30 Ways to Flip Your Script in 2017
New year, new you. This is such a significant concept that industries everywhere spend millions in pursuit of their goal to sell you stuff to reinvent yourself, or reinvigorate yourself, or whatever the heck you might need to pull yourself out of the inevitable slump you will have reached by year’s end. And by all measures, 2016 was a doozy of a year. It’s been a year of mud-slinging and hate speech, a year of bullying and divisiveness. I don’t so much want a new me this year as I do a new political landscape, a new way of being with one another, a new perspective that will help me feel less helpless and less hopeless.
I’ve decided that flipping the script is my directive for the new year. This insight came from a talk I gave recently to a group of authors in which I asserted that investing in yourself is powerful. In fact, it’s a power play, because when you decide to become an author, no one else cares about you and your success as much as you—and therefore in order to succeed, you have to believe you’re worthy of success. One of the participants came up to me afterward and confessed something I know to be true of many authors— that investing in her own work had been a source of shame. Now the seed had been planted that maybe it was something different, something empowering. Flipping the script.
We can change outcomes, but we have to want to. We can rewrite our stories, rewire our patterns. Flipping the script means going against what you’re naturally inclined to do—for a positive result. Here are 30 more ideas to at least shake things up a bit, and I welcome your additions.
1. Spend an hour in January creating a three-column list: (1) Things you want to do more of; (2) Things you want to keep doing the same way; (3) Things you want to stop doing.
2. Meditate on a single affirmation statement, like “I am worthy,” or “I am enough,” or whatever statement needs to sink into your bones. Do this every day for at least a week.
3. Attend a meaningful event. I’m talking about something that will inspire you—maybe a TEDx event, or a daylong writing workshop, or a retreat hosted by people who inspire you.
4. Read poetry, slowly. Say the words aloud, and share passages with friends. (Writers, check out David Whyte, Mark Nepo, and Mary Oliver.)
5. Do this assignment, taken from Abigail Thomas’s must-read memoir, What Comes Next and How to Like It: “Take any ten years of your life, reduce them to two pages, and every sentence has to be three words long.”
6. Ask your friends for an “intention” word for the new year. This is going around on Facebook, and it’s helpful. What word would those who love you wish for you to carry in 2017? Ask and be inspired.
7. Give to a cause you care about, but do it in someone else’s name.
8. Write something so honest you feel like your gut might split, then post it on Facebook and wait a full day to read the responses.
9. List the 5 most elusive things on your bucket list and then 5 things that are holding you back from doing them. Post this list on your fridge.
10. Practice power posing (see Amy Cuddy’s TED talk for instruction).
11. Enroll in a class that has connects you to something you truly enjoyed in childhood (ie, ballet, swimming, piano).
12. Buy yourself flowers for no reason.
13. Set up a bank account and pay yourself $20 for every blog post you write, $100 for anything published on someone else’s blog, and $200 for anything published in print. See how much you earn at the end of the year.
14. Collect writing prompts for when you get into a funk and need to find a way out. Having something ready and waiting for you really helps.
15. Introduce yourself to a writer you admire (online or in person), and tell them that their work is meaningful to you, and/or why.
16. Frame rejection letters, or make a collage of your rejection emails and feature them prominently in your workspace.
17. Come up with a mantra for 2017 and add it to your email signature line.
18. If there’s a label you need to own (like writer or author), add it to all your online bios.
19. Get a professional head shot, and tell the photographer that you want at least one option that’s authoritative (having or proceeding from authority). Let them guide you here.
20. Brag in front of the mirror and see how this feels. If it’s easy, stop here. If it feels like you want to crawl out of your skin, challenge yourself to pat yourself on the back for a true accomplishment in the company of friends or family.
21. Do this exercise, which I learned from attending a creativity workshop with Elizabeth Gilbert: “Choose an emotion—like fear, compassion, desire, persistence—and write a letter to yourself from that emotion, embodying it in the first person. Discover what deeper wisdom your emotions hold.
22. Reach out to someone who’s meaningful to you, who you haven’t seen in a long time for whatever reason, and request a phone or lunch date. Reconnecting with someone from your past who you specifically haven’t been in touch with will reconnect you with buried parts of yourself.
23. Designate a You Holiday. Choose any day of the year. Give it a name and a theme. If it resonates, make it an annual thing. Take the day off to connect to something meaningful to you, or to give space for dreaming and creation.
24. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” These are words to live by from Steve Jobs’s famous commencement speech at Stanford in 2005.
25. Risk offending someone to speak your truth. Words matter, and speaking up about your experiences and your values will connect you to your power.
26. Feel the fear and do it anyway. This is the title of a book written 30 years ago by Susan Jeffers. It’s still a good and relevant book, and it serves as a good mantra.
27. Choose something from nature—wind, a tree, a volcano, the ocean, even an animal—that connects you to a source of power. Buy a painting or photograph, or create or take one yourself. Give yourself the gift of connecting to something primal.
28. Set an intention for yourself at the beginning of each month. Post the word on a Post-It and stick it to your dashboard, to your corkboard, to the door so you’ll see it on your way out. Find out what happens when you remind yourself on a daily basis of something that’s meaningful to you, or to which you aspire.
29. Do a major clearing out. This might entail getting rid of stuff, cutting your hair, boxing stuff up and moving things out. Space is powerful, and claiming it is part of claiming your power. If you feel overwhelmed, take a look around and consider what you might be able to let go of.
30. I leave you with lyrics from George Michael’s “Heal the Pain”: “Be good to yourself, because nobody else has the power to make you happy . . . ”