If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable - Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
Let’s face it, success doesn’t happen by accident, you can’t fluke high achievement and your dreams won’t be fulfilled by random chance. It’s up to you.
Don’t get me wrong, you will get lucky from time to time, hell you might win the lotto tomorrow – the very pinnacle of luck. That would be nice… except that, about 70 percent of people who win a lottery or get a big windfall actually end up broke in a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Because receiving something vs nurturing it and taking care of it are very different things. Anyone can get lucky, but if you don’t have the mindset, knowledge, skill and emotional temperament to handle millions of dollars (or whatever your version of success is), you won’t, you will miss-handle it away. Or worse, it simply won’t ever happen. That’s true of money, that’s true of everything – your career, your relationships, your health, your dreams, your year.
Unless you have a strong intention to be successful, backed up by pragmatic foundations to support that success, the chances are high that it won’t happen, or won’t last.
Sustainable success requires foundations that will support you and provide the right climate for your growth and achievement. In other words, an amazing year requires an amazing set up. 2017 is over, so how are you going to set yourself up for success in 2018?
Here are some of our top life tested recommendations to set yourself up for 2018:
1. Set your Highest Intentions for 2018 over the holiday break.
Set time aside to sit down and consider – what is ultimately important to you? What’s clamouring to be heard deep within you? What are you moved to do and express in the world? These answers can be as grand or as relative as you like, so long as they are real.
You might intend to be financially free, you might intend to self realise, you might intend to leave your career and start what you have always wanted to start. You might simply intend to develop your fitness and health. The only criteria here is that it’s real, it’s emotionally compelling for you, and it’s a priority, not just a preference.
Priority means that you have 2-3 ultimate intentions at the most. Anything more and you are signaling that you aren’t clear on your priorities and are starting to enter the realm of preferences.
How do you know if what you have selected is an emotionally compelling priority? By asking the question – “would I be willing to suffer for this? Suffer the difficulty of what it takes to have it?” If not, it isn’t of ultimate importance to you, it’s just a preference.
Note: at this point you don’t need to know exactly how you are going to achieve your ultimate intentions. You just need to decide on what they are, and let those intentions be your guiding compass point on what to say YES to and what to say NO to i.e. what to focus on and prioritise in your life.
Which brings up the next point…
2. Invest in the mindset and skillset that your highest intentions require.
Knowing what’s of ultimate importance to you is rather useless without having the skills and mindset to make them real in your life. So, if your dreams came true, what skills and mindset would you need to maintain them? If you want them to come true, what skills and mindset will you need to make it so?
Identify the critical priority skills and then ask yourself how are you going to develop those in 2018?
A word of advice from a professional trainer – get professional training. It’s more expensive than trying to figure it out yourself in the short term yes, but in the long run the wasted time, and the consequences of amateurishly training them yourself, are far more expensive.
You don’t need to get professional training for everything – I teach myself to cook and its as amateur as it gets, but that skill isn’t important to me. If the skill matters (and it should if you are doing this exercise right) invest in it. You don’t have forever.
3. If they are not already on your agenda – Add Communication and Interpersonal skills to your list.
We live in an interpersonal, interdependent world. Try as you might, it’s impossible to escape from your fellow human beings. It’s also nigh impossible to get anything significant achieved by yourself. Unless you plan on retiring to the wilderness, building your own cabin with your bare hands and living off the land – your business, your project, your enterprise, your success will inevitably involve customers, suppliers, coworkers, an audience – other people.
We are social beings, and all of our greatest accomplishments as a race have been achieved by working together. Your ability then to work well with others, to capture the hearts and minds of your fellow human beings, to communicate your message and your vision clearly and galvanise others around it – all depends on your interpersonal and communication skills.
These are skills you literally use every day, probably a thousand times a day. Which means even small improvements in these skills will impact your life in a thousand different ways a day. That’s doing a lot with a little – the very definition of mastery.
4. Read in your area of intention religiously.
Read twenty books in a key area (e.g. coaching, leadership, wealth creation etc) and you are going to know all of the knowledge at the leading edge of that field. When knowledge intersects with skill and mindset you have expertise.
Decide which areas of reading is most relevant for your intentions and your circumstances in life right now. Jot down your top three areas, pick one and just go download the top-rated books in that area. Read one area at a time for economies of reading before you moving on. Twenty may seem like a lot but with thirty minutes of reading per day you will have expert knowledge on that subject nailed down by the end of the year. Increase it to an hour of reading and you will be done in less six months maybe less.
