Forward thinking: Helpful insights for 2018

I’m excited about what 2018 may bring!

How about you?

Most of us have an idea about areas where we would like to improve. At the beginning of the year, those ideas sometimes turn into resolutions, goals or intentions — at the very least. I for one am a big believer in making “intentions.” However, I believe it is important to go into them with a realistic perspective on improvement for the New Year.

Regardless of what your long-term improvement goals might be, I have several insights in mind that I have learned over the years. I submit them for your consideration and possible use.

Insight no. 1: Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong.

We can’t change if we are unwilling to recognize that there might be something wrong with how we’ve been doing things. Admitting you were wrong proves you are wiser today than you were yesterday. One of the things I do when I review the past year is identify where I was not productive.

Insight no. 2: You will never change your life until you change something that you do daily.

Improvement is based on two things: the decisions we make; and the disciplines we practice. Acting on our decisions daily is what makes a goal a reality. So identify daily disciplines you want to practice in 2018.

Insight no. 3: You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Be specific in creating goals. For example, don’t say, “I’m going to read more this year.” Instead, break it down into measurable increments, like “I’m going to read two chapters a day in whatever book I am reading,” or “I’m going to read two books a month.”

Insight no. 4: Set realistic expectations for your improvement.

Do you want to lose weight? Be realistic in how many pounds you can reasonably expect to lose in a month. There is no greater recipe for failure than setting a goal that’s little more than a “pipe dream.”

Insight no. 5: Continual change is essential for continual improvement.

One of the great paradoxes of success is that the things which got you there are seldom the things which keep you there. Be prepared to make course corrections and continue to stretch and grow throughout the year. To do that, plan a review of your plan every few months – this is particularly hard for me since I am a creature of habit.

Insight no. 6: Motivation gets you going. Habits keep you going.

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a month. We underestimate what we can accomplish or do in a year. Frankly, I am convinced that is why so many so-called New Year’s Resolutions are broken in the first few months. Focus on establishing habits, and you will be able to continue when the motivation fades and the newness wears off.

Insight no. 7: FOCUS.

Years ago, I heard a man say, “If you would be rich, you will be rich; if you would be good, you will be good; if you would be learned, you will be learned. But wish for one thing exclusively, and don’t at the same time wish for a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.” In other words, FOCUS. What is the one area in which you most desire to grow and succeed in the coming year?

Insight no. 8: Spend 80 percent of your time working on your strengths.

I would encourage you to evaluate your skills. Invite input from your colleagues, friends, and family members. Then focus on developing and growing in the areas of strength.

Growing in a weak area might bring you up to average in that area. However, an area of strength has the potential to make you exceptional. What is your greatest strength? How can you improve it?

I would strongly encourage you to review your past year and set goals as you enter this this New Year. But remember, success develops daily, not in a day.

And remember… one simple but important way to stay on track is to regularly ask yourself this question: “Is what I’m doing today getting me closer to my goal tomorrow?” And…

Develop good habits and the discipline to keep them. Evaluate every day, and you’ll stay on course toward achieving your long–term goals. I wish you well in 2018.

Until next time… How might you be able to “pay forward” their generosity?

Loren (1)–By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years and is currently a member of the Lynnwood Civil Service Commission. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is also a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.

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