A Different and Better Year Ahead?

If you randomly ask 100 people if they would like 2018 to be “better” most everyone would say yes. When you ask them what they are going to do to ensure that it is indeed better you’ll likely get just as vague an answer as the question you asked. 


The problem with the question of course is that “better” can be defined in literally millions of ways. Better to one person might be less rain in 2018 but if your a farmer in a drought stricken area less rain would be the exact opposite of “better.” 


The more specific you are in stating exactly what “better” looks and feels like the greater your chances of actually having a better 2018.


Setting goals for yourself in 2018 can most certainly help, making resolutions almost certainly won’t. But whether you have goal or resolutions heading into the new year your best chance of having a better 2018 is simply to make better choices and decisions.


You likely have far more choices than you realize and you have a ton more control over the circumstances of your life than you think. If fact, if you’re like most people you don’t actually consider just how much of your life you can change just by changing the choices you make. 


You choose your friends… do you ever consider that? Do you complain about one friend to another? I suppose everyone does that once in a while but if you are consistently complaining about one or two people in your life then you should be asking yourself why you are allowing them to be part of your life. 


The most successful people do not complain about things they have control over, they just choose to change them. You get to choose your friends and you get to choose most of the people who are a part of your life. 


You are basically the compilation of the five or ten people you spend the most time with. That means one of the fastest ways to change your life is to change the people you hang out with. 


That’s not always easy, in fact it’s frequently hard, but it is worth considering and then doing if you want to be in control of your life. 


Another choice most people seldom consider is their thoughts. You DO choose what to think in any given circumstance. You can look for the good or the bad in most any situation and more often than not, you’ll find what you’re looking for. 


Your thoughts play a major role in controlling your life because your thoughts almost always are reflected in your actions (even if you believe you can hide your thoughts from other people) and it’s your actions that people pay attention to. Always remember, people believe some of what you say but they believe everything that they see you do. 


I’d encourage you to pick one day, one single day is all you’ll likely need, pick a day and consider for just a second or two why you thought what you just thought. Where did that thought come from? Before you do something pause for just two or three seconds and ask yourself why you’re doing it. 


It will likely take far less than a day for you to realize how many choices you actually make without considering how much those choices will impact your life.


Sooner or later we all sit down at the table of consequences. Whether what you eat at that table is sweet or bitter is the result of hundreds of choices you make each day, many without even realizing it was a choice. 


Once you realize how many choices you actually make in a day, many without even thinking, you’ll have a chance at making better choices. Better choices lead to a better life. 

So what exactly does “better”mean? Well that’s just another choice that you get to make for yourself.

Ditch the Resolutions

Want more success in 2017? Then ditch the New Years Resolutions and replace them with a mentor. 

There is so much evidence that New Years Resolutions have no lasting impact that I won’t even bother with explaining why they are almost always a complete waste of time.

There is also ample evidence that having a mentor does have long term impact on the mentees future success. If you truly want greater success in the coming year then your first step is to get yourself a mentor. 

I’ve been blessed throughout my career with mentors who cared as much about me as they cared about their own success. That perhaps is the single greatest attribute a mentor must have, they really need to care about the person they are mentoring.

I get asked on average at least once a week to mentor someone and one of my biggest regrets is that I have to say no. I’m mentoring a few people already and I couldn’t truly be effective mentoring more. Mentoring is serious stuff and requires a serious time commitment on the both of both the mentor and the mentee. 

If you’re serious about having a mentor in 2017 then look for a person who is willing to share their knowledge, skills and expertise. Sadly, too many people in organizations see passing along their knowledge and skills to be a risk to their job security. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. If you have the ability to help others grow then you will always be needed somewhere.

Your mentor needs to be a person who will take a personal interest in you and who desires a personal relationship with you. They must invest themselves in your success. If your mentor frequently needs to cancel or change the time of your meeting then you likely need a different mentor. 

Your mentor needs to be someone who cares enough about you to offer you constructive feedback. They have to have the courage to potentially tell you some things that you may not want to hear. They also need to have the compassion and communication skills to tell you it in such a way as to allow you to hear it, understand it, believe it, and act upon it. 

A good mentor is a person who sets a good example. They regularly achieve their own goals, they are respected by others and they demonstrate successful habits. They “walk their talk” while challenging their mentees to do the same. They never ask someone else to do something that are unwilling to do themselves.

Regardless of your age or level of success you’ll be better off in 2017 if you have a mentor. A real mentor. Formalize a mentoring relationship with someone who can help you grow personally and professionally and see for yourself the difference it will make in your level of success in the New Year!

