After you’ve done a thing the same way over two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over. – Alfred Perlman
End of year is usually when people get introspective. Take advantage of that reflection and ask the big question Perlman implies. What do you need to throw away and start all over?
This might be difficult to admit – it could be a relationship you’ve outgrown. It could a belief that is preventing you from making a change or taking a chance. It could be a habit that you do by default.
Make a list of any areas you’d like to improve. Try to think of at least 5 alternatives to take in each area.
Don’t assume you need to more of the same thing.
“Now” is the operative word. Everything you put in your way is just a method of putting off the hour when you could actually be doing your dream. You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating. – Barbara Sher
What could you do right now that moves you toward your goal?
Set a timer for 15 minutes so it’s not a big block of time, and just do something. If you mean to do more networking, email people in your contact list that you haven’t connected with in the last 30 days. Do part of that exercise routine you mean to do regularly. If you want to do more reading, pick something up and read as far as you can in 15 minutes.
Stay at 15 minutes for at least a week so you work on consistency and routine and not just duration. You also now build you goal into a daily habit.
So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. – Christopher Reeve
This is so true of big goals. Graduation seems daunting to a child, but we’ve done it multiple times – elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and beyond. It is impossible and then inevitable. Saving money sometimes seems futile till you check your account balance years later and realize that the drip savings have become significant. I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary – in high school, when we met, I still remember wondering if we’d ever start dating!
What would you do if you believed your goals were not impossible, but inevitable? What would you start? Start this now.
The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this; decide what you want. – Ben Stein
One exercise I give all of my clients when deciding on the ideal next job is to make a list of everything they want. This typically numbers in the dozens – salary, bonus, flexibility, great boss, mentorship, etc. Then, they pick their top half. Then, the top half of that. Then, they keep dividing in half until they can no longer imagine taking a job that doesn’t meet the remaining criteria. These things are the real deal breakers. These things are what you really want.
You can do the same exercise outside of career – with your personal goals, your weekly to do list, even your list of approved cheat foods (my deal-breakers here are chocolate-covered nuts and ice cream).
What are the nice-to-haves and what are the MUST-haves? How much time and attention are you giving the MUST-haves? How can you better preserve your limited bandwidth for what you really want?
If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself. – Stephen Covey
I am guilty of the blame game, myself – if only he had followed up on that, if only their budget wasn’t so restrictive, if only she wasn’t favoring her preferred vendors.
Instead I need to stay focused on what I can do: How can I follow up? How can I rework my proposal to fit the budget? How can I get on the preferred list?
In what areas of life and career are you giving up control? Where do you assume “this is just the way things are”? What is your role in keeping (and therefore upending) business-as-usual?
I think the key is for women not to set any limits — Martina Navratilova
I would say that not setting limits is the key for everyone. Can I do one more push-up? Can I fill my boss’ role? Can I do what I love, live the life I want to lead, and get paid fabulously well for it? Why not?
I was freelancing when my two children were very young, and one of my clients was an organization where I could see myself in-house. I didn’t want to work the traditional 9-5, and I still wanted the flexibility to pursue creative projects (I was acting at the time), and I still expected to make six-figures. So that’s what happened. It’s not typical, but it can be done.
Where are you setting limits or making assumptions? There are no limits.
I never worry about action, but only inaction – Winston Churchill
Inaction is a choice to do nothing. You do take an action by doing nothing – you watch possibilities pass by.
Maybe it feels less risky to do nothing. Well, you have minimized the risk from taking action. But you have increased any risks that come from the inaction. It can be risky to do nothing – inertia sets in, problems become larger, opportunities become more distant.
It’s easier to course correct than to get started. That’s why I love Churchill’s quote. With action, you’re in motion and you can tweak, adjust, refine as needed. With inaction, you have to amass the momentous energy to lift off and start from nothing.
What action can you take today?
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me — Ayn Rand
Do you wait for permission or do you just start and persist till you feel like doing otherwise?
In what area of life do you feel confident and creative? Maybe it’s in your volunteer role, where you have no problems coming up with ideas or raising your hand for the next project.
In what area of life do you want more confidence? Maybe it’s your job, where you haven’t asked for that raise you feel you deserve.
How can you bring more of the strengths you already have in one area of your life to another? Pretend that your boss is the head of development. Script your raise request with the energy you propose new fundraising ideas. Draw parallels between your volunteer work and your paid work until you can see how similar they are and you feel more comfortable applying your confidence across the board.
Remind yourself that you are unstoppable.