We are just a few breaths away from the finale of 2017 and the arrival of 2018, so I thought that I would end the year on a pleasant note, with a list of some of the most useful insights for work and life.
At the beginning of last year, I decided to make some changes with the hope that major life changes would take place in the year 2017. I changed location (moved from England to Cyprus), I changed job but most importantly I changed my way of thinking. I found that above all changes, it was the changes in my way of thinking that resulted to a highly productive and adventurous year, a year which quite possibly was one of the most critical and constructive years I’ve experienced so far. I changed 3 jobs within the year, I made a dozen of good new friends, I gained valuable experiences both in my professional and personal life and I learned so much about myself I didn’t know! I identified and accepted a lot of realities about myself (which was a hard, long and on-going process), I worked A LOT (in-fact just in the month of October I worked a total of 312 hours – long story don’t ask), I worked on my self-belief and self-confidence and made sure that I gave my all in everything I did. The result was clear… I changed my way of thinking and it changed my life!
So here is my list of all the ten ‘styles’ and ways of thinking I tried and will continue trying to ‘adopt’ in the new year. I hope they also help you change your mind frame and quite possibly help you ‘change your game’ in the year 2018.
1. Focus on what you control, and let the rest go
First of all, it is important to understand that you are only human and that you cannot control everything around you. You are not Superman (or Supergirl) and you can only do your very best! The rest is out of your control.
In 2018 you have one resolution, and that is to give your best where you’ve got your best to give and make the most of what you’ve got. ‘Don’t think about the results, just focus on the approach’, should be your motto. The rest will come naturally and at its own time.
In other words, if you were a total control freak in 2017, then it’s time to change. You’re only human after all, and there are certain things that you will never be able to control. Perhaps try replacing the word control and replacing it with ‘monitor’. Monitor your attitude, your actions, your responses. Think twice before you take things personally or try to get involved with matters that will just leave you running around in circles and super drained. It is unavoidable to come across a rude cashier at the supermarket or a terrible driver in front of you at the traffic lights, but do you really want to get involved in an argument with them? Will you tell them how rude or inconsiderate they are change anything? Most probably, no. Monitor your thoughts and encourage yourself to stay cool by taking a step back and keeping a distance. Go through your day by remaining as calm as possible, taking steady steps and valuing your energy.
2. Try something new for 30 days
Seriously, if I hear this ‘new year, new me’ nonsense again, I may just punch myself in the eye. I find it funny when people expect to just wake up on January 1st, with a whole new personality. Changes take time and a lot of effort, they definitely don’t just happen overnight.
I found that by trying to do something consistently (which means EVERY DAY) for a minimum of four weeks, then perhaps will lead you to a ‘new you’. Now, four weeks (28 days to be more precise) is hard work! But if you truly want to grow your capabilities, learn something new, change a habit or adopt a new one, then you have to go on trial.
3. Be honest, be truthful
For me, this is one of the most obvious but most critical points I wanted to make. If you want to lead a successful life in 2018, then you have to know exactly what you want from life and how you have to do things to get the things you want.
If you are a very busy person running a busy life, then time is highly valuable to you. It is important that you are known for your honesty and your uprightness among your colleagues, co-workers, friends, family. This means that you must speak what you want and sometimes even speak what you think.
Be honest with the people around, you in order to be truthful to yourself. If you need something – ask for it, if you have made a mistake – apologise, if you have been wronged – bring it up, if you need to clarify something – make it clear! You have a voice and you are expected to use it. Don’t play silly guessing games or assume things that may not be the case. Believe me when I say that honesty saves everyone’s time. Of course, remember to always be polite at the same time. The truth is sometimes painful, so you have to be clever about how you articulate things and remember that words are very powerful.
4. Try and fail, but don’t fail to try
Try! What a simple word and how much weight it carries. Nothing worth having comes easy, so you have to keep trying. Whatever it is you want from life, you must be prepared to put the work in. You have to keep the vision, day in and day out. Even the slightest effort can take you a long way.
