As we move into a new decade, you probably have already begun to compile a list of all the things you hope to accomplish in the new year. Perhaps you want to take the next big leap in your career: shoulder more responsibilities, achieve a more prestigious position, command a higher salary. Maybe you wish to embark on a journey toward better physical health and already have at your disposal dozens of healthy recipes to try. Maybe you have so many things you want to do that you are overwhelmed.
Because you are such a high performer, it is natural for you to want to do it all and feel that anything else would be cheating yourself. Unfortunately, when you force yourself to shoulder so many lofty goals at once, with no real sense of direction or balance, you risk losing your way early on and burning out. That is why your goal for 2020 should not be simply to check off a couple boxes on a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, you should aim for holistic growth and self-improvement–that is, an overall sense of betterment. Read on to learn what this holistic balance can entail and what you can do ensure that you are an even better version of yourself when the new decade rolls around.
Do Not Just Daydream about Getting Out: Attend the Live Events of Your Dreams
Recently at a professional conference, I spoke about how important it is for high achievers to surround themselves with people who share their enthusiasm: about doing good work personally, for the betterment of others, all while staying true to their values.
Too often, even the most capable people hold themselves back or overthink every move. Many of us suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Maybe you found yourself in such a position in 2019, more often than you’d like to admit: you frequently forewent attending conferences or networking opportunities you had looked forward to for weeks, months even, simply because something within you suddenly made the rash decision for you. Maybe it was self-doubt.
After all, you might have thought, what do I have to offer these superstars? Surely, they have no need for anything I might have to say. In fact, maybe my presence will stifle the energy they naturally teem with.
But then you saw the pictures your colleague posted to social media, maybe of herself with people you’d love to talk with enjoying a lively dinner. They were all dressed to impress, beaming confidently. I should be there, you’d say to yourself. So you beat yourself up for a while but then vow to show up next time, ready to mingle, knowing full well that when that next time rolls around you’ll have fashioned a new excuse.
Nothing to wear..
and that old faithful, ‘who would listen to me anyway?’
I implore you to make your 2020’s the decade of the live event–those opportunities of a lifetime that you long to attend, only to find yourself staring longingly at the well-to-do partygoers through a hazy camera-lit window. If you have an event in mind already, even better. Start making your travel plans now. Set the money aside someplace special, where you can see it and know exactly what it is for. Request that time off from work now. Register for the event, if that is what is required, and hold the registration confirmation information close. Do all of these “official” things so that this commitment is in fact official to you. That way, you are much more likely to hold yourself accountable as the date draws near.
Once you tackle that one big event, the next one will not seem so daunting. In fact, you will probably look forward to it. You can then work yourself up to attending another conference or meeting the following month, maybe two the next month. Before you know it, you no longer have to thrust yourself into these invigorating environments. They draw you to them, because that is where you belong.
Aim for Extraordinary Health But Not Perfection
Without fail, the New Year always brings with it a certain eagerness to shed unwanted pounds, to gain some muscle, and to get in better shape overall. People who decide to undertake such endeavors are usually pretty passionate about eating well and hitting the gym–that is, until it becomes clear that it takes some time to see notable results. After a week or two of stasis, many surrender to their frustration and give up altogether.
To keep yourself from this vicious cycle understand: you do not need to put a timeline on your health. There is nothing wrong with setting goals for yourself and having some idea of where you would like to be in, say, two or three months down the line. However, when you strike all-or-nothing deals with yourself, you risk sabotaging yourself from making honest efforts.
A year ago, I underwent surgery on my shoulder. Recovery was not necessarily easy. I learned that my old wellness routine just would not serve me as well as it had pre-surgery. Gone were the days when I could lift a couple weights and feel strong and mighty–nor could I regularly eat whatever I wanted and not bear the consequences in the form of weight gain. Sure, these were frustrating setbacks. But instead of giving up on myself simply because I could no longer maintain what was once my ideal strategy for wellness, I adjusted my personal concept of what health and wellness altogether. This meant revamping my diet and exercise routines. It also meant allowing myself the chance to rest when I needed it.
