It's time for a new beginning. I originally wrote but did not publish this article at the end of the third quarter in 2020. As I update this today, we were still in the midst of one of the largest worldwide pandemics in history.
People all over the work have been quarantined or "sheltered in place." We are isolated from each other and separated from our hopes, dreams, and goals.
And, as a consequence, we've waged war on small business. Millions of people are out of work.
Still, as we make our way into a New Year, there is hope that we can put the challenges of 2020 behind us and start anew in 2021. That will not happen by chance. It will happen by choice. Here’s how to ensure that you succeed in the coming year and beyond.
Focus on What You Can Control
One of the essential perspectives we can have is an honest assessment of what we can control and what we can't. You cannot change the past. You can't change your past choices or actions or what has happened to you.
You can change the future by what you choose to think, say, and do. Starting today, make it a point to focus only on what you can control or influence.
Everything is Movement
Once you know what you can control or influence, take action. Nothing happens until something moves. We may want significant changes this year, but a new beginning starts with the small steps. Get clear on what you want. Decide to get it. Then act.
Don't strain or struggle. Just take a step. And, then take the next.
I'm writing this on the first day of the New Year. Regardless of when you are reading this, it is the start of something new: a new quarter, month, week, or day. Today is the perfect day to make the changes you want to make, grow the business you want to grow, and become the person you want to become.
Look to the Future
Start with a vision of what's possible. Dream a bit. What do you want your business and your life to look like in seven, ten, or fifteen years? What is the best-case scenario? Wave the magic wand. What does the ideal look like to you?
With that vision in mind, what progress would make you happy in the next 3-5 years? Allow this mid-term vision to provide you direction, a destination.
Assess the Past
Now that you know where you're going. Let's take a look at where you've been. Take some time today to look back at what you've accomplished and where you've fallen short.
Take some time to travel back in time. Think back 3-5 years from today.
- What were your goals and dreams?
- What did you want to accomplish?
- What impact did you want to have?
Now come back to today. Which of those dreams became a reality? What did you accomplish? What do you regret?
Chart Your Course
Every trip begins with a destination and a starting point. You now have both. You know where you want to go, and you know where you are starting from. It's time to chart your course.
Based on your 3-5 year vision, what are you committed to accomplishing in the next twelve months? Be decisive. Set a clear and compelling target. Make sure it is really important to you. What is it? Write it down.
Now, what three key moves do you need to make in the next twelve months to make that outcome a reality? Those key moves become your focus for the next year.
Set Your Milestones
You've got a destination and you know where you’re starting from. You've identified three key moves you need to make to reach your target. Now, it's time to establish your milestones.
For each of your three key moves, identify three to five supporting actions that move you toward where you want to be. When you do, you'll now have nine to fifteen focused milestones toward the achievement of your clear and definite goal.
Schedule Your Trip
With your destination and your milestones set, it's time to schedule your trip. The milestones you've created now become weekly targets that focus your daily execution.
In his book The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Most People Do in a Year, Brian Moran encourages you to set quarterly goals with weekly action plans. Your key moves become your quarterly goals. Your supporting activities become your weekly targets. All you have to do is take one small step each day to complete your weekly objective.
Keep Your Focus
If you identify a compelling vision for your future, determine what progress would make you happy over the next 3-5 years, create a clear goal with achievable milestones and schedule your action, what can keep you from achievement? For many, it's that their motivation wanes.
A new beginning is exciting, but the middle can become tiresome. One way to maintain the excitement is to keep your compelling vision in front of you. So, I encourage you to create a theme for your year.
Look at your vision, your goals, and your milestones. What is the common theme? What compelling word or phrase describes what you are trying to accomplish? Let that mantra keep you focused and motivated during your journey.
If you want help coming up with your mantra for the year, check One Word that will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. They provide simple exercises to lead you to your focus word for the year.
To Have a New Beginning, Make a Choice and Take a Step
Today marks a new beginning. Will you take advantage of it?
It won't be easy, but it is simple.
Choose to focus on what you can control. Create a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Take a step. Then take the next.
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