Here we are at the end of 2014, and while many people will be making New Year's resolution lists it's not a tradition that I will participate in or that I will recommend to my coaching clients. As I wrote in a previous blog Don't Wait For New Year, Start Now! making big life changes involves significant commitment and determination well beyond a half-hearted give-it-a-go New Years resolution.
Working with coaching clients I find that real change normally comes about via two routes; either change is forced on the person for example through redundancy or an unexpected life change, or the person reaches a breaking point whereby a significant change stops being optional and becomes an absolute must. As far as change management is concerned neither of these scenarios is ideal! Realistically any significant change will never be neat and tidy, but the best route to big change is to manage the change as best you can, ideally working with a professional thinking partner to help navigate through the period of change. It's also better to tackle the change when you have more options and choices rather than leaving things until you're forced into making a big change through life circumstances.
So instead of setting arbitrary New Year's resolutions what can you do at the beginning of 2015 to get the year off to the best possible start towards making the big change you really want? Grab a notebook or a laptop and go to a quiet place - a café, a park or a comfortable room in your house to complete these three simple and practical steps:
1. Review 2014
Do an annual audit of 2014 taking time to review your successes, your failures and what you learned in the year. Review 2014 in any way you like, and as a suggestion you may want to include these questions:
- Celebrate your successes! What worked in 2014 and what were your main achievements? Based on your successes in 2014 what more are you capable of in 2015?
- What didn't work for you in 2014? Firstly give yourself a pat on the back for trying, accept that everyone failed at something during the year and know that failing at something is the best way to learn. Write down what you learned. What will you do differently next time?
- What made you happiest and what are you grateful for in 2014?
2. Set a theme for 2015
Write down the one big change you want to make in 2015, you won't need to think this through, you already know deep down what it is. This is the moment to be honest with yourself. In the same way the Chinese assign an animal to each year, give 2015 a theme. It could be the Year of the New Career or the Year of Self-discovery. Make sure you have one priority for the year and that it's crystal clear.
3. Letter From The Future
Write a letter to yourself as if you were writing from the future, one year from now at the end of 2015. Focus on your theme for 2015, be bold, think big and be creative. Describe an ambitious outcome for your year, describe what the successful outcome feels like and the steps you took to create that success throughout the year including the first step you took on the road to success right back at the beginning of 2015. Think laterally and describe in detail the impact this change has had on all areas of your life. Remember, you are writing the letter to yourself from the future. Address the letter to yourself and sign it with your name. You are the only person who will read this letter so don't worry about grammar and writing style. After writing the letter, read it very carefully and make it come alive in your mind's eye. Visualise the things in your letter actually happening. Then put the letter away and begin the year with the first step you described in your letter.
Feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I'd love to hear about anything you learned by taking these steps, and about your theme for 2015. Wishing you much success and happiness in 2015 and a very Happy New Year!