It's that time of year where millions of people will be vowing to do things differently. Make this year a better year than last year. Make this new year the time that they get it all together. The new year is frequently seen as a new beginning for many. The chance to start over. The passing of one year to another seems like a great time to start over.
Not only are we heading into a new year though, but we are also heading into a new decade. The 20's. It feels like a good time to plan out not just the next year, but the next few years, even the next decade if you're brave and dedicated enough. Maybe it's the familiarity of the years all sharing the same first three digits that makes it easier to digest and track.
And I can get on board with that thought. The chance to start over. A time to reboot.
The question remains, though, what are you going to do to make this year better?
New year resolutions seem like a good thing to do, but they rarely get followed through. We start with the best intentions of going to the gym, losing weight, finding that new job and before you know it, it's January, and those resolutions seem like a distant memory.
I'm not saying you shouldn't set yourself some goals. By all means, set yourself a goal. Instead of making it a grand statement, though, make it a small goal for the next week. A goal to get you started. Just one goal to reach the end of this or next week. And then you can do it over again with another goal just before the end of January. If you've reached the end of January and reached a few goals, then you'll be doing better than most.
My goal for this week is to write this post you're reading, proof-read it and then revise it a couple of times and finally schedule it to be posted in a few days. Next week, I've planned in a goal of shipping a few changes to my bookmarking app. I'm starting small, so small it might almost be seen as merely a task that I need to do. It's a goal as well, though, a goal that I can comfortably reach, but as the year goes on, I'm going to stretch these goals and make them longer to achieve. I might not hit these later goals, but I'll have a better chance of reaching them having warmed up on a few smaller goals to begin the year with.
So why am I telling you this?
Well, another thing I am doing this year is something that Chris Brogan and Nicholas Bate recommend. Their strategies differ in size, but the idea is still the same. For Chris Brogan, he picks three words at the start of the year that helps him focus his decisions and actions for that year. The values and ideals that he wants to work by. Nicholas Bate has a similar strategy, but his word strategy for the year is to pick a single word.
I've been using Chris Brogan's method for a few years, but a couple of years ago, I switched to just using Nicholas Bate's approach of a single word. Last year, I didn't pick a word. This year, I'm picking a word, and that word is change.
The reason I picked the word change is that while there has been a lot of change in my life over the last two years and most of it not necessarily for the better, there are aspects of my life that I want to change back. Back to where I was a few years ago.
A few years ago, I was a self-employed freelancer. It lasted for about six years. I enjoyed the work immensely, and I was able also to pick and choose my hours which gave me more free time with my family. After a while, though, I found it difficult to get remote work, and I started looking for full-time employment. Now I'm looking to move back to being self-employed. Not necessarily as a freelancer, but definitely being self-employed. This will involve a considerable amount of change.
Change the way I plan my month, week and day. Change the way I use my time on my commute. Change the way I use my time at night. Change the way I tackle work I'm not familiar with. Change the way I read books. Change the books that I read. Change how I network as a professional.
It's a lot to change, and that's not even half the things that I'll end up changing.
Let's go back to not setting new year's resolutions and instead of setting some small, achievable goals for the first few weeks of the year. It might seem like easy pickings, but that's precisely why I'm suggesting it. Smaller, achievable goals can give you that sense of confidence. When you achieve them, you'll move onto something more significant. I'm doing this to start the year with something reachable. This is my first change of the year.
With my focus on this single word though, I'm hoping that the constant of having this word in front of me means that I'll be more focused on it and that it will help guide my decisions and actions.
The word change doesn't just affect me as an individual, though. It's a word that can affect my external area of influence as well.
As a husband and dad, I want to change the quality of time I have with my family by being more present with them and instead of telling my kids what to do, show them instead.
As a software developer, I want to change the type of work that I do. Full-time employment is okay, but I'm looking for something more. Freelancing? Perhaps, but definitely something along the lines of a company of one.
As a citizen of this planet, I want to reduce my carbon footprint on this planet. I'm already aware of the impact that I have on the earth. There's more that I could be doing to help.
There's no guarantee this strategy is going to work, but one thing I will say is that I've never been so determined to make one thing work. If I get to the end of the year with just one substantial change in place, I'll be happy. The rest I know will follow in time.