Bottom line: it is okay to stumble. It is okay to recognize when something does not work, or at least not the way it used to. The important thing is that you are ready to revise what does not work–and to keep revising until you establish a sustainable routine.
Set Some Time Aside for Yourself to Learn
When most people think of New Year’s resolutions, they instantly jump to the major accomplishments: the transformed body, the high-paying and rewarding career, the tangible accolades and the glory that comes with them. In sum, they think about the things that require a whole lot of grinding. And when they think of all the grinding they have to do, they become overwhelmed and lose steam. What they forget is that the pauses for self-reflection in between the sprints forward are just as important as the grind itself.
Rest assured: this does not mean that you need to slack off. Self-care and reflection can be exceptionally productive. Awhile ago, I talked with some colleagues about what some of the world’s most successful people do to achieve their greatness. One idea that came up was the “five hour rule.” The concept is pretty simple: you set aside five hours each week to learn. What you choose to learn is up to you. Maybe you want to read up on nutrition. Perhaps you want to learn how to invest in stocks or real estate. What you set out to learn is not as important as what you do with the information. Ideally, you will seek out knowledge that you can apply to your everyday life.
This would be a great opportunity to take up a new hobby or join a club. For instance, maybe you are really into learning French, or cooking nutritious food and want to try out a class, club or couple of new recipes. You can use those five hours to learn all you need to know about online language immersion, meditation, travel destinations or different techniques in the kitchen. Before you know it, you will have a wealth of knowledge you can apply to something you genuinely enjoy doing, something that leads to a more fulfilling life.
Don’t Just Get Serious about Your Finances; Get Specific
When you have control over your money, you can better focus on other things, like self-improvement. The problem is that people tend to be pretty vague when it comes to identifying financial goals for the new year. For example, you might declare that you aim to save more money. This is a completely valid goal, but it is not exactly concrete.
You need to consider not only how much money you want to save but what you want that money to go toward. For example, your goal might be to pay off a certain percentage of your student loans by the end of the year. Whatever your plan, just make sure that you provide yourself with the numbers upfront–to hold yourself accountable.
As you get more specific, additional goals may emerge. For instance, once you have decided that your goal is to save money, you might decide that the most feasible move would be to set aside 10% of your paycheck (after all your bills and expenses have been paid). From there, you might decide to contribute 5% of that to your retirement fund each month. Ultimately, it is up to you–so long as you quantify, quantify, quantify.
Build Your Career; Shape Your Identity
Finally, you might aim to be a more valuable employee or supervisor this coming decade. Maybe you have your eye on a promotion, or perhaps you are looking to change jobs or even fields altogether. While these are all worthwhile endeavors, sometimes we grow weary in our climb to the top. We become some worried about “losing,” that we feel compelled to wrap ourselves tight into our titles: Doctor, Manager, Chief Executive, and so on.
With this in mind, consider allowing yourself the opportunity to bloom both within and outside your professional environment. At work, assume your role. Attend to your duties, make the numbers, top the charts–but be willing to shed that part of you when you leave the office, at least once in a while. Outside work, be a mother. Be a wife. Be a painter or a reader or morning jogger.
In sum, do not be afraid to enhance every version of yourself this coming decade. Let’s start these 20’s off right! In all areas of our lives.
You Do Not Have to Go at Any of This Alone!
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About Dr. Toni A. Haley
Toni A. Haley, MD is a bestselling author, speaker, and certified executive coach for high performing women. She is also the founder and CEO of Williams Wellness Group. Dr. Haley is sought after by clients for her 25 years of experience in finance, healthcare, and wellness. Her proven strategies have helped hundreds of women break through personal and professional barriers, such as Perfectionism, Martyr Complex, and Imposter Syndrome. She is a proud alumna of Morgan State University and Ross University School of Medicine. Dr. Haley has committed her career to empowering women to achieve greater prosperity and wellness.