I know, I know … can it really be your best year? Can it be mine? I don’t know the future but I know I can take some positive action right now and into January to make it the best year it can be whatever happens.

We don’t have control over all the pieces, say it with me now “We can only control ourselves”. And health and grief can certainly throw wrenches into aspirational goals like having the best year yet! So be it. Let’s explore specific actions you can take that will make a difference for you moving forwards.

In no particular order (this is a menu, not a to-do list!)

photo of planner and writing materials

Plan Ahead

It’s hard to make anything great if you don’t have a picture of what “best” is going to look like. If you can identify your jams and bottlenecks and take positive action ahead of time often the challenges are minimized.

When you budget you know how much training you can afford and how much showing you will be able to do if no unexpected expenses pop up. (We all know they will but we can pretend they won’t).

Planning will always need to be flexible and adapt to our ever-changing human condition but investing a little front end will make a huge difference to thriving vs surviving.

I need to sit down and get planning myself in fact as I am very much in survival mode right now! How will I do that you might ask? Well, I’ll pull out a pad of paper and jot down goals for each quarter. I’ll work to use a mix of outcome and process goals and decide what I need in my energy triangle (time, money, physical energy) to make each happen.

Once I have a bit of a framework in place I’ll pull up my Digging Into The Year Workbook and start really breaking down the steps involved in turning plans into action and making this year a great one!

Establish a Gratitude Practice

Oh this one is my personal go-to each and every day. After over 10 years of conscious work on it (just in my blog alone the first reference I can find to my practice is 2009!) I still have to force myself to implement it when I find myself in a foul mood.

Science absolutely backs up my belief that gratitude is a foundational block to being your best self and having a great journey through life.

Finding time and space for reflecting on and appreciating the little things that can add up to being more grateful can be tough though and that’s why I developed the Gratitude Project 5.0 Link (which is a daily email sent at a variety of times to your inbox with various prompts and thoughts about gratitude) as well as the Joy Day Workbook with the amazing Sheila Gibbons.

If you are finding gratitude difficult at any given moment – have a look at your hand. Count on your fingers as you run through – a person (of any species!) you are grateful for, a life learning that helped you become you, something you can see right now that you are glad for, a song you appreciate, and a food or drink you appreciate.

Some days that is more challenging than you’d think – so on those really hard days pick one sense and then attach something you are grateful for to it. This morning I walked out to the barn unhappy it was winter and realized I was focusing on the negative, so I thought about the gentle touch of snowflakes on my cheek and how lucky I was to know that feeling. It didn’t turn me into a ball of joy – but it helped!

Work to establish a touchstone place or time (or both) to practice gratitude – many of my students report waking up and falling asleep as times that work well for them. When I lived in an urban setting and much of my life was chaos and gloom I used red traffic lights as a chance to contemplate being grateful.

Now as I walk up to the house for the last time from the barn I pause and think about what I am grateful for. Sometimes the thought is passing and superficial, sometimes it is very reflective and deep. Both count.

Stop Being a Victim

It’s so easy to be the victim. And all too often you may be but the issue is that if you let that become the story in your head it becomes far too easy to accept that as the reason for anything and everything going wrong. Life can be full of suck far too often but the bottom line is feeling like a victim is not going to help you move forward into the life you want to be living.

If you are really struggling and can’t even think of what tools to use to help turn off the narrative of being a victim you may want to sign up for Tools for Tough Times – it’s an overview of a number of different strategies to help you focus forward and past the hard stuff.

On a related note accepting the “It’s not usually about you” mindset can help move forward away from feeling like a victim. People are going to people. Sometimes we get caught in their chaos. We don’t need to.

Take Better Care of Your Body

A little ironic as I grab a handful of jujubes to munch on as I write this section perhaps but it is a pretty fundamental belief of mine (well backed by science) that if you take care of basic things – like eating and sleeping well and getting some physical and mental exercise in you will be happier and better able to maintain composure in the face of stress.

There will be days you won’t sleep well, or times you fill up on food you might not chose to – or whatever. Putting together some strategies to identify areas of self care that need work is wise. Make sure your environment, and habits are conducive to good practices for each of these and see if you can connect with an accountability buddy or two and work in these areas is usually a little easier.

I have some work coming your way on these key concepts – so stay tuned for my usual step by step break downs for sleep, eating and exercise if any one of them happen to be a particular challenge for you!

Stop Procrastinating

Just do it. So easy to say. Much harder to do sometimes. That said I work very hard to create habits for getting stuff done and also make a concerted effort to do things when they appear on my Do List so I don’t have to think about them for ONE second longer than I need to.

You are totally not alone if you are a procrastinator though – my course will give you lots of strategies to get action happening! Effortless Action: The Course

Make Mindful Use of Your Time

You’ve got 8,760 hours this year. Take full advantage of as many of them as you can … understand how you use them.

Know what you would like to do with them. Decide how you are going to invest in yourself and what successes you want to focus on. Applying the principles of mindfulness to time management results in winning – in whatever domains success matters to you.

For me it’s not about the ribbons so much right now it’s about enjoying life and having time to do the things I value – but if ribbons are your current measure of success being mindful about time is equally important!

Face Your Fears

Believe me, when I say I am all about doing Ostrich moves* when you need to. If you need to focus on survival and that means some couch surfing, eating Ramen and self-medication options Mom might not approve of so be it.

That said fear is a powerful block. It can prevent us from seizing opportunities, setting boundaries, and moving towards or away from relationships that are good or bad for us. Change is hard, our primitive lizard brain is well-wired to hate change and fight it in any way it can think of but change is also going to happen to us.

Facing fear is frightening in and of itself, figuring out how to move beyond it and into the change can feel impossible particularly if your network is not supportive of the change, or not strong at the moment.

If you are really feeling fearful, inadequate and out of sorts check out this previously recorded webinar, it got rave reviews for a reason!

black and white ostrich on brown grass field

*Ostrich move – sticking your head in the sand pretending everything is FINE, just FINE.

Get Help

And finally, Get Help if you need it! I have 1:1 coaching available and will launch a group coaching model in early 2023. Working with me can be via zoom calls, or via a private online space for writing back and forth and sharing learning.

Also, check out my webinars and podcast guest appearances for some free relevant help to make this year YOUR year in every way. If accessing any of the things listed is a challenge for you for whatever reason please don’t hesitate to reach out!