be the author of my destiny, and enjoy the journey along the way!
Happy New Year … Make 2018 YOUR year, too!