I love the freshness of the new year, so full of possibilities. If you are longing to turn something you’ve been dreaming of into something real, something concrete, I have a great place to start.
One of the most important things you can do is surprisingly simple: It’s to decide.
Simple, but perhaps not so easy.
Years ago, I said I wanted to be a writer and to write every day. For years I pined about this, but I couldn’t seem to take lasting steps and make this real. I grieved about not having enough time. I was raising my two daughters, I had a full-time demanding corporate job, I was running a household. I was busy. Time-starved!
That’s why I couldn’t make this work!
Or so I thought.
I said I wanted to write every day, but in reality, I hadn’t really committed to doing it.
I thought I did. I tried writing every day, but it ended up in fits and starts. I tried different strategies. I tried writing before work, when I woke up, late at night, at the end of the work day…None ever seemed right. After a few days, or at most a week, I’d drift to a stop. And be frustrated again. Why couldn’t I make this happen?
All of this proved to me that the real problem was that I didn’t have enough time.
But that’s wasn’t the case.
What was really going on was that I hadn’t intentionally decided this was the thing I wanted above all else and that I was going to do it.
Maybe I didn’t decide because ultimately it wasn’t right for me at then. It’s possible,
I think it probably had more to do with fear.
To decide to do something is a declaration, even if it’s just to yourself.
And, then what if?
What if its too hard?
What if I fail?
What if I’m not up to it?
It’s so much easier to sit back and say you don’t have enough of this or that. I thought I didn’t have enough time. Maybe you think you don’t have enough time either? Or maybe you think you don’t have enough money, or education, or creativity, or space to do the thing you say you want to do. It’s all a version of the same problem.
Once I realized I had just what I need and then learned how to tap into my deeper self and what I was really longing for, I was able to decide with deep conviction what I wanted more of in my life, and what I wanted less of.
That’s when real change started to happen.
I know, deciding can be scary.
When I talk to people interested in life coaching, some ask How will I know if this program will be a success? What are the guarantees?
I say, The outcome is 100% entirely dependent on you.
Yes, there’s a process and a structure, but if you aren’t ready to decide to change your mindset in order to find happiness, then you might skate through the process. Not dig in deep. Not open yourself up enough to really, deeply examine what might be going on.
And then you’ll find yourself in the same circumstances, experiencing the same set of emotions, living out the same patterns and frustrations as before.
But how to start deciding? It sounds easy but…
Decide to Decide or Not
Not deciding is another way of deciding, but it’s unconscious and often leaves you feeling like a victim. If the timing of something isn’t right for you to make a commitment to, then know that.
Saying “I want to be a writer, but I’m not going to focus on that this year because I want to spend extra time with my children” is different than saying “I want to be a writer but I don’t have any time to write” The first statement comes from a place of prior and priority, while the second is laden with victimhood.
If you realize you’ve been avoiding making a life decision or if not deciding is a pattern for you, start making changes by starting small. Begin by identifying one thing you want for yourself and then find the tiniest possible action that will move you forward. Small steps done consistently are much more doable and give way to greater momentum.
One reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is that come January 1st people get out the clipboard and whistle and take on a strict, disciplinary approach to making change happen. I’m not saying that approach doesn’t work ever, but kindness and positive reinforcement have been proven to be much more effective at enabling long term, lasting change.
Once you get better at deciding, you’ll find moving toward the changes you want to see in your life comes much more readily.
So, as you look out at the upcoming new year, I invite you to take the first real step to turning your dreams into something tangible: decide.