The End of One Year, the Start of Another

The End of One Year, the Start of Another

Somehow, it’s already December, which means that it’s time to close the chapter of 2017 and look ahead to 2018. Perhaps you review the past 12 months and celebrate your accomplishments. Maybe you think about what you’ll do differently next year. Or, were there things you hoped to do this year, but never got around to doing?

While many people enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, history tells us that these often don’t have long-term success. This is because there’s a lot of pressure around them. What experts say is that it’s better to have systems in place to support changes so they can be sustained and maintained.

The end of the year is a perfect time to take stock, and this can be done in many ways. It can be about “stuff”—your material possessions in your closets, bedrooms, kitchens, garages, attics, and, for some of you, storage units! It can be about “mindset”—are you in place (job-wise, relationship-wise, emotionally, spiritually, or physically) that is engaging, motivating, supportive, and enabling you to grow and thrive? Are there other aspects of your life where you feel stuck? Perhaps today is the time to make a plan and put it into action.

Dealing with Physical Stuff

You may have heard about Marie Kondo and her method of decluttering and getting rid of, well, stuff. The short version is that when you hold something up (such as a piece of clothing), if it doesn’t “spark joy” then you should discard it. This is great if you’re a minimalist, but it’s pretty extreme! For an amusing visual representation of this, if you’re a “Gilmore Girls” fan, in the Netflix reboot that came out last year, there’s a great scene of Emily discarding expensive antiques because they weren’t “sparking joy” for her.

There are also real limitations when it comes to having stuff: Do you have the space for it? Are you aware of everything you have on hand? One of the bonuses of paring down now, while it’s still 2017, is that you can often get tax deductions depending on where and what you’re donating (if you go that route). There are many places that would welcome donations. If you have items that are valuable, there are other avenues out there (like eBay, Craigslist, or consignment shops) to sell them. This also is a way to convert items you have around into cash. You’d be surprised how cathartic it can feel to jettison things that are cluttering up your life!

Dealing with Head Stuff

We all have lists of things swirling around in our heads. They can be grocery lists, to-do lists, a list of people you want to reconnect with, or reminders for yourself to do when you get home. As you think about how 2017 was for you, you’re likely considering what you want to leave in 2017, and what you want to take forward into 2018. Perhaps you want to focus on some personal development to enrich yourself that you didn’t have time for this year. Maybe you held on to some negativity (or some relationships that were negative) in 2017, and you want to leave that behind.

Okay, sounds easy enough. Or is it? Then I considered how executive coaches get their clients to work on things. According to the International Coach Federation, who credentials executive coaches, one of the best ways to work on something is by setting an action plan.

Set an Action Plan

What can you commit to doing in the next 7- or 10-day period? If you want to work on professional development for yourself, perhaps you’ll commit to researching your company’s tuition program (if any) and the websites of three schools that have programs you’re interested in. If you want to work on getting rid of physical stuff, then commit to spending 30 minutes on three different days over the course of the next week.

The action plans don’t have to be massive (e.g., “I’m going to go through every closet this weekend!”). Even incremental progress is a positive step. Another tip executive coaches use is get their clients to have an accountability piece. This could be letting someone know you’ve completed the action by the due date. Having a buddy to help you yields positive results! Perhaps there’s a friend or family member you can partner with, and you can help each other.

Dealing with Technology

Much has been written recently about how technology is in our lives from the time our feet find the floor in the morning to when our heads hit the pillow at night. With a 24/7 news cycle, there is always something to look at on our phones. Articles on the web and in all the magazines trumpet the value of doing a “digital detox” and unplugging from our devices.

One thing I’ve seen first-hand is the inability of some of folks to carry on a successful face-to-face conversation. I bet I’m not alone when I say it’s not uncommon to be out at a restaurant and see members of a family all on their smartphones or game devices, and no actual conversation is taking place.

Here’s something I’m going to commit to for 2018, and perhaps you’ll consider joining me: I commit to reducing the amount of time I spend on my devices and increasing the amount of time I engage in real, authentic, and meaningful conversations, especially with those that are important to me. Here’s an action item for us all: Put your phone away before sitting down to a meal with the people who mean the most to you. That sounds like a great way to set yourself up for success in 2018.

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