The Internet and media are filled with the annual chatter about New Year’s Resolutions, strategic planning, and goal setting. There are Best and Worst Lists for anything and everything.

As much as I’m looking forward to a fresh new year, I’d like to suggest a different approach for launching it.

We know from studies that resolutions don’t work very well. Who needs to start the year feeling guilty because they abandoned those lofty intentions?

Instead of tricking yourself with short-lived resolutions and dreary goals, take the long view. Embark on the new year with gusto by taking a creative, active approach.

Go wild and design 2012 and beyond on paper (not on your computer). Go really wild and get a new journal that will hold your ideas, dreams, and ambitions.

Lay the foundation for a brighter future by devoting a page or two to the topics I’m suggesting, along with others that are reflections of your personal values.

Challenge yourself to create Top Ten Lists (or whatever number you fancy) for the following categories:

Lessons Learned ~ I once heard Cher say that her greatest fear was not living as well as she knew how to live. It’s easy to forget our own wisdom sometimes, but a year end review can help.

That’s a wonderful ritual to implement. Consider what worked, what didn’t, what brought you joy, mistakes you won’t repeat.

People That Matter ~  I  once wrote an article for Winning Ways newsletter about a fantasy train trip that included people I love and people I’d love to meet.

Just thinking about who I’d want along for the ride was a terrific exercise. Give thought to the people who enrich your life and find ways to connect often.

Books to Devour ~ Psychologist Eda LaShan said middle age begins the moment you realize you won’t live long enough to read all the books you want to read. I’m pretty sure I was born middle-aged.

Having a designated spot to write down titles of books that sound intriguing means you’ll have a running list of suggestions when you need them.

Being Goals ~ Although the focus of goal-setting is often on things we want to acquire, there are three different areas to consider.

Besides the obvious Having Goals, there are also Being Goals and Doing Goals. Of these, the most important (and challenging) are the Being Goals.

I’d suggest that if you focus on the person you want to be, the having and doing takes care of itself.

Do More, Do Less ~ Too often when we decide to add a new activity or behavior, we fail to make room for it.

Several years ago on New Year’s Eve, a local tv reporter was interviewing folks on the street asking them about their resolutions. After hearing the usual, “Lose 10 pounds, save more money,” stuff, he interviewed a woman who confidently said, “I plan to walk more and smoke less.”

As soon as I heard that, I thought, “She’s the one who will make it.” I could imagine that every time she was tempted to smoke, she’d put on her walking shoes instead.

This is another wonderfully powerful exercise for sorting things out and focusing on what matters most.

Things to Discard, Abandon ~ Related to the previous tip, getting rid of clutter of every sort is also essential for living a rich, fascinating life.

If your life is filled with things, activities and people that don’t fit the 2012 version of you, it’s time to let go and move on.

Explorations & Adventures ~ The key to having an adventurous life is to have an adventurous imagination backed up by action.

In Making a Living Without a Job, I told the story about my years of failure in finding a way to travel. At the beginning, I had a specific destination in mind and started getting ready to go long before I knew how it would happen.

What places and experiences do you long to visit? Write ’em down.

90 Day Projects ~ Barbara Sher talks about making a temporary permanent commitment. This is a way to do just that and test drive your ideas.

Divide the year into quarters and have a special focus for each. Give yourself 90 days to focus on a couple of high priorities. Immerse, don’t dabble.

At the end of that time period, evaluate. This is the time to decide if you want to continue or move on to other things.

$100 Hour Ideas to Implement ~ If you’re familiar with this concept, you know that I encourage you to start a running list of ideas that you can turn into income. (Disclosure: the popular term for this is monetize. That word makes me shiver.)

This one is a genuine momentum builder and belongs in your portfolio.


4 Responses to “9 Ways to Get Your New Year Off to a Great Start”

  1. Scarlette

    Babs, I LOVE this. I am going to print it and put it in a journal and call it “Lovely Things to do with the Rest of my Life” Thank you. I was feeling a little gloomy and sorry for myself. Oh, the possibilities.

  2. Barbara Winter

    Oh, Scarlette, I was catching up on my diary today and noticed I’d written this a couple of years ago and sent it out in my ezine. Since I’ve been under the weather, I haven’t felt very creative so tracked it down and decided to post it here. Obviously, it was a gift to you! I’m delighted.

  3. Jen

    I have to agree with Scarlette, this was a great post. Thanks for re-posting it Barbara. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing any time of the year. Hope you’re feeling better.

  4. Larry

    Barbara, this is awesome. Super ideas!
    I’d get right on them but I’m still working (happily, and very excitedly I might add) on your suggestions from last Thursday’s post! I’m a visual kind of person – those suggestions are tremendous.
    Your last two posts of yours are like a Christmas feast of incredibly rich and nutritious food I can’t eat all at a sitting but I know the faster I eat them – and digest them! – the better off I’ll be.
    Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas Barbara – I hope you get feeling better soon.

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