Embracing the Challenges of the New Year
New Year is often a time of renewed ambition, possibility and hope. This year, in the midst of a rejuvenated Covid crisis, it might be difficult to feel any motivation at all. The next month or two are undoubtedly going to be very tough but somehow, we have to embrace this strange new year and get what we can from it.
One thing that is certain about 2021 is that we have no idea what it has in store for us! Whilst at the start of 2020, we had no idea what was about to hit us, at least this January we know that it is going to be an incredibly unpredictable year of massive ups and downs. The way I’m flipping this into a positive is by using it as an opportunity to take the pressure off results. There is simply no point making resolutions or goals based around outcomes because there are so many external factors that could derail you at any moment.
Instead, this is the time to focus on process and let outcomes take care of themselves. By this I mean, make resolutions based on actions rather than results. So, instead of “I’m going to get x number of new clients”, think “I’m going to reach out to more people”. Instead of “I’m going to finish my novel”, think “I’m going to write something every day”. Instead of, “I’m going to reach my target weight”, think “I’m going to run three times a week”. Focus on the process of doing, not the end result. This process-focussed approach is so much healthier! Results are out of our control, but actions are things we can do. This is the mindset adopted by almost all elite athletes. Get the process right and the results will take care of themselves.
This same focus on the ‘controllables’ has to be at the heart of our approach to 2021. This is an opportunity to focus on self-development and personal growth unlike any you are likely to have again. Focus on what you can do and congratulate yourself for every little thing that you achieve. Every time you sit down to write, send that email, read that book, go for that run, these are all reasons to celebrate at the moment. They may feel like little things, but it is the accumulation of these small acts that will lead to a successful year. Just focus on one controllable at a time.
The other thing that is in your control is knowing when to stop and take a break. Many of us have been working flat out for a long time, under intense stress and against a backdrop of massive uncertainty. It is important to recognise when taking a break is completely legitimate and healthy - where a break will help you come back stronger and more productive. More time working does not equal more results. So, slogging away at your desk for hours on end isn’t necessarily the answer. Watching a film, doing some exercise, phoning your Mum are all acts that might make you more productive. They might just shift your perspective and make you think about a problem differently. Again, it is remembering that the little things are important and build towards something much larger. These little things are the foundations of your well-being. Look after these and the rest will take care of itself.
Once we accept that these next few months, and possibly this entire year, are going to be challenging, it is actually quite freeing. It means every step we take is an achievement to be celebrated. Every day we get out of bed and go for a walk is an achievement. Embrace this. Be grateful for what you do have and focus on what you can do. The rest will take care of itself.