10 Steps To……2020

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Surprise! You didn’t expect it would come this soon, did you? It’s shocking how surreptitious time can be.

For many people, the new year can be a stressful time. Sure, there are a lot of feel-good moments taking place. I mean, you’ve got Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, Carson Daly, Steve Harvey and a host of other celebrities to help start your year off with excitement, right? 

But, the truth is the emotional high dies down. And soon after, we all go back to the struggle. You know the struggle I’m referring to. Pick one:

  • Your weight isn’t where you want it to be
  • Your relationship isn’t what you thought
  • You hate your job
  • The kids aren’t listening
  • The Williams’ (aka the bills) are getting on your last nerve
  • Somebody is sick
  • You don’t have enough {insert your favorite complaint here}

The list is endless.

In fact, our stress levels continue to increase yearly. According to Gallup, 55% of Americans report feeling high levels of stress throughout their day. This number increases around the new year because of the insane amount of comparison taking place. People begin looking at themselves and what they accomplished or more truthfully what they didn’t accomplish. Then, we hop on Instagram and Facebook to see everyone else’s Year In Review slideshow. It’s a recipe for hypertension.

But, your new year doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be a time to create new levels of success and opportunity. Here are 10 things to consider as you build out your 2020. I’ve divided them into 4 areas I call HIER (pronounced higher).

Health

  1. Sleep – We know that good sleep is essential to health yet we are getting less of it.  But I’m in bed for 6+ hours a night, you say. Blue light from our phones, computers and devices interrupt circadian rhythms and make it harder to wind down. Try plugging in your device in another room. Seriously! It will be hard at first but you will notice a difference in your sleep and even your level of anxiety
  2. Write or Speak – With so much information bombarding us constantly, we need a place to explore and process outside of our brain space.  University of Rochester researchers lists journaling as a healthy way to manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression. You may not write well or like writing so pull up the voice memo app on your phone and speak your thoughts for 5 minutes a day. It’s cathartic and can help you verbalize ideas before you need to pull on them later in the day when it’s more stressful.
  3. Exercise – There is no shortage of research on the benefits of exercise. So, why do gyms stack up on January 1st but see losses by January 31st? And we’re not talking about weight loss here. People get overwhelmed by long periods of time, especially when they find themselves less motivated. Keep exercise simple. Download an app like the 7-Minute Workout or 8Fit to keep exercise short, simple and interesting. Then, do other simple healthy activities like using stairs instead of elevators or park further away at the mall.

Intention

  1. Who do you want to be? – Several years ago, I read a book called Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. It talked about the process of writing your own eulogy. What would you want people to say about you at your funeral? If you know what you want to hear, then you can create it now. Who do you want to be and what will it take to become this person? Take on one action daily. If you want to be known as a kind person, how many kind acts can you perform daily? Make a plan.
  2. Why do you want to be this person? We often quit because we aren’t invested deeply enough in what we are doing. If your why isn’t strong enough, you won’t be around long enough. Figure out why it’s important to you to be a certain way. The more invested you are, the longer you will stay the course.
  3. How can you be this person? You know who you want to be and you know why. But, the challenge for many is “willpower.” Here’s a shock…willpower is overrated. We fail often, not because we aren’t strong enough, but because we haven’t put systems in place for success. We have not created accountability around each plan. So, ask yourself, who can hold you accountable? Is there a community or small group to help you stay fired up about your goal? The more levels of accountability you have in place, the greater your chances are for completing your plan or achieving your goals.

Execute

  1. Plan in chunks – Several years ago I read a book by Brian L. Moran called The 12 Week Year. It revolutionized how I thought about my goals. Instead of planning out an entire year for my life and/or my business, I focused on one main activity for 12 weeks. The first time I instituted this plan, I was focused on writing. I wrote everyday for 12 weeks. After that 12 week block was complete, I found that I had written more content in that 12-week time period than I had over the past 5 years combined. If you want quantum leaps in specific areas, consider a 12-week year for that area.
  2. Create a repeatable system and make less decisions – Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerburg is famous for wearing grey t-shirts and jeans. When asked why he does this he responded, “It’s one less decision to make.” We make numerous decisions daily and many of them are small decisions. Are there small things you can repeat and put on auto-pilot daily so you can save your brainpower for the larger, more consequential decisions? Audit your day and see what you can systemize.

Recharge

  1. Regular Sabbatical – God did something amazing when He created the concept of Sabbath. (Controversy coming) Unfortunately, for many of us, Sabbath has turned into just a “spiritual job.” We do just as much work or running around and don’t get a chance to…you know…rest! Without reaching into a theological discussion, one of the best decisions I made was to claim several sabbatical times during my year. I scheduled them on my calendar and they were non-negotiable days where I disconnected and spent time away from everyone except God. You may not think you can afford to do this. You don’t have to head to a cabin in the woods or a luxury resort. Find a cheap Airbnb or spend a day on your own at a park. Whatever you have to do, find a way to create some sabbatical time for yourself.
  2. Review – We live day to day and moment by moment. But when do we take time to review where we are and what we’ve done? Get out your calendar and schedule time to review and celebrate daily. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be big. Find time, even 5 minutes, to intentionally celebrate the God moments in your life daily.

God has plans for you and He wants you to be intentional about planning also. Plans don’t mean busy all day every day.

Plans mean being intentional about how you live each moment.

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