Eight Percent

Eight percent! That’s the percentage of people who make New Year’s resolutions that will keep them. 25% of people will keep them less than a week. 

I never recommend making resolutions in the first place, I am far more partial to setting actual goals. Goals are much more concrete but you must remember that if you’re setting true goals then you’ll need to invest some time to develop a plan for achieving them too.

But if you insist on making New Years resolutions at least give yourself a chance to keep them. 

Here’s how:

Make it simple. Many people make a long list of resolutions and when they fail at one the momentum, and motivation, to keep the others goes away. Make your resolutions small and easy to keep…. a little progress is better than no progress at all. 

For instance, don’t resolve to lose 25 pounds, resolve to leave a few bites on your plate at the end of your meals. Losing weight requires a life style change and those kind of changes seldom come from a simple decision or resolution. Leaving behind your lifelong membership in the clean plate club however can be much easier.

Be specific. This principle comes from the most effective goal setters. The more specific you are when stating your resolution the more likely you are to keep it. Specificity leads to an emotional attachment to your resolution and makes it easier to invest in…and keep.

Rather than say you’re going to “be a better person in 2016” state in very specific terms what behavior you will change or eliminate to make that happen. Don’t forget the simple part… a resolution to be more positive is too general to succeed and it’s also likely complicated. 

So resolve to smile more, make a conscious choice to smile often because it’s tough to be negative with a smile on your face.  Decide this very moment how many times a day you’re going to smile and then set an alarm in your smartphone to remind yourself. Every time that alarm goes off think of something that makes you smile. You’ll be surprised at how it can improve your attitude.

Share your resolution. Tell people who care about you that you made a resolution and ask them to help you keep it. Successful people are not afraid to ask for help, if you’re serious about your resolution then you’ll almost certainly need some help to keep it. 

Try and try again. Most people give up their resolution the first time they fail to keep it. If you fail to keep your resolution on a Monday then make it anew on Tuesday. If it was worth making once then it’s worth making again. If it’s a self-improvement resolution you’re better off keeping it half the time throughout the year than you are keeping it all the time for the first few days of the year. 

Eight percent is a relatively small percentage but being part of it can make a big difference for you in the new year. It’s never easy to succeed but if it’s truly worth it to you then you’ll do more than make a resolution, you’ll keep it too. 

You’re Gonna Need a New Excuse

Ah, next year! It’s the ageless excuse for procrastinators and low performers alike.

Wait until next year. I’m gonna do it next year. Next year will be different. Next year will be MY year. Use whatever variation of “next year” you like but if you’ve used that excuse for waiting on anything in 2014 I have some bad news for you.

You’re gonna need a new excuse… because next year has arrived.

Maybe, just maybe instead of a new excuse you ought to make a plan. A plan to REALLY accomplish something great in 2015. A plan to actually make 2015 your best year ever. A plan that gives you an opportunity to truly succeed.

If you’re interested in replacing excuses with plans then here is a simply process you can use to develop a workable plan. One little caveat; developing a plan is the easy part, executing it takes discipline and the desire to accomplish something. Before you invest time in planning I would encourage you to set your mind to putting the plan into action.


To develop a solid plan you must first have a realistic understanding of where you’re at today. You need to be very honest with yourself, if you have $50,000 in credit card debt you are not a “little” in debt. So let me repeat, you need to be very honest with yourself about where you are today. If you won’t admit where you are you’ll find it nearly impossible to get to where you want to go.

Once you are certain where you are then focus on where you want to be. Honestly and realism is again the key here; wanting to be The King of England for instance is not realistic unless your name is Charles, William or George. Even that isn’t realistic unless you have like 20 last names too.

The distance between where you are today and where you want to be is your “opportunity gap.” The greater the gap, the greater your opportunities… and the more work you have to do.

Once you’ve identified your gap you can set some goals. You’ll need short range goals, medium range goals and some long range goals. Short range goals are anywhere from 1 day to a week in time, medium range goals are measured in weeks and months and long range goals are a year or longer.

Make your goals specific, most people are good at making deadlines for their goals, to improve your odds of success you also must set a starting time, as in, “I will begin working on this goal on…..” and then set your date.

The most successful people are well balanced people so set goals in several areas of your life. Work goals, financial goals, spiritual goals, and health goals are just a few that come to mind.

Here’s the most important part of your plan…. SHARE IT! Share it with someone who cares about you enough to hold you accountable for executing your plan. This person needs to be willing to review your plan with you periodically to help you stay on track. Select this person with care because they can greatly impact the odds of your plan getting you to where you want to go.

Excuses hold you back, plans push you forward. Don’t start the New Year with an old excuse, make a plan for success today.