Can I tell you a secret? I love New Year’s Eve.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to the end of the year. There’s something special about the opportunity to start anew. To wipe the proverbial slate clean and decide how you want to spend the next 12 months, and what you’re going to focus on.
We don’t build daydreaming into our schedules. It’s something that often happens when we’re procrastinating or trying to fall asleep, but it’s never a priority. We don’t set aside time to daydream. But when it comes to New Year’s Eve, we can’t help but take that time to dream about what comes next. How can we turn the next year into our “best year ever”?
I’ve been practicing this for years. When I was a teen, the daydream would often involve love interests or clubs I wanted to join or grades I wanted to get. I would think about the next school year or big birthday, and imagine how great that year would be.
As I got older, I started daydreaming about the things I was going to achieve. The certifications I’d earn, the products I was going to build, and the promotions I was going to get. Not to mention I always included the “lose 10 pounds” or “do more yoga” resolution.
And then, when I started my own business, it was about the leaders I was going to coach, the number of engagements I was going to lead, and ultimately the revenue I was going to bring in. Add the man I wanted to meet and the vacations I wanted to take.
This year definitely didn’t line up with my plan for the “best year ever.” I had high hopes when the clock struck 12 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2020, but we know what happened next.
But here we are, we’re standing at the end of 2020, having it made it through. Maybe we didn’t make as much money as we wanted or travel like we’d planned or spend as much time with family and friends. But we’re here—and 2021 is almost here, too.
As we embark on a new year, I encourage you to approach it as two-time Olympic gold medallist Abby Wambach does: with gratitude and ambition. I, too, will use this time to look back on the year that was, and be grateful for the good, and appreciate what I managed to achieve despite the challenges. And I will look towards 2021 with that same green-eyed optimism that has always guided my New Year’s resolutions.
Each year, as I reflect and plan, I use the same four questions to get started:
What impact did I make this year?
Anyone who knows me, knows I love Darren Hardy’s Best Year Ever planning guide. And the reason I do is that he makes you reflect on the year. His list of questions help you look back on your accomplishments and the relationships you’ve impacted. We rarely give ourselves much credit, so I find this practice really bolsters my optimism and reminds me that we are always moving forward and evolving, even if we don’t feel it.
What would your “best year ever” look like?
This is my favourite question to reflect on. Not just survival, not just what a good year would look like, but what would your best year ever in your whole life look like? I love the language in “best year ever.” If you answer it honestly, you have no choice but to re-imagine the world around you and find spots to infuse more fun, more excitement and more connection. I’ve never answered this question with “working more hours” but I almost always answer the question with a long list of more adventures, more risks and more time and connection with those I love.
Where can I improve?
I find this one a little more difficult since it means critiquing your own work. I find it helpful to reflect on things friends or clients have shared in the effort to give constructive criticism. It’s worth reflecting on what went wrong. Figure out if there were certain projects you weren’t happy with or outcomes that could have been improved. Make some notes that can help you make adjustments moving forward. You don’t need to turn everything on its head, but making improvements in an incremental way can add up to big returns over the course of a year.
If next year were my last, what would I prioritize first?
This is the question that always stirs the pot. Years ago, my New Year’s resolutions were a reflection of money, title and weight loss. But with age, comes the understanding that life is short. And each time I ask this question, I notice certain priorities naturally rise to the top. Ironically, the balance in the bank account seems less important. What comes to mind are the memories I want to create, the love I want to give and the legacy I hope to leave behind.
In 2019, it felt important for me to share my voice more instead of hiding behind client engagements and fear of public criticism. (Thanks a lot, imposter syndrome!) I had two “big” items on my list: start a newsletter and launch a podcast—and I’m happy to say, I’ve (almost) done both! The Whipp has now been running since October and my new podcast, Best Boss Ever, is launching in January.
I also set a goal of increasing quality family time. Not just the juggling of the day to day but more laughter and connection with my kids—less enforcing bath time and bedtime and more time getting to know my children and letting them know me. It resulted in a long pre-COVID vacation that was filled with joy, and I found myself seizing more opportunities throughout COVID to make lockdown a gift. Finding days where I let boredom set in and let myself enjoy the hugs, kisses and giggles that life with two little children can bring. I wanted to draw my attention to the quality in quality time, making each holiday count and making normal days feel like new holidays.
And that’s exactly why I love New Year’s resolutions. I’m always shocked by how many come to fruition. I think it all comes down to the law of attraction, hard work and a little bit of luck. By actively thinking about your hopes and dreams, you plant a seed. And as you move through the year, you make decisions (micro or otherwise) that water that seed. And before you know it, you may have a newsletter and a podcast of your own.
So, happy New Year! May your 2021 be everything your 2020 wasn’t.