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Also known as the Pareto Principle, the rule explains that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. So, if you think about it you have more to gain than to lose. Try it!
5. It’s energy management, not time management
Energy is all around us and it comes in different forms. When talking about the energy in people, I’m sure you’ve heard about how certain people radiate positive energy and others negative energy.
What makes one’s energy is a combination of things. It can be a person’s past, their mindset, their dominant thoughts, and beliefs and their perception of the world. Energy as its polarity (opposites) which means it can swing like a pendulum from side to side. We’ve all experienced different types of energies for different types of reasons, but at the end of the day, we are mainly responsible for our own energies. It is said that people who manage their energy get more things done with less effort.
In The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz teach us that energy management, not time management, is the key to sustainable high performance, as well as to health, happiness, and life balance.
6. The journey is the destination
We are so often caught up in our destination, that we forget to appreciate our journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way. You must remember to enjoy the journey, to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the scenery along the way. For all you know, that thing that you are looking for is right in front of you and you just can’t see it. Sometimes the journey is all we’ve got so perhaps this year, we should all try to have more fun and forget where we’ve been or where we want to go for a while.
7. Lose Balance
Yes, you read it right, I said lose. One of my favourite quotes is that of Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote the book ‘Eat, pray, love’. She says that “to lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.” Sometimes life gets messy, terrible things happen, and order and harmony are messed up big time. Expect this! It’s normal! Life is a balance between rest and movement, so remind yourself that sometimes you need to slow down or even stop whatever you’re doing completely. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing. Besides, how else are you going to tick of point 7 (above) if you’re too busy focusing on maintaining a Balance all the time?
8. Avoid ‘Learned Helplessness’ – Don’t make it permanent, personal, or pervasive
When something goes wrong, you must be careful how you explain it to yourself. More specifically, we should avoid reaching any permanent conclusions and we should try not to take things personally. For example, phrases like ‘I’ll never be good at this’, ‘Why always me?’ or ‘Why does everything I try go wrong?’ should be banned from our life. We need to learn how to find the positive in negative situations and convince ourselves that we can ONLY BENEFIT from remaining optimistic even in the toughest of times.
In Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman teaches us that one of the most important things we can do in life is have a healthy “explanatory style.” He explains that we can achieve this by recognizing that we and our situations change all the time, therefore we cannot expect or even try to reach permanent negative conclusions. So, this year, try not to interpret all the bad stuff negatively, with destructive and depressing views like ‘This is the worst day of my life’ and ‘I’m just doomed for life’ and teach yourself to shake things off.
9. ‘Choose-To’ over ‘Have-To’. Don’t say you ‘have to’.
In 2017, I tried really hard to change the way I looked at things. I started to view exercising at the gym as something that I honestly wanted to do; I chose to wake up earlier every day, so I could enjoy stress-free mornings; I went to work every day reminding myself of all the benefits my jobs would bring.
Even if it is something small and simple you do every day, make it a choice. Make it your choice! A little choice goes a long way so choose away. By choosing to do things, you’ll find you enjoy them more, and you’ll be less of a victim and more empowered throughout your life.
10. Don’t wait for inspiration, become it” — Action.. then motivation!
‘Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect’, is a quote that summarises how important it is that we take action in order to move further to our goals. In 2018, ‘waiting for inspiration is not an option’.
David Burns explains in his book Feeling Good, that it’s not the miles of intention we have but the inches of movement we make that will increase motivation and bring us closer to our goals.
So remember, keep working. Don’t wait for inspiration. Work inspires inspiration. Keep working!
I totally get that all of these are easier said than done, but you know, if you simply try, there is a big chance that they will work for you. Even better, they might lead you to new aspects of your personality and guide you towards reaching your own conclusions about life. They may inspire you to discover ways to tackle your obstacles and show you that YOU can guide your mind and soul towards the destination YOU want, instead of letting your mind guide you!
Good luck and have an amazing New Year!