There is something about the year coming to an end that forces you to reflect on your life. It is a contradiction of sort. On one hand, you are excited about all the activities and events that are coming up, and on the other hand, you have sober moments when you think of all the things you have or have not done or achieved during the year.
People handle these reflections in different ways; some ignore their feelings and continue the jolly ride, some feel guilty and let guilt overwhelm them, whilst another set of people see it as a challenge to do something and make plans to change things.
I hope you fall in the third category of people and if you do, change would happen when you decide to form new habits. Like G. Stanley Hall said, ‘Man is a creature of habit’. This means that to make progress, you have to form a different set of habits that would become part of your routine and propel you forward.
I have experienced a good amount of progress this year and I would like to share with you the 5 habits that have propelled me forward:
A goal is something you want to achieve and are willing to do what is needed to achieve it. Like the quote from Napoleon Hill: ‘A goal is a dream with a deadline’. The process of setting goals forces you to think about what you want and come up with a plan to achieve it. I was challenged to take goal setting more seriously when I read this quote from Thomas Carlyle ‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder’. To bring it home, it is like boarding a bus that has no destination. You might end up in the middle of nowhere or end up somewhere you don’t want to be. So if you don’t like where you are right now, why don’t you set a goal about where you want to be and start working towards it?
This is the process of seeing what you want in your mind repeatedly. It could also be a process of representing what you want with images. For example if you set a goal to save ‘X amount’ in one year, you can create a visual representation by creating a ‘dummy’ bank statement with that amount reflecting on it and place it somewhere you can view it constantly. You can also write down your goals and repeat them to yourself regularly so that they become part of your subconscious. Studies have shown that your brain has similar patterns when you visualize yourself doing something as it does when you are actually doing it. Before I do something or go somewhere, I spend some time visualizing the outcome I desire and I usually get it. Visualization can also be negative when you visualize obstacles and limitations that would hinder you from achieving your goals.
One of my core values is continuous learning. I am committed to lifelong learning, because if you stop learning, you stop growing and you begin to decline. Continuous learning allows you to expand your skills to changes in the environment so you can easily adapt. I was surprised to see some statistic that people over 60 years form a significant part of the users on Facebook. This shows me that you never get too old to learn something new. If you want to make progress in life, you need to constantly expand your skills by learning new things. The important thing is that you focus on learning things that you can apply to move ahead.
This is the process of seeking to see what is new and different. Exploration usually means going out of your comfort zone and trying something different. I love exploring new countries and places. Sometimes I don’t even need to travel to do this, I just Google the country and learn about their culture, food and tourist attractions. This is one of the ways to expose your mind and ignite your creativity. Sometimes the reason why you don’t know what to do is that what you need to do is not around your immediate environment. You might need to try something new, go to a new place, meet new people, read a new book and you would expand your mind and it could transform your life.
This is the art of finishing what you started. Sheryl Sandberg the author of the famous book ‘Lean in’ says ‘it is better finished than perfect’. I used to be a bit of a perfectionist, but I realized it was hindering me from finishing things. So I decided that I would focus on doing the best I can with every project or goal and ensure that I complete it. I speak to quite a number of people, and their problem is not starting something, it is having the discipline and motivation to finish what they started.
Are you are ready to make immense progress in your life? Then I encourage you to take the habits I suggested seriously. Also if you want to get an objective assessment of your progress, take this free assessment checklist HERE