A step-by-step action plan for making 2016 your b*tch.
When I was five years old, I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything in the world. The idea of soaring through space in a rocket ship, exploring the planets (and in a cute suit to boot) was all I needed to know that adulthood was going to be pretty great. Then, I caught a glimpse of Marilyn Monroe on my television screen and decided that I had to be a movie star.
Unwilling to give into adult logic and give up one dream for another, I thoughtfully analyzed how to make it work and declared, "I will be the first movie star in space!" I've never run low on ambition, but time has shown me that goals without action quickly become unrealized, and sometimes carry with them the thick stench of regret.
While I'm quite happy with my career choices (though soaring through space and walking the red carpet would both be nice), there are other missed opportunities that sometimes taunt me and leave me wishing I would've been more strategic in my execution. If you're looking to build a better 2016, these five steps may help you move a little closer to your goals. Start this New Year's Eve.
1. Read the ending first
If you've ever sat around a table with a bunch of colleagues in a never-ending “brainstorming” session, you know there's a fine line between sharing plausible ideas and drowning in a sea of loud opinions. While it's fine to play “what if” and daydream, without an initial end result in mind you simply can’t strategize.
This means you can put a plan in place, but what good is that if the plan you have isn't realistic? Sit down and really think about where it is that you want to go, what “it” looks like, and what you want to experience when there. Write down what your dream looks like without limitations.
2. Try to kill your own dream
OK, hear me out on this before you label me a hater. There are two certain truths when it comes to goal-getting. First, there will be people around you who will love to tell you all of the reasons your dream can't come true. Second, you will either suffer a wild delusion thinking nothing can stop you, or you will have moments when fear sets in and you begin to listen to that pesky critic in the back of your brain. You know the inner critic; the one who will assure you that you're never going to make it, aren't smart enough, are a fraud, or whatever other lie they decide to tell.
The best way to protect yourself from being sidetracked by negative statements is to sit down and think of all of the objections that might come your way, and if you can, to come up with ideas to how to overcome them. Having an answer isn't as important as preparing to hear the swipes, since there's nothing worse than flying high only to be tripped by a trap you never saw coming.
3. Ignore the big picture
I once left a very important, long-term relationship in a fashion that left little time for forethought and plenty of time to be overwhelmed by the emotional and practical hurdles that immediately followed.
I confessed my panic to my best friend's husband, a smart and savvy trader who was used to snap-decision making, and he looked at me and said something that changed my approach to life forever: “You will destroy yourself with the big picture because you have no idea what it is just yet. Instead of looking at the whole, focus six inches in front of your face. If that's too much, focus on putting your feet in front of you to take your next three steps.”
He was clear that he was talking about actual, physical movement, but the three-step theory held serious weight and became a very important piece of my professional and personal life, and has been instrumental in the successes I've enjoyed. Think of three daily steps to help you achieve three weekly goals which will help you achieve three monthly goals. Again, write them down and stick to them unless you find a better step to stick to, in which case, do better.
4. Cut the crap
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who do only what makes them happy in the moment and those who do the things that make them unhappy in order to achieve their greatest happiness. You'll always be too tired to get out of bed, too interested in Kim Kardashian to log off of Perez, and too busy to meet up with the mentor. Where there's a will, there's a way to distract.
Prepare for setbacks, negative talk and excuses, and then stand up to them and move past them one courageous step at a time. Remember, you’re trying to change your status quo, which starts with changing your rituals and reactions.
Educate yourself. Whether it’s a panic attack before you interview for your “dream job” or crippling anxiety about where you stand with the man you're currently seeing, uncertainty often scares and intimidates us. Forget reinventing the wheel; find out the best wheel to use and use it to move forward.
5. Lose the losers
This is a big one, and it isn't always an easy thing to do. There are people who will yes you to death and people who will annihilate you with their negativity. There are those who are intimidated by achievement, jealous of movement, or somehow equate your own successes with their failures. All will drag you down.
Surrounding yourself with people who push themselves, inspire by example, offer constructive criticism and challenge you to be your best you is going to keep you on-track and motivated. Motion-creates-motion and often turn dreams into bigger dreams, which, if we stay on track, become reality.