We have made it through Christmas and are winding our way toward 2021. I just got brave enough to look at my 2020 Vision post from last year around this time. COVID-19 threw such a wrench into my ideas about what I would create in 2020 that I hadn’t let myself look at it in a long time. Here we are, still entrenched in a pandemic, yet we have to keep living while we are waiting for things to return to “normal.” It was one thing to be knocked off kilter by the surreality of the pandemic, but this is life as we know it for now and for the foreseeable future. So, we must move on.
It was nearly two months ago that I settled on the accomplishments I intend to achieve in 2021, and I clarified an identity mantra a couple weeks ago. These are the beacons I am currently using and what I intend to use to carry me through 2021 toward my vision of success.
“The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” –Mike Dooley
A big part of achieving any meaningful goal in life is to see ourselves as “the kind of person who _________” and then to start living as that kind of person to the greatest extent possible right now.
Creating an identity mantra is one way to do this. Find a way to really clear your head (The bike works best for me.) and honestly ask yourself what you really want to achieve in the next year. Focus on one to no more than five accomplishments that you want to have under your belt by the end of 2021. What would you call yourself if you achieved these things? For instance, if you want to have run a marathon, you would call yourself a runner. If you want to have quit smoking, you would call yourself a nonsmoker. Use this identity to craft an identity mantra—something that you will use as beacon to direct your activities and guide you toward accomplishing what you want to accomplish. The three accomplishments that became clear priorities for me on a bike ride in early November are: securing a book deal, building a robust platform and creating a writing life—clearly all related. The identity mantra that I crafted to help me internalize those accomplishments is: “I am grateful to be a successful author and coach, embodying what I teach and living a life of freedom, flexibility and meaning.”
Say, write, read and visualize your identity mantra every day, several times a day. Really see it and feel it. What does it feel like to have accomplished what you set out to accomplish? What does it look like? How is life different and better? Feel gratitude in advance for your success. The more vivid you can make this for yourself, the better. Visualize it in your journal; in meditation; in prayer; on your walks, runs, swims or bike rides; in the shower; while washing dishes; while driving—any time you can. See yourself going through your day as a person who _______ and immerse yourself in what it feels like to be that person.
“. . . there is actual data showing that visualizing success makes it more likely to become reality.” –Shawn Achor
Reverse engineer the steps to be who you want to be by the end of 2021. What will it take to become that person? Even if you don’t or can’t spell out all the steps in minute detail right away, take time to figure out the major components of success. This may be quite simple or quite complicated, depending on what you are working to achieve. But figure out the big picture and then break it down to the first action you can take. Get started today. And keep going tomorrow. As I have written, we often need to move in tiny steps, but moving is the main thing. Anything is progress.
It is critical to plan for the unexpected, as well as for expected interruptions. Life will get in the way. We are in a pandemic now. Hopefully, we won’t be at some point in the next year. But there will be other things—hopefully, not on this magnitude, but you can be sure there will be something. Or several things. All of us get knocked down by life at times. While I didn’t let go of my identity mantra and my intentions for 2021 during the lead-up to Christmas, I certainly didn’t embody the JustWind mindset in every moment. I firmly believe that when we recognize that we have the power and freedom to choose our perspectives, we can liberate ourselves from the victim mindset (I didn’t succeed at this all the time as Christmas approached.), optimize our lives (this either) and make the difference we are meant to make. (We can never make our best contributions when we are overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.) I’m disappointed in the way I handled this (and every) Christmas season. I am committed to learning from the disappointment and moving forward, doing better in the future. And I am committed to continuing to believe in my identity mantra and to doing something each day to bring me closer to living it as fully as possible.
We have to forgive ourselves when we mess up. It will happen. The key is not to let it totally derail us. We can reframe what success looks like and decide that we are successful when we recognize our missteps on the road to our new identity, decide to learn from them and move forward in a more productive direction. If we can do this, getting right back on the (literal or figurative) bike saddle, and resuming forward momentum, we should pat ourselves on the backs and celebrate our success. Then we keep moving more fully toward the self and the future we envision.
“The question is not whether you’ll slip up but, rather, how you’ll respond when you do.” –Jen Sincero
Bonus points and power: Choose a word for 2021. I started doing this several years ago, and it can serve as a short, powerful trigger to help you make choices that are aligned with your priorities. Put it (and your mantra) on sticky notes where you will see them often. Consider engraving your word on a bracelet or painting it on a stone. (I have done both in the past.) Most importantly, keep it in the front of your mind. It’s important to discern your word carefully. Try it on to see how it resonates. Like many things, I find my best clarity around choosing my word to come on my bike. After I was reminded of the word practice recently (COVID-19 knocked my 2020 word right out of my head.), I tried on a couple words. They were close but didn’t feel exactly right. I went for a bike ride and rode into my answer for 2021: JustWind. It’s my word. It encapsulates my book, my business, my philosophy, my trust in myself—all things I intend to emphasize in 2021. What’s your word for 2021? Why? What does it mean to you? How does it represent who you want to be?
Rather than a traditional New Year’s resolution, I encourage you to try this approach to achieving your desired accomplishments. Decide on an identity and start believing in yourself as that person right now. Get a little head start on 2021 and begin now. Live it. See it. Believe it. Be it.
You can help me achieve my 2021 accomplishments by sharing this post on social media or with someone you think might benefit. If you think it has merit and would like to help me along the way, please share it. This helps me reach people I would not otherwise reach in order to build a robust platform, which is a must for securing a nonfiction book deal.
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Let’s take control where we can and create a powerful 2021!