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How to Make 2013 The Best Year of Your Life

How to Make 2013 The Best Year of Your Life

We are now a couple of weeks into 2013—have you set yourself up for success this year?

In preparation for the new year, I recently posted the article “How to Reflect on 2012 and Set Yourself Up For Success in 2013

I had a number of emails from people that actually did the exercise and all of them made mention of the huge insights and benefits they got from doing so. One comment on LifeHack summarises exactly why I suggest you do the exercise:

“I just did this today and it was amazing. I went outside to a park with a beautiful view of San Francisco and wrote everything down on my iPad. I felt so thankful, happy, and inspired afterwards. It gave me great insight into how I want to approach 2013. Thanks for this post!”

best year of your life

    Reflection is the first step of understanding where you are. Before setting goals and planning the year, it’s important to look back over what you have done well, what challenges you faced, how did you overcome them, what relationships you developed and more. The best part of reflection is that it helps you to learn and develop from your experiences—something you most definitely want to do to set yourself up for success in 2013.

    I’m going to assume you have already read the article on how to reflect on 2012, so you can now progress to setting your goals for this year.

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    Ready? Let’s do it!

    1. Preparation

    Find yourself a peaceful and quiet area where you will have no distractions: perhaps head outdoors to a local park or to the beach. Even better, go to a place that inspires you and find a nice, comfortable spot  to sit.

    Take a notepad and pen with you, or if you’re “with the times”, take your iPad or other digital device for writing on. Also, don’t forget to take along the notes that you took when you did the reflection exercise.

    Spend 10 minutes reading over the notes you took from that previous exercise, which will help you to get back into the state of deep-thought and inner being. You might even find there are additional thoughts that come to mind—that’s fine, simply include them on your reflection sheet.

    2. Describe Your Ideal Life

    That’s right, we’re not getting into goal-setting just yet. First, you need to gain clarity around the longer-term.

    Describe what your ideal life looks like. Perhaps that is 5 years from now, perhaps it’s 10 years or even 20 years. Be realistic with what you think is possible, and think deeply about what you would absolutely love to be doing. You can use the questions below as thought prompters.

    What are you doing?

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    Who are you with?

    Where are you?

    Where do you live?

    How do you spend your day?

    What income are you earning?

    What’s generating your income?

    It’s important to gain clarity around where you want to get to in the longer-term before setting specific goals for the year, as you want your goals to be aligned to and help you progress towards your ideal life.

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    Take as long as you need to do this exercise.

    3. Set Your Goals

    Here is where we get specific.

    Using the inputs of the ideal life and reflection exercises, start thinking about what can be achieved realistically in 2013. Write SMART goals that you can achieve this year. To recap on SMART:

    S – Specific

    M – Measurable

    A – Achievable

    R – Relevant

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    T – Time bound

    Set yourself stretching targets. Psychologists have proven that incorporating the above elements from SMART into your goals and also making them “stretching” is the most effective way of ensuring motivation, drive, commitment, performance and ultimate success. Just remember that they also need to be realistic and achievable, otherwise you will demotivate yourself.

    Your goals should be aligned to your ideal life—if they’re not, ask yourself why you are even considering putting it down on paper and committing to it.

    Next Steps

    You know where you want to go and you’re set up for success this year!

    You’re now ready to take action. You should have a clear understanding of where you are now and where you want to get to longer-term, as well as specific and measurable goals that can create amazing change in your life this year. Change and progress happens one step at a time.

    The most important thing is that you actually take that first step. Momentum is a beautiful thing: once you start taking a few baby steps, you will learn to walk, and once you’re walking properly ,you’ll learn how to run. Your habits will be defined, and they will start to create success for you.

    I’m looking forward to sharing this amazing year with you. Here’s to making 2013 the best year of your life!

    Featured photo credit: lonely man walking via Shutterstock

     

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    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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