New Year’s resolution: it almost pains me to write those words. It’s not because I have bad memories of one’s I’ve made and fell short on or forgotten. Thankfully, that’s never been a tradition of mine. With all its good intentions, the NYR has become a cliché’ for failed goals, dreams, and desires. However, at this time of year, per the calendar, as we say goodbye, auf wiedersehen, farewell, and thank you (or good riddance) to that which is past; it is only natural to turn our gaze to the future. And, it is with this optimistic, wide-eyed gaze that we make the New Year’s resolution.
That sounds like a good place to make a declaration for the future. Positively say goodbye to the past, whether we judged it to be good or bad, and turn toward the future with renewed energy, enthusiasm, hope, and good vibes. So, why is it that so many people do not achieve their declaration? At this time, I’d like to expand the scope of this conversation from the NYR, to any declarations we make—personal or professional. One of the things I do not like about the turning of the new year is that it seems so many people wait to turn the page, even though each day represents an opportunity to complete what is past and to create a new future. There is no need to wait to December 31st. But, I digress.
So, how can you be successful in manifesting the things you declare? Or, more simply put, how can you get what you say you want?
STEP 1: SAY THANK YOU AND GOODBYE
In order to create something fresh and new, it is important to leave the past in the past as much as you can. This is not as easy as it sounds, and it is downright difficult for many. The key is to acknowledge the emotional components so they have less of an impact on your future. Tethering yourself to your past experiences emotionally drags those experiences with you into the future. Imagine trying to run with a rope tied around your waist with a length trailing behind you. Attached to the end of the rope are weights. This is the emotional weight of the past you are still carrying or, in this case, dragging. Do you think that weight might slow you down or at least make it more difficult to perform at your peak? Cut those ties by acknowledging the emotions of the situation. Be thankful for the situation and for the lessons it has taught you. Know that you are equipped with new wisdom to apply to future situations. As my good friend and teacher, best-selling author Caroline Myss, is fond of saying, “The more weight you are holding onto, the longer you have to wait for the life you desire.”
STEP 2: BE THE VISIONARY
Most people I know who have created the life they want and are living it to the fullest had to envision it at one point. Most, if not all, of the great creators who ever existed were so because of their ability to have and to articulate a clear vision. I know you have heard this a million times. And, you will continue to hear it until you start doing it.
Look into the future—from the present, not the past—and describe what you see for yourself. This takes some time, (allow yourself about an hour of quiet time), a pen, a pad, and patience.
Here is how you envision and capture the vision. As an exercise, imagine you are standing in the middle of a road with no cars on it. The road is straight and flat. Look out as far as you can see. Don’t stop where you can see comfortably; strain a little to see as far down the road as you possibly can—to the point where it looks all blurry. Now, transport yourself to that location and describe what you see in detail.
Do this exercise for your life: except distance is now time. Look into the future; look past the point of comfort. Remember, most growth happens in, what I call, the un-comfort zone. Now, fast forward, zoom in, and describe what you see in all its glorious detail. Whether it is ten years, five years, one year, six months, or two weeks, the process is the same. See yourself at that point in time and describe what you see. This is your vision. Write it down. When you do so, do it matter-of-factly like you are writing about a game you played in or a movie you’ve seen. It’s important as well to include the emotion you are noticing. “I’m driving a new Tesla Model S, and am so excited to be socially responsible, stylish, and go from 0-60 in 3 seconds.” Believe it as you write it. Napoleon Hill wrote in his classic Think and Grow Rich, “Whatever the mind can conceive AND believe, it can achieve.”
Now, although it is essential to complete your past and to envision your future, this alone is not enough to fuel creation. If you were building a fire, then it would be tantamount to clearing a space and gathering the wood. What you need next is the spark.
STEP 3: CONNECT WITH YOUR WHY
Now that you have your vision clearly written down on your pad, in all its glorious details including how you feel when you are standing inside the vision, ask yourself, “Why is this important to ME?” I believe the “to ME” is critical. It has to be personal; after all, this is your life. It doesn’t get any more personal than that. However, instead of saying, “It’s important because the kids deserve a better life,” say, “It’s important that I provide the best life possible for my children.” Go as deep as you can here. Years ago, when I was a personal trainer, I had a client who stated he wanted to lose weight and be healthier. Initially, his reasoning was the result of a recent physical, the advice of his doctor, and the pleading of his wife. After some gentle probing, he revealed that he had a young daughter and wanted to walk her down the aisle and dance with her on her wedding day. He would be well north of seventy by the time this was even probable. When he stated this WHY, he had an emotional, visceral connection to it. This is the type of WHY you want to identify. Ask yourself, what you would use to push that man to and past his intermittent goals: the note from the doctor or his daughter’s sadness that her daddy did not get to walk her down the aisle?
STEP 4: A.C.T.—ACTION CHANGES THINGS
So, basically, when you realize your vision, you have changed a portion or portions of your previous reality. Now, things are always changing. As a matter of fact, the only thing in life that is constant is change. We know that you don’t have to do anything to make the cells of the lining of your stomach change; they will change frequently on their own. The same is true for other cells. Then, it is not a question of will things change, but what they will change to. Because you have created a vision, you know what it will look like and feel like when the transformation is complete. However, you still have to move through time and space to get there. How you do that is simply called “your actions.” And, if your actions are not congruent and incrementally aligned with your end result or vision, then you will not get the change you envisioned. You see, we are always in action. Even when we are not in action. Just like not choosing is a choice.
So, action changes things. You’re WHY fuels the action and your vision is the beacon that calls to you. But these can’t be random actions all the time. The importance of planning is not overlooked when building a house. It is a step-by-step process which will get tweaked along the way. However, the plan exists to go from a vacant lot to a marvelous home. The same should be true with your life and the particular vision you are working on. Be brutally honest with yourself regarding where you currently are in your life. Be clear where it is you want to get to (vision). Then, chart a journey along a timeline. Sometimes, this can resemble reverse engineering. The time line component is critical in this process. It creates a sense of urgency that engages our competitive spirit as well as provides the basic metric of a due date to hit or measure against.
STEP 5: CLEARLY SEE WHO YOU NEED TO BE
I saved this step for last because of its importance to the process in the manifestation of your vision. I did not want it to get lost in the body of the article because it is a bit nebulous. It is about defining a way of being from which all your actions will stem. The word used for defining a way of being, at any given time, is “context.” Because we are human beings, 24/7, 365 days a year, from the day we are born until the moment of our death, we are always being. Since we are always being, and context is the definition of that being, then we always have a context. The only question is whether you created your context or whether it being created by the circumstances of your life.
Look at context as a container or a parameter of truth within which we think, feel, sense, and take action. Our thinking, feelings, and actions are based largely on the stories and beliefs we hold to be true. A belief is a thought that you make real or accept as true. Choosing to make a thought real or not, is a decision made by the very power of your will. Henry Ford, one of the greatest visionaries of our time, famously said, “Whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right.” So, then, within any given context you hold, there are outcomes that are possible and impossible.
Give yourself the gift of defining a context that you want to hold and live into. Write it down and read it every day, several times, until you feel it in your bones. When things are not going according to plan, do not fall into the trap of looking at your actions first. Look at your context first. Chances are your context has shifted. That’s what context does. It shifts from situation to situation. We re-act. We adapt. And, at times, we conform. We are human beings, not preprogrammed robots. It’s natural and necessary on many levels.
However, when you pre-ordain who you need to be, when you are clear in where you are going, when you have left the past in the past, when you are fueled by a powerful WHY, and when you are armed with a detailed battle plan, then everything is in place for you. You just have to do it.