Five Ways to Navigate Your Year as Smoothly as Possible

Imagine this:

It’s a new year.

You’ve set some goals.

You have the same busy life you had last year.

You’re confident you can make progress on those goals and intentions … as long as nothing in your professional or personal life gets bumpy or goes sideways.

Now it’s almost the end of January and …. when will the universe, not to mention the humans in my life, make it just a little easier for me to focus on my goals?!!!

I’m guessing it’s not a big stretch of imagination. 🙂

With rare exceptions, this is the way of the world. Bumps are part of life, things don’t always go as planned, our goals and desires are ours (not anyone else’s), and we don’t control the universe or the other humans inhabiting this planet with us. (I frequently have to remind myself of this!)

This isn’t a pitch to stop setting goals or to simply let life carry you along. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Goals are valuable. They help you become the person you want to be, put you on a path of learning and growth, and support you in creating what you want in your life. But when goals become an all-or-nothing proposition – black and white, success or failure – you’ve set yourself up to never start, quit too soon, and end up feeling worse than if you’d simply started the year without them.

Whatever’s on your goal list this year, here are five suggestions to help you stay on track, get back on track if you derail, and navigate your year as smoothly as possible.

1. Focus on the “er”

All goals come with some kind of change: habits or patterns, learning new skills, doing something differently, etc. (If no change was required, it wouldn’t feel like a goal, but rather “just” a thing to do.)

And change is all about “ers” …

… clearer, calmer, happier, faster, healthier, closer to a new job, organized-er, confident-er, focused-er (I know those last three words don’t really end in “er,” but in this case they do), or whatever change or goal you’re working towards.

Each week that you’re a little more “er” than the last, you’ve made progress.

Aggregate enough “ers” – today I’m calmer than I was yesterday, which was calmer than last week, which was calmer than last month, which was calmer than six months ago – and you’ve created substantial sustainable change.

2. Exercise your courage muscle.

If something is big enough to feel like a goal, it usually means meaningful progress requires you to stretch out of your comfort zone. And that requires courage.

The more you practice courage, the more capacity for courage you’ll have.

3. Ask for help. 

Yes, it can feel uncomfortable and vulnerable to ask for help. But in fact, it’s a sign of strength and an opportunity to practice getting out of your comfort zone.

Everything is easier with help, goal-related and otherwise.

4. Carve out time for reflection.

Change is the result of hundreds, even thousands, of tiny choices and actions.

We get better through practice and awareness of those choices and actions. That’s what “er” is all about.

And we make even more progress when we combine practice and awareness with reflection.

Sit quietly and reflect on your choices and actions, write in a journal, voice-record your thoughts … whatever works best for you. Consistency is key; perfection isn’t required.

Yes, in a perfect world you’d have a daily reflection practice. But if that’s not viable in your world, five minutes a few times a week will make a difference.

5. Recharge daily. 

If your reaction is “Are you on crack?!!! Every. Single. Day?”, take a breath and stay with me for a minute. 🙂

This isn’t self-indulgent or selfish, nor does it have to be time-consuming.

One minute of conscious breathing three times a day works wonders. So does a five-minute walk, a 10-minute chair massage, a short meditation, or a few minutes outside gazing at the stars.

Recharging daily, instead of waiting till you’ve hit burnout, creates greater capacity for patience, resilience, persistence, grit, and the ability to navigate the inevitable bumps and obstacles smoothly.

“Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Jack Kornfield