Thoughts for the year ahead…

Hi Lifetickers,

Firstly, let me wish you a very Happy New Year! Whether you’ve recently joined us or have been tracking goals with Lifetick since May 2008, we are immensely grateful that you have chosen to do so. Our greatest satisfaction comes from the emails we regularly receive informing us of individual success and we hope this continues throughout 2011!

Secondly however, I wanted to share some thoughts for the year ahead. After all, it is at this very time that we can perhaps best let go of what was and embrace what will be. Having said that, there is much to learn about ourselves from the past. Who we’d like to be versus who we really are sometimes throws up discrepancies that can be hard to accept. Nevertheless, taking the time to analyse this is perhaps the best way to start the new year. To use a simple analogy, it’s not much good holding a compass if we don’t know where our starting point is.

So how do we actually find this starting point? It begins with honesty. The ability to see ourselves for who we really are lies at the very start of our life’s journey and should really be a constant checkpoint along the way. It should neither be approached with guilt nor rose coloured glasses, but rather a discerning, inquisitive and objective mind. One that hopes to learn from what has passed, both good and bad. In fact, I am reminded in my own life constantly that everything is learned in failure. Whilst failures are hard to accept in any area of our lives, the very fact that each failure has something to teach us means we already have a positive aspect to embrace when moving forward in our lives. Therefore, honesty with ourselves is crucial if we are to understand who we are and why we are where we are.  As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”, so too does it carve out our very characters. How we deal with a situation today is very much the product of our previous experiences in life. We can only hope that we are applying our experiences and learnings in the best possible ways. Always remember that every step you take in life is like a small chiseling of a Michelangelo masterpiece – we define who we are day in, day out, by what we do… and certainly what we don’t do. It is not the big events in our lives that define us, but rather the small day to day efforts that become habits that really define us. But more on this shortly…

Step 1: Take a good honest look at who you are and where you are right now

– Is this who you want to be?

– Is this where you want to be?

Seek neither to condemn nor praise, but simply understand who you are. You may be surprised.

Having delved into the past, it is nice then to gaze into the future. There is no doubt that the New Year is a fitting time to do such. Despite my personal reservations about New Year’s Resolutions, there can be no doubting that the beginning of the calendar year is a time when we feel most excited and motivated about the next chapters in our lives. Why not then devote some serious time to planning it? This post isn’t intended to be a full resource on how to go about this task, but I will provide an overview:

Step 2: Define who you want to be and where you want to be

– What is it you really want to do with your life?

– Why aren’t you doing it?

– How can you start doing it?

– What will help you get there?

Don’t think small. Think big. Are we talking 20 years or 12 months? Have you thought about your core values in life? Do your goals align to these values. You will find Lifetick provides some pointers on establishing these, but you will need to put some thought into it beforehand. Take the time to actually write down your thoughts (or better still – enter them into Lifetick), but in any case, make it an active task as opposed to a passive one. Set aside time by yourself (or with your partner) to really get down where you want to be and who you want to be. But you still need another element to complete this stage:

Step 3: Decide why you want to be who you want to be and why you want to be where you want to be

I’ll admit that last statement sounded confusing with all the why’s, who’s and where’s in it. So let me paraphrase: For everything in Step 2 ask yourself the same question – Why? Would you believe that people actually march ahead defining all these grand plans and statements without really taking the time to actually work out why they wanted them in the first place? And to top it off, would it surprise you to know that sometimes the two don’t even match? Sometimes we think we want something, but when we really pit it against our core values and habits, the reality is they simply don’t match. And that’s ok. It would be worse to pursue it for months only to be disappointed with success. Think laterally, work out the why and it may redefine the what!

Step 4: Assess the gap.

Any business analyst understands that a gap analysis talks about the difference between what exists now and what needs to be in place. You too should do your own gap analysis between Step 1 and Step 2.

– What is it going to take to change who you are?

– What new habits will you need to have in place?

– What old habits will need to be waved farewell?

– And most importantly, what are you prepared to sacrifice?

I think the last point sums life up perfectly. Are we really prepared to make sacrifices? I hate to say it, but it would seem the overriding answer is “no”. After all, it is much easier to sit in front of the tv for an extra thirty minutes than to do exercise or read to the kids or work on the novel or produce a new blog post (ahem). But nevertheless, we are capable of making sacrifices and we should draw on those around us who do for inspiration. As I mentioned earlier in the post, it is not the big events in life that define us. It is the day to day stuff. Habits. Good ones. If you are to take anything from this post today, then it is this: Create one new good habit in your life starting today. It sounds simple, but it is hard. Why? Because it requires that which we are least able to give  – consistent positive behaviour. Whether it be exercise, study, healthy dieting, family time, reading or positive thinking, you need to find a way to kick off your own positive habit. And then you will be amazed because without even noticing it, your life will have changed. For the better. Not just because of this one habit, but because it has its very own ripple effect and before you know it, it will flow into other areas in your life. And what started as one habit may end up becoming five or six. Think about it. What is one habit you could start today? Now get started.

Step 5: Find contentment.

As much as Lifetick is about achievement, we are also very much about contentment here at Meridian 86, so our final word has to be on this. Whatever it is you pursue in 2011, make sure you enjoy it. Smile when the going is good and suck it in when it gets tough. Cherish the hard times knowing that at those very moments in your life you have your very own Michelangelo carving out your character. It will serve you well in the future so be thankful for what it provides. Not every goal we set we achieve and regardless of whether we achieve or not, lest we find contentment then we will never be able to be happy with what we have done in our lives.

Good luck in 2011. We sincerely wish you the best and are truly thankful for your support. We hope in 12 months time we can all reflect on what has been a good year.