There’s nothing like the imminent strike of the clock at midnight on December 31 to get us thinking about the fresh year ahead. A new year can feel like a reset button, but sometimes we set goals that are too big, too vague, or just aren’t right for us… and end up breaking them early on. But instead of feeling bad about ourselves and giving up on the year ahead, that’s when we need to regroup, recharge, and hit that reset button one more time.
How often do you hear someone say, "Someday I will..." or "When I have time, I’ll get around to..."? Too frequently. Life is happening right now; not in a year or five, not when we find our dream apartment, not when we find "the one," or start earning six figures.
But we spend so much time living in a dream of the future. We believe that magically, we’ll have endless hours in the day, pots of cash at our disposal, and finally receive that confidence injection someone forgot to vaccinate us with… could it just come with the flu shot, please?
Whether you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution or just feel it’s time to find ways to change your life for the better, here are some thought-provoking prompts that will get you started on your dream life path, pronto:
1. What is something you say you’ll get around to "one day"?
Whether you want to write a novel, visit the Greek islands, sign up for improv classes, invest in a matchmaker, or start yoga teacher training, the best way to do it is to do it, and the best time to start is now. Yes, now. Go ahead and start the Google search. I’ll wait.
2. What has weighed on you for the last year?
Do you feel a pang of sadness over a friendship you let die? Do you have heart palpitations every time you check your AMEX bill? ($270 in Zara? Impossible!) Do you hate how you fear speaking up in meetings, so you stay silent even when you have something to contribute? Does your weight make you self-conscious?
Write a list of how these issues could be improved; this will become the basis of an action plan for change. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, and make sure each line is proactive, specific, and motivational. For example:
"I can set up my bank account to automatically save 20 percent of my paycheck every month," is a clearly defined answer to a problem. "Stop spending money like an idiot," while it addresses the same concern, is too vague to actually be helpful.
Similarly, "I can cook 2-3 healthy dinners on a Sunday night that will keep for the week," is much better than "Ditch the Chinese food every week that makes me feel terrible."
3. Ask yourself, "What does an ideal version of me look like?"
Visualization is a phenomenal tool. How does the best version of you appear when you close your eyes? How do you look, sound, feel? Where are you? What are you doing? Doing this for even 15 minutes can unlock your innermost desires.
A client of mine did this last year and ended up leaving her city apartment for a house on the beach! It’s what she secretly wanted all along, but let "practicality" rule her decision making and keep her stuck in a place where she was unhappy. She now works remotely, commutes to the city once or twice a week, and loves it.
4. What is something you definitely do not need to do?
The normal question is, "What is something you definitely need to do?" But when I have a client who truly struggles to commit to a goal, I flip it—this leads to a fun and often eye-opening exercise. If you still don’t know what you’d most like to work on this year, think:
What do I definitely not need to do?
Here are some answers I’ve heard (that have given my clients and me a good chuckle):
"Work more!" —a self-proclaimed workaholic
"Drink more!" —a party animal
"Sleep less." —an exhausted working mom
"Eat a Snickers for breakfast" —a college grad focused on getting fit
"Worry more frequently" —a chronic overthinker
What comes up for you with this question?
Well, my friend, whether you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolutions or not, 2017 is your year. This is your year not because you hope you’ll get engaged, that promotion feels imminent, or because you’ll finally hit that travel savings goal.
This is your year because this is your life! How will you truly seize this moment and make it the best year ever? What are the risks you’ll take and the goals you’ll set? The outcome is entirely up to you.
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!