.

In the spirit of professional and personal development, we always aspire to add more to the foundation we’ve already created.  How can we be better? How can we do more?  How can we have more of an impact? How can we make more time for ourselves?

I truly believe that taking the time upfront to create a plan for and enacting systems in our lives makes a huge difference.  If you’re looking for a new year of positive change and you’re ready to take the steps that will help you get there, here are 16 ways to get started.

1. Reflect. Set aside some quiet time to think. Remove yourself from all distractions and enjoy the stillness. Focus on yourself and your journey; in your mind, revisit how far you’ve come and imagine where you’re headed.

2. Set goals.  Whether they relate to vacation plans, saving or professional development, goals give us something to look forward to and they ignite our spirit.  They require work and effort but we secretly enjoy that.  At the end of the day they’re ours and give us a sense of accomplishment because we picked them, committed to them, and followed through with earning them.  As humans, we aspire to have purpose and meaning in life; and goals are a manageable and tactile way to do this, one at a time.

3. Create a plan.  Forward-thinking businesses take a considerable amount of time to plan. This includes both long-term and short-term. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same.

4. Create a vision board.  They say that seeing is believing.  This is particularly relevant as it relates to your aspirations when you take your ideas and visions from abstract things in your head and giving them form and shape that you can see.  If you can place them visually, then you’re more likely to create a space for them in your future.

5. Create an advisory board.  Yes, this is for yourself. I believe that you’re important enough to have one.  We never have all the answers ourselves, and it is important to know who to go to when you have questions.  Enlist a group of people who have been there, are vested in your success and who you can learn from.

6. Find an accountability partner.  You’re not alone on this road called life.  I know it feels that way sometimes but there’s a traffic jam of people trying to get somewhere. You and your friends may be getting off at different exits, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be there for each other when you need a jumpstart.  Your eyes are on the road ahead but check up on others who are dear to you periodically to see how they’re coming along in their lane and help them ensure they’ll make their anticipated arrival time.

7. Create a budget.  A lot of people run from numbers. I happen to like them! I always have.  I find a lot of truth in them and they always bring a story full circle.  This isn’t just for businesses as the same underlying principles apply to our personal lives.  Each of us can calculate our net worth.  Numbers help create flexibility in the non-financial aspects of our lives.  If flexibility is important to you, start by creating a budget you will commit to.

8. Prioritize friends and family.  Our journey isn’t as much fun when we don’t have people who care to share it with.  We are happy when we see our loved ones smiling and happy. Make time for them, travel to see them, call them, swap joyful and painful stories with them and make memories with them.  I believe that we create some of our most meaningful experiences and memories with friends and family.

9. Initiate conversations.  Make it a point to find out about the people around you when you’re at the bus stop, in the beloved middle seat on an airplane or at a networking event.  It is easy to forget a simple “How are you doing?” when we’re in a rush to get somewhere or with something pressing on our radar.  But some of my biggest life takeaways came from unexpected conversations with strangers.  When I was 16 and volunteering at the library, I was speaking with a woman and told her how I wished I had siblings. She told me all I needed to do was make good friends.  This advice holds true to this day as some of my best friends are like siblings to me, and in fact, I call them that.  I made it a point to mention networking event because after business cards are exchanged and elevator speeches are given, it is the ability to relate to others on a fundamentally human level that sustains relationships and this comes before the best business deals are made.

10. Keep learning.  Do you remember how caught up you were with each new toy you received as a child?  We like things that are new, exciting, shiny and that challenge us.  I don’t remember the last time I read a reference manual.  I prefer the hand-on and experiential approach of learning-by-doing.  We live in an age where learning is fun because of the number of tools available to bring information to us.  We can customize our delivery by form, time, method, origin, etc. with minimal effort.  That is exciting and a great facilitator for continuous learning.

11. Find your niche.  It is highly rewarding and empowering when you can find a space in this world where you thrive.  A place where you have no fear of competition or anyone upstaging you because you’re at your peak performance there.  This is where your strengths, knowledge and passion align.  You’re leading the edge and even if there are challenges and continuous effort involved, you’re motivated to go the extra distance.  When you find that space that you can call your own, you’re more likely to be of value, impactful, and create a legacy.

12. Give back.  It is never too early to do this and you’re never without sufficient resources to share with others.  This doesn’t have to be in a financial form as it can also be with time, knowledge or a helping hand.  I’m sure someone went out if their way to help you at some point.  I know many did for me and years after, I remember and acknowledge their selflessness.  Be the timely guiding light that someone else may be seeking.

13. Make time for a hobby.  You may have something that you’ve always loved doing or maybe you’re open to trying something completely new.  Either way, participating in activities outside of your typical day help you bring new approaches and perspectives to your day-to-day activities.  Not only will it be personally rewarding but it can also lead to you being more well-rounded.

14. Go places and see things.  Have you visited your local museums lately?  When will you take that cruise you’ve been planning?  Our world is so eclectic that we can live completely different lives from others who are ten minutes away but it is still small enough that we can experience the lives of those who are 2,000 miles away.  We learn a lot about ourselves and appreciate how we fit in the big picture better when we have additional perspectives and varying points of views to anchor our own.

15. Take risks.  When I’m in an art studio, I have to channel my inspiration in order to bring form to a blank canvas.  So with that same approach, I’m a big proponent of stretching ourselves for development which usually involves the willingness to step out if our comfort zone.  But I’m a logical person, and it has to be within reason.  So I find calculated risks to be a good balance.  Get a sense of what you’ll do, how you’ll do it and then do it.

16. Pivot and make changes.  When we take the first step, there is no guarantee as to how things will turn out.  Even when we’re headed in the right direction, the circumstances around us may change beyond our control.  What we can control is how we respond and the additional steps we take.  When necessary, make lateral moves, and even take steps backwards, to get further ahead.  Be open to making necessary changes along your journey.

Have you tried a similar approach to achieve your goals or achieve certain results? How do you create an environment that facilitates your success?

Connect with TheAfter5Edge:  Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Related posts: