Most years have their share of ups and down, triumphs and losses, in both our private and public spheres. The year 2016 was a particularly intense one for many people. Facing the New Year brings up a host of mixed emotions. So how do we say goodbye to the year we just lived through and start 2017 with some hope and renewed commitment?
First, here is what not to do. Many people default to focusing on the negative and what they don’t have and/or didn’t accomplish during the year when they start a review. This is no surprise because we live in a culture that is a constant quest for “new and improved.” We are trained to compare ourselves to others and to be always looking for and becoming “more”.
Comparing ourselves to others from this mindset means we usually come up short. This mindset is the place where personal gremlins thrive and tell us that we aren’t ever enough. If we don’t pause and appreciate what we already have, and who we already are, the quest for “more” can be more demoralizing than motivating.
The truth is we are built to be more motivated by positive reinforcement than shame, fear and regret. Painful experiences can be catalysts for growth. But we need positive reinforcement to sustain the momentum required for creating change. Punishment is a lousy motivator for lasting change and shame just makes us shrink.
So, let’s start by saying thank you for what we already have in our lives and what we don’t need to fix. It is easy to forget how many people may be wishing and praying for things we are taking take for granted. Wanting what we have can be a radical and critical first step in starting a new year strong.
Say goodbye to 2016 by writing a list and saying thank you for what you already have in your life. Take 10 minutes to write down everything you can think of to say thank you for this year. From this mindset of appreciation your mood will likely shift. And, just as important, more likely you will commit to taking actions in the direction you want to experience more of in 2017.
Most of us need success reminders – especially when we are facing a new challenge and uncharted waters. It’s easy to lose perspective as we experience the inevitable ups and downs of making change real. To be successful with our resolutions we must find ways to stay motivated and hold the course before the benefits of our new choices show up.
So take pen to paper and record an inventory of your successes in 2016. Our success inventory is evidence of our capacity to change. Reviewing and acknowledging our achievements offers us proof that we are making progress and can rise to whatever challenge is next.
Our inventory can remind us to have some faith in ourselves and keep going. It can also take away our excuses for staying stuck. Recognizing where we are already successful can build our confidence to make more change and face whatever is in store for us in the New Year.
And don’t just consider your obvious successes. Think about areas where you made progress by taking smaller steps toward a larger goal. The lessons you learned when things didn’t turn out the way you planned. How you managed to show up and be gracious while getting through difficult times.
The purpose of doing a success inventory is to support you to achieve more of what you want. Take a moment to reflect upon the questions below. Acknowledge where you are succeeding. Recognize your strengths and the people who make up your tribe.
Want what you already have and declare what you’d like more of in your work and life in 2017.
- What are the three best things that happened this year that you didn’t see coming?
- Thinking about last year, what are you most proud of?
- What were your biggest successes in the personal area of your life?
- What were your biggest successes in the professional area of your life in 2016?
- What “smaller,” less obvious things are you proud of achieving?
- Where did you not achieve what you set out to accomplish? What smaller steps have you made towards larger aims that you need to recognize yourself for?
- Where did you miss the mark or make a mistake that needs recognizing? What did you learn? What are you proud of in the way you handled it?
- Who do you need to thank for their contribution to your successes in the past year?
- Entering a new year, what do you need to stop blaming yourself for?
- As you crossover into a new year, what can you not deny you are really good at?
- As you think about the year ahead, who are the people who really have your back and you want by your side in 2017?
- How can you lead with your strengths to get more of what you want in 2017?
Happy New Year