- December 7, 2020
It’s been one hell of a year, to say the least.
Forgive yourself if you didn’t reach your full potential, start a business, get in amazing shape, or maximize your productivity during a pandemic.
I get it. This has been tough for all of us.
On the one hand, I’m going to let you off the hook. Could you have used this year as an opportunity for major growth and a chance to challenge yourself in the face of adversity? Sure. But, this is the type of year filled with shell-shocking moments that make it understandable if you didn’t.
On the other hand, I’m going to challenge you to be better starting now because the reality of the situation has set it. You’ve had eight months to adjust to current circumstances. Whatever your circumstances happen to be, they’re yours. I can’t change them for you. Nobody can move the needle that much except for you.
So, how do make sure that you have a better year in 2021 than you did in 2020?
First, take a bit of time to reflect on how the year went. Analyze your behaviours, the circumstances you either found yourself in or were forced on you, your mindset, your goals (or lack thereof), your wins, your losses, obstacles, missed opportunities, all of it.
Today might be a good day to take out a journal and just reflect on everything. I’m going to do that myself. Write 3 full morning pages, let the thoughts loose, and see what happens.
After you’ve taken the time to think about how the past year or so has gone, understand that it’s in the past. It’s over. Done with. You’re never going to move onto a better future if you stay trapped in the past. Instead, try to use it.
Re-write your story
You can see the past through a variety of lenses. Often, we use the past as a way to re-live our trauma over and over again, further solidifying an identity we don’t want.
We think about all the times we tried to reach a goal and failed, so we think of ourselves as failures. We define ourselves by our mistakes and glean the wrong lesson from them — the lesson that mistakes make you lesser when they’re ultimately meant to make you better and can if you use them right.
How much time do you spend kicking yourself over the things that happened to you? Things you can’t change? I’ve done it. As good of a year as I’ve had, I still look back and think about all the missed opportunities, the times where I could’ve taken my writing and business to another level and didn’t, the fact that I could’ve done even more to make more of the time I had to experience things when the world opened up for a little bit.
But that’s all over with now. And I invite you to use the same process I use to not just get over, but benefit from the past.
Re-frame it. Re-frame everything that’s happened to you. Not just in 2020, but in your entire life as a whole. To get re-framing to work, you have to do it constantly. You’re going to get into the trap of thinking about your past. You’re going to be riddled with self-doubt. You’ll still feel traumatized from past events.
But you have to fight like hell to try to change what those past stories mean to you. Notice I said stories. You look at the past events in your life as statements of fact. You cement the emotion those events made you feel and turn them into reality when they don’t have to be. The narrative you use drives everything you do in your life. If you want to change your life, change your narrative.
Change your narrative by re-framing:
- Events don’t happen to you, they happen for you – You won’t feel this way in the moment when certain events happen to you, but learning to see all events as useful to you, even if they’re bad, will train you to focus on growth instead of ruminating
- Closed doors equal open windows – Even if it’s not objectively true, take rejection and opportunities that didn’t go your way as a sign that you were meant for something different, something better.
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – You’re still here, right? This point is a bit of a combination of the first two points. You want to take everything that happens to you and use it as a source of fuel. You don’t want a perfect life with no challenges, no obstacles, no sadness, no anger, no frustration. People miss the fact that the dark side of life gives life its flavor. You want the high highs and the low lows.
After you take enough time to get over 2020, and your past as a whole, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.
How to make 2021 the best year of your life
Steven Covey coined the phrase ‘begin with the end in mind’ in his best selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
If you want something to happen, you have to start with what you want to happen and reverse engineer to the present moment to get there. You have to see yourself winning before you actually win and trust the process along the way. Not exactly knowing ‘how’ you’re going to get there.
Five years ago, I saw myself becoming a professional writer who made a full-time living, had financial flexibility, and millions of people who read my work.
I became obsessed with that end. I looked at every step I took as a means to that end. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it. I knew I had to get good at writing, learn marketing, and build an audience somehow. I always had that goal in the back of my mind and it drove everything I did.
So, begin with the end in mind, right now.
What would have to happen for you to feel like 2021 was a major win?
Imagine yourself a year from now, what has to change for you to be that person?
Maybe you don’t know what you want and the version of you at the end of 2021 does know. Well, your goal should be to finally figure out what the hell you want to do with your life.
Maybe you know what you want but haven’t taken the steps to do it. Picture yourself at the end of 2021 reaching the benchmark you need to reach to feel like you’re making progress. You’re in shape, you have the business up and running, your network has grown, your marriage has improved, whatever matters to you most.
Picture it. Journal about it too. Whatever you have to do to cement that image in your mind.
Yes, of course, you’ll have to still do the work. I don’t believe that you can just tap into the secret and manifest what you want out of thin air. But, picturing what you want to happen before you start will point you in the right direction.
When you’re primed to see opportunities, they’ll find you
So, you’ve pictured how you want next year to end but you don’t exactly know how the hell you’re going to do it. That’s okay because you’re now primed to see those opportunities ahead of you.
When you don’t have any intention to the way you’re living, opportunities will fly right by you without you noticing them. But when you’re intentionally trying to improve your life and you picture the things you want to happen, the universe will help you.
I used to look at many of the things that happened on my path to building my career as chance events. Now? I realize that, while there was an element of chance, I increased my odds of seizing these opportunities because I knew what I wanted.
When I started to take writing seriously, all of a sudden I’d notice all these different platforms to write on. One day, I discovered Medium because I saw someone Tweet about it. Sure, it was a random tweet that led me to the website that would build the foundation for my career, but I was ready to step into that opportunity.
The same thing will happen for you too when you get serious — when you begin the with the end in mind and work backwards.
“But how do I get started? How do I figure out what I want? How do I get motivated?” Yada, yada, yada.
You just do.
You just start giving a damn about yourself, start caring about yourself, start putting yourself first for once in your life instead of letting the world and everyone in it beat up on you.
I have no magic recipe for trying to get you to understand that life is fleeting, so fleeting that you shouldn’t spend the rest of your life terrified to live. You can come to that understanding. Hell, you can come to it after trying and failing to come to it over and over again.
It happened to me. One day I put my foot down and decided I was going to make it happen and I did.
Decide, right now, that 2021 is going to be your year. Who cares if you’ve done this 10 years straight? Do it again. Mean it this time.
Get all worked up and excited about the future. Then make the future unfold through your actions.
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