Here we are at the beginning of not only a brand-new year, but a whole new decade. Such a great time to set new goals and capitalize on a new year. Do you feel stuck or maybe behind? Does your life need a boost? Are you doing well, but feel you could be performing so much better? As we enter a new decade this could be an inflection point for you. Seize this moment rather than letting it slip by. Accelerate toward the future you always imagined.
Some may think, “I should be much farther along than I am right now. I’m 36 and feel stagnant.” As you look to a new decade, may I steal a phrase from Buzz Lightyear, one of my favorite Toy Story characters, “To infinity and beyond!” Consider these four essential principles for a more fulfilling, rewarding and profitable future. They will help you launch a great 2020 and beyond!
- Know What You Want
- Know Who You Are
- Know that Success is a Journey
- Know Your Game Plan & Work It
Know What You Want
You would think that knowing what you want is the easiest step of all and yet it’s often the most difficult. In my 40 years of leadership experience I have observed first hand that most lack a clear sense of purpose. This is a terrible commentary. Many go through mortality lacking vision and clear objectives. We often bounce in and out of purpose depending on the circumstances of our lives. Many tend to be motivated more by the stick than the carrot and that’s no way to live.
Over the years, I’ve met with thousands of people both in my professional and ecclesiastical life. Many have a broad sense of what they are pursuing, such as completing their education, finding a new job, making more money or starting a family, etc. In addition, many get buried in the “How?” and forget that the fuel in life’s gas tank is a compelling and inspiring “Why?”
To experience your personal makeover, take time to determine your “Why?”. To be effective, begin by setting aside some alone time. Find a special pondering spot to organize your thoughts. For many it may include prayerful consideration or searching an inspiring source for insight. It might even involve meeting with a trusted friend or mentor for direction and counsel. As Stephen Covey so clearly taught, “Begin with the end in mind.” I have asked many new clients, “If we were to get back together in 5 years, what has to happen over the next 5 years for you to feel completely happy and fulfilled in this relationship?” This is a powerful question to help me understand how to help my clients move towards their “Why?”
The same theme applies when setting one’s life course. For example, “What must happen in the next decade for you to feel complete, secure, accomplished or joyous in your life?” This is a great question to help pin point important goals or themes for your future.
I had a business coach years ago who taught me the importance of identifying unique abilities. He gave me the assignment to choose 15 people who knew me best, both personally and professionally. Then, the task was to compose a letter asking them to respond in writing regarding what they perceived were my greatest strengths, talents and unique abilities. Initially, this felt rather daunting and a bit scary. I took the leap of faith and followed through and the honest feedback was revolutionary for me. I have learned over the years that we often have a hard time seeing ourselves. Engaging others in a discovery process like this can be a valuable tool in providing insight into setting life goals.
Another necessary component is effective listening. But to whom, you might ask? Listening to the quiet thoughts and feelings of your own mind and heart can yield powerful impressions. The conversation with yourself is often the most important one you will ever have. Don’t let past failures or limiting thoughts cloud your thinking. You are better than that. Listen for the still, small voice that can whispers and provide insight. Consider recording your thoughts on a pad of paper by your bedside.
(This is my daughter Annie. She has always impressed me as someone who knows who she is.)
Know Who You Are
Knowing who you are reframes one’s sense or vision of what can be. Now stay with me here. Each of us is a valued son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father with purpose and meaning. We are not here by chance or happen stance. As we begin to understand our divine heritage and pre-mortal beginnings, we can better understand our earthly possibilities.
God said to Abraham, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
Just as God knew Abraham before he came into the world, he knew each of us as well. The scriptures are replete with evidence of a premortal world and God’s Plan for Happiness for us. Learn more.
As spiritual beings, we are endowed with God given equipment and therefore a capacity for greatness. Since we are created in His image and likeness, we have the DNA for becoming exceptional beings. With this heritage and our divine agency, we own the ability to choose our own way. This right of choice and the presence of opposition in our lives are powerful elements in our mortal experience.
Lehi counseled his son Jacob, “Wherefore men are free according to the flesh and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, accordingly to the captivity and power of the devil, for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” 2 Nephi 2:27
When we understand who we are, we approach our journey differently. It can change everything. If you don’t feel connected spiritually in your life, I would recommend some adjustments. It can make all the difference.
Know that Success is a Journey
With an increased understanding of your divine heritage you should feel embolden in your ability to achieve your highest aims. Whatever the struggle, challenge or obstacle you face, know that you have the capacity to overcome.
Recognize that success is a journey rather than a destination. I have heard many say, “I’ll be happy when I get married, or buy a home, have a baby or get a raise.” The list can be endless. But this, “I’ll be happy when…” mindset can be dangerous because it discounts the importance of the journey and assigns happiness to some postponed, indeterminate future date. Remember that success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal. What we learn and experience along the way is often more important than the destination itself. Therefore, focusing on “becoming” more than “arriving” is an important ingredient to living a more fulfilled life.
When Susan and I got married over 36 years ago, we adopted a family theme, “Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.” We must put action behind our aspirations. We must go and do! Unfortunately, there is often a gap between knowing and doing on our journey.
We can have a logical sense of our life’s course, but may still feel paralyzed from time to time. This is where faith, as a principle of action, must be exercised along the way. Sometimes we need to step into the darkness before the light appears. This is often easier said than done. Peter had to get out of the boat before the miracle occurred. The children of Israel had to put their feet in the River Jordan first before it would part. Remember, faith proceeds the miracle. Likewise, we need to move forward and trust even if we may not see the end from the beginning.
Know Your Game Plan & Work It
I heard it once said that “Work will win when wishy washy wishing won’t.” Never discount the power of diligence. Moving a compelling “Why” to a tactical “How” is essential for success. Most stop at merely stating what they want and thereby fail to articulate a well-defined plan. You may have heard the adage of SMART goals. It’s a simple acronym packed with wisdom. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, include accountability, be realistic and time based. Building these clarifiers into your game plan will give your dreams wings.
Think of this step as a recipe. What are the important ingredients to make your dream a reality? Great chess players don’t think about the first move, they think of the first, second and third moves because chess is about strategy. Without an effective strategy, you will get frustrated and lose interest by April. This is why most New Year’s Resolutions fail, so focus on building out a tactical plan.
Take this to another level by considering your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Some have called this a S.W.O.T. analysis, but it’s a valuable exercise. Grab a piece of paper and arrange these elements into four equal quadrants. As you consider and evaluate each one your game plan will become stronger.
As you spend time building an effective game plan, you will be amazed how it will propel you forward. Properly developed it can become a detailed action plan to guide you along each day, month and year. Consider an accountability partner and update your progress often. Don’t miss the strategic by-products along the way. More on that in a later post.
Start strong in 2020 with these four great principles!
This may seem like a lot of work, but when you know what you want and are driven by your deepest passions, life becomes an exciting journey. It doesn’t feel like work when you are pulled by your dreams. Remember who you are and your divine heritage. As you follow a meaningful game plan and focus on becoming, you will experience joy. When you get stuck, demonstrate faith in every footstep. After a few months, you will begin to realize you are experiencing a whole new you.
Happy New Year 2020 & beyond!