What are you envisioning for the year ahead? Are there changes you would like to make? Do you have some goals in mind, some New Year’s resolutions? Or, maybe the past 12 months were difficult for you, and you’re just hoping the next year will be better than the one you're saying good-bye to.
Whatever your vision is for the new year, you want the year ahead to be a successful one. There are bound to be events you won’t have control over, but you can still influence your circumstances through the choices you make. Your choices matter, and better choices will lead to better outcomes.
Here are five choices you can make in the new year that are guaranteed to set you up for success.
Choice #1: instead of reacting to circumstances, choose to respond with thoughtfulness and awareness.
You’re constantly receiving input from the world around you, and you’re constantly reacting to this input. Many of these reactions are largely automatic, based on past experiences. While this is incredibly helpful in some situations, there are other times when it’s not so helpful.
Imagine if, rather than reacting, you choose to engage with thoughtfulness and awareness. You take time to think about the impact your words or actions will have. Or, you take a moment to notice the anger, frustration, agitation, or anxiety that you’re experiencing, and you recognize how this is colouring your perception. As a result, you’re able to make a conscious decision to pause and collect yourself.
Choosing to respond with thoughtfulness and awareness, instead of simply reacting, will help you avoid saying or doing something you later regret.
Choice #2: instead of making assumptions about people, choose to keep an open mind and ask questions.
How many times have you made assumptions about someone’s motives and intentions? This often happens when people don’t meet your unspoken expectations for how they should behave. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when you’re feeling hurt, offended, or disappointed. Before long, you’re attributing malicious intent to someone’s words, or ill will to their gestures, without any real evidence to support this.
Of course, there will be times when you know exactly who or what you’re dealing with, and your assumptions will be bang-on. Conversely, there may be occasions where precisely because you don’t know who or what you’re dealing with, it makes sense for you to trust your gut and make assumptions as a matter of safety.
But in healthy, safe situations where you’re navigating relationships with people you trust, choose to keep an open mind and ask questions. For example, if your loyal friend who always has your back says something out of the blue that rubs you the wrong way, hold off from making any assumptions. Instead, make the choice to gather more information. Try asking, “What makes you say that?” or, “I don’t fully understand, can you clarify what you mean?”
You may find that what you were ready to assume, and what the person meant, are entirely different.
Choice #3: instead of doing all the talking in conversations, choose to listen more.
Under the right circumstances, everyone has something interesting and valuable to offer. If you tend to do most of the talking in conversations, you may be missing out on opportunities to receive the knowledge, wisdom, and insight others have to share.
Instead of doing all the talking, choose to listen more. Take a genuine interest in other people and what they have to share. Let someone else have the floor and give them your full attention. You’ll be surprised at how much people open up, how much you learn, how enriched you are in the process, and how much closer you feel to the person you listened to.
Choice #4: instead of getting down on yourself for your imperfections, choose to accept yourself as you are.
Striving to be your best doesn’t mean aiming for perfection. Perfection isn’t a reasonable target for anyone, given that everyone is imperfect, and aiming for it only leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety.
As you work towards becoming your best self, it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective so you don’t place undue pressure on yourself. Instead of getting down on yourself for your imperfections, choose to accept yourself in the here and now, just as you are, with all your imperfections.
When you have this kind of healthy perspective, you naturally feel better about yourself. Your confidence grows, so you’re more likely to be successful when you do work on making desired changes.
Choice #5: instead of becoming impatient when things don’t work out right away, choose to give yourself time for things to come together.
From tying shoelaces to riding a bike, we don’t expect children to master anything right away.
We expect them to be awkward and clumsy at first. We accept that practice is required. Things eventually fall into place, and the day comes when the child can tie a knot or ride a bike without training wheels.
As adults, we don’t like situations that make us feel awkward and clumsy. We become self-conscious; we want to get back to a place where we feel competent and secure. But growth often requires venturing into new and unfamiliar territory. And yes, that can mean a bit of awkwardness and clumsiness as you spend time figuring things out.
Instead of becoming impatient when things don’t work out immediately, be reasonable in your expectations and offer yourself some grace. It takes time to learn something new at any age, whether it’s a new skill on the job, a new behaviour in a relationship, or a new attitude towards life. It may feel awkward at first, and you may feel a little bit clumsy. That’s okay; choose to give yourself time for things to come together.
Conclusion: while the five choices listed aren’t difficult, they do require a conscious effort. However, the effort is well worth it. Make these choices consistently and you’ll experience greater success across all areas of your life.
Tips for achieving optimal wellness, inside and out.