We're nearly a full week into the new year and what a year it 2017 was. Over these recent weeks, I am sure you’ve seen lots of talk about “wins” and “all I want to hear is congratulations” from pretty much every angle. The optimism of a new year is always welcome, but sometimes that excitement comes with an undercurrent of pressure. And it wasn’t just in my head - over 5,000 people seemed to agree:
While the source of this pressure may come from many places - our own minds and the information we digest daily, one thing everyone could agree on was that the pressure is real. Even major publications like Inc. have recognised this.
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” - a great book
So I began to wonder - what's the use of all this pressure, if at the end of the day more is said than done?
On one hand, healthy pressure and expectations keep us motivated; always looking for new ways to bring our very best to the table. But there is a tipping point...
As the comments and feedback flooded in, it was clear to me that from a distance, it's easy to confuse intense anxiety with being motivated. If your 'motivation' is making you compare yourself to others, and focus on all the things you don't have or are not doing, then it might not be as productive as you think. Being able to differentiate between the two will determine whether 2018 will reap the right results, or be filled with purposeless activity. Who wants to spend all their precious energy on something that ends up being misaligned to your longer-term goals?
Maybe 2018 isn’t about doing more, and getting more wins.
Instead, maybe it’s our time to get the foundations right. Our time to do less work with a greater impact. Less hustling and more productivity, less ‘stuff’ and more intentional choices. That is my aspiration for 2018, and these are some ways in which I'll keep my mind on the right path:
1. Define your ‘wins’ for yourself
In a world where it feels like everything is trying to convince you of what you ‘should’ be doing, this might take a bit of work. But it’s worth spending time alone to define what success really looks like to you. You’re the only one that has to live with your decisions, once all the external opinions go quiet.
You might need to periodically check-in with yourself, and trusted friends/advisors, and keep refining your version of success throughout the year. Things change, life evolves and old habits of comparison and anxiety die hard.
Which voices are you allowing in and which ones are you keeping out? Some of my Instagram family shared their tips for keeping their minds on their own paths:
2. Recognise that life is short, but also long.
And you don’t know which one yours will be. Take comfort in that uncertainty and develop a steady pace. However it ends up, that was your path to run, your marathon. So don’t rush and burnout too early, but don’t spend too long watching from the sidelines before you get into the game.
3. Make a plan in context.
What did you do last year to prep for the ‘wins’ that you’ve dreamt about in 2018?
This exercise is incredibly helpful because many people who doubted themselves realised that they did a lot more than expected last year. We did an in-depth version of this exercise at the last WAVEMAKERS session. Celebrate yourself.
Now based on last year, what can you build on? What skills gaps do you need to fill? Has your 2018 win aspiration sprung out of nowhere? If so, it might be time to restructure and revisit point 1. One of the most popular posts of 2017, How to Make the Most of the Present might help with defining something on your own terms.
And there you have it, three key strategies for making this year a great one, without all the unnecessary pressure.
Do you have any thoughts or resolutions as we get into 2018? Share them in the comments section below, or tweet me what you think!