Get a Jump on January: 10 Steps to Your Best Year Yet

Getting on the right path before the ball drops takes nothing more than a pen, paper and 30 minutes of quiet time.
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Well, the world didn't end, and 2013 is just around the corner. With a new year comes new challenges and opportunities. If you're like me, the end of December is a great time to reassess, reset and come at life with fresh energy and renewed motivation on Jan. 1.

Like all opportunities, however, it needs to be seized, and with all the comings and goings of the holidays and the mad scramble to get back to work, life and normality on Jan. 2, our good intentions can get lost in the shuffle.

The good news is that getting on the right path before the ball drops takes nothing more than a pen, paper and 30 minutes of quiet time. Ready? Let's begin.

1. Be Grateful

I became an uncle for the first time in September. Amazing, right? I'm already so proud of my nephew and can't wait to watch him grow. Also, my parents visited me in California for the first time this year, and we had a wonderful 10 days together making memories that will stay with me forever.

I'm grateful for these things, and for staying healthy, my supportive friends and loving partner. What are you grateful for in 2012? Health, family, your dog, having great hair, Words With Friends? Whatever it is, write it down and bathe in your gratitude for a moment.

2. Give Yourself Some Credit

Let's stay positive and give yourself a big pat on the back! What are you proud of this year? Did you get a promotion, run a marathon, spend more time with your kids or sort out your finances, watch an awesome sunrise?

Make a list of all the things you made happen this year. Chances are, you've done a lot more than you think. Remember, small victories are still victories.

3. Make Peace With Your Past

"If there is no solution to the problem, then don't waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don't waste time worrying about it." -- Dalai Lama XIV

It's likely that there are things that happened in 2012 that you'd rather undo, forget about or move on from. So, let's do that.

If you can fix a problem or remedy a situation, make a plan and get started. If you can't, what can you learn from it? Chalk it up to experience and start moving on. Pushing things aside or pretending they're not happening will bog you down later.

Make peace with your past, clear the deck, throw away old baggage and make room for what's coming.

4. This Time Next Year

So you've taken stock of 2012 and put it neatly and happily to one side. What now? The best way of working out what you want to do about 2013 is to visualize where you want to be with your life one year from now. Start scribbling ideas down... debt-free, promoted, have $10,000 in savings, bought my first home, took a trip to Europe.

Making this list will help when it comes to setting your goals, and will also be great to look at again next December, showing you what you've achieved and what still needs work.

5. Get Motivated

I make a list of motivating factors and look at it once a month. It's kept on my phone and helps me stay focused if I hit a rough patch. Here's my 2012 list to give you some ideas:

  • The ability to support my family and friends.
  • Being an equal to my partner.
  • Financial security.
  • Respect from my peers.
  • Helping my clients achieve their goals.
  • Travel!

Ask yourself what drives you forward, the reasons you get up in the morning. Consistently remind yourself of them and use them to make the things you want to happen, happen.

6. Put It Out There

What do you want? Whatever it is related to -- career, relationships, family, finances -- make a list and put it out there to the universe. Knowing what you want is critical to your success.

Don't think of this as a definitive list of goals that you must make happen this year. View it as a guide and let it evolve and be comfortable with only checking a few things off. You may find that at the end of next year your priorities have shifted anyway.

7. Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

Whatever you're looking to accomplish in the next 12 months, it's important to formulate a plan. Once you have a goal in mind, sit down and figure out how to make it a reality. Ask yourself questions like: Where can I get help? How long will this take? What are the costs? Who do I know that can assist me? What's my first step? Break things down into small, easily-achievable tasks and allocate completion dates if applicable.

8. Accountability And Support

It's not difficult for your good intentions to go out the window once the reality of January kicks in, but there are ways of preventing this. Put a note in your calendar to look at your goals and motivators at the start of each month, or stick them on the refrigerator. Reviewing them will help you stay the course.

Share your goals with someone you trust, and have them check in with you occasionally to see what progress you're making. You may even find that they have similar goals you can work on accomplishing together.

9. Reward Yourself

Setting career or fitness goals is great. So is saving money or finishing up projects around the home. But when setting goals and making plans, be sure to set aside time to indulge yourself and earn a reward or two along the way.

Lost 10 pounds? Get a massage or some new clothes. Exceeded your monthly savings goal? Take your partner or best friend out to dinner. It's okay to indulge a little if you've earned it.

Make time for your passions or for something new. Always wanted to play piano? Book some lessons. Tired of your golf clubs sitting unused in garage? Dust them off and get back on the course. It's a short year -- enjoy it.

10. Give Something Back

If you're going to dedicate time and effort to improving your own life, why not set aside a little time to help someone else. Volunteer work, helping out an elderly relative or neighbor, getting involved in your community somehow, even just donating to a charity you care about. In helping others, you help yourself.

Wishing you a healthy, Happy New Year! May it be your best yet.

-- Jamie Galloway

For more by Jamie Galloway, click here.

For more on New Year's resolutions, click here.

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