5. Join groups that support your intentions. Don’t rely on your own knowledge and motivation.
Let’s be realistic, you aren’t going to be motivated to pursue your goals every single day, and you aren’t going to figure everything out on your own. Your motivation will fail you at some point, and you are probably going to make some super silly totally avoidable mistakes. It’s part of being human. Factor this into your yearly planning by joining some like minded support groups. The more regular the groups get together, the more open and sharing, the more accessible the better. At The Coaching Room we have monthly practice groups where a whole community of people interested in NLP and/or Coaching get together to practice and learn more about the skills. What community can you join?
The point is to be surrounded by like minded people whom you can leverage ideas, inspiration, and be supported in your motivation. Just knowing that there are others walking the same path, tackling the same problems whom you can access regularly will help you stay on track. And just being around like-minded people will keep your intentions focused in the front of your mind because they will constantly be a topic of conversation.
6. Get a mentor/s who embody your intentions and will give you the honest feedback you need.
These can be paid/unpaid realities, and either is fine. I have two people who have mentored me throughout my journey as budding coach to managing partner and I didn’t pay them anything. You probably have some key individuals in your sphere whom you could ask to be mentored by.
Don’t assume you need to offer money for it unless it is a professional set up and they mentor for a living. There are many who want to give back, mentor the next generation, or are simply happily humbled into agreement.
Whether it’s informal unpaid or formal and paid the key variable is finding people whom walk the talk and embody the skills, attitude and capabilities you want to embody and whom can guide you.
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
7. Get a coach who will show you your blind spots and help you make developmental changes to the way you show up in your whole life.
Whoa get a coach AND a mentor!? Aren’t they the same thing?
No, they are very different. A mentor’s job is to guide you to the same learnings, understandings, skills that they have and help you avoid the mistakes they made so you don’t have to trial and error it. In mentoring you are getting the mentors genius.
In coaching you are taking a frank look at the way you think and feel, at your beliefs about yourself and the world, the distortions in your thinking and your blind spots with someone who is trained to help you see, assess and change those things. In coaching you are developing your genius. Coaching is about getting yourself out of the way, and you are 9/10 times your biggest obstacle.
8. Commit to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in very specific areas.
Is public speaking one of the key skills you have identified as part of your Intentions for 2018? Is public speaking a little frightening? If so, good! Sign yourself up to a bunch of speaking gigs – toast masters, company presentations, business breakfasts etc.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into your discomfort zone is one of the most fruitful things you can do. Are you going to be uncomfortable? make mistakes? seem silly? screw up? Yes. That’s the point. The fastest way to make something become part of what’s easy and comfortable for you – is to get experience doing it. Become familiar with it, make it your friend. When the difficult, is easy and comfortable for you, success will be easy and inevitable.
Always aim to be leaning into your discomfort in the key areas that are pivotal for your intentions. You don’t need a coach to do this, but doing it in tandem with a coach will yield incredible results over time.
9. Make your commitments and lock yourself into the most important decisions NOW. Don’t rely on your willpower and good sense being there later when life and the temptation to “do that later” hits.
Over the Christmas period as you take time out to reflect on your year and engage with this exercise for 2018 you are in what I call ‘planning mode’. Probably some combination of reflective, sensible, relaxed and prudent. This is the state from which you will likely make your best decisions. Unfortunately, this is probably NOT the state from which you will consistently execute those decisions. In fact, when the time comes and the rubber hits the road, some of these sensible decisions are going to seem boring, frightening or uncomfortable. When the time comes you might be feeling stressed, anxious or tired. Which means the temptation to say to yourself “I’ll do that later, I just have too much on right now” might be higher than the smart part of you that knows you have procrastinated long enough.
Unless you have an iron will that never fails you, take this reality into your consideration. Make your commitments NOW. Decide, take action, pay the invoice for the program that’s four months from now, lock yourself in and don’t give yourself the chance to sell yourself short when the time comes to do what you know will be a great thing for you.
10. Abandon the notion that triumph and transformation comes from heroic effort.
Heroic efforts are great. But by definition they are the exception, not the norm. Most of the times (and I do mean MOST of the time) it simply comes down to being intentional, setting yourself up with simple, pragmatic, sometimes mundane support structures, and FOLLOWING THROUGH on those decisions.
If you have followed these steps, committed to them, locked yourself in, then you are free to be as heroic or ordinary as you like because you have made the sensible, realistic, sometimes boring but totally healthy decisions that in the long run facilitate consistent growth and achievement.
In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – by following this mini guide to setting yourself up for 2018 engaging in the steps you have just done that. Congratulations, Merry Christmas from all at The Coaching Room and we wish you the very best in the New Year. Hope to see you in The Room.