If you’re like most people, you’re probably ready for this year to end and looking forward to a fresh start in 2022. Perhaps you’ve thought about what your career might look like in the years ahead, and considered a new role, or even entertained the notion of striking out on your own.
Now is the best time to envision your future, but success won’t happen on its own; you need to create it intentionally. Here’s how:
Define what it looks like
Success means different things to different people. Some dream of starting their own business, some hope to change industries, and others want to move up the ladder. Before you can create your dream future, you have to know what that looks like. Clarity demands specificity: you can’t develop a roadmap if you don’t know where you want to go. And be sure you’re chasing the dream that’s right for you right now, not someone else’s narrative about what’s best for you or an outdated goal you held long ago. The more thought you put into knowing exactly what you want your successful future to look like, the more easily you’ll be able to achieve it.
Explore why you haven’t already achieved it
It’s easy to blame external forces when you’ve fallen short of your goals, but what prevents your progress is internal. Fear—of failure, success, and what others may say or think about you, or believing you’re not worthy of such a lofty ambition—can hold you back from pursuing your dreams. However, when you’re honest about why you haven’t already achieved your goals and acknowledge your fears, you lessen their power and remove a barrier to success.
Make a plan
If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Reverse engineer your success by mapping out the strategies, tasks, and behaviors you need to employ to help you realize your dreams. And consider that it may not just be adding new things to do but also removing behaviors, mindsets, and people who’ve been holding you back. If someone or something is preventing your progress, let it go to make room for a more supportive entity.
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Prioritize and schedule time to work on it
It sounds simple, but it’s worth repeating: if you want to achieve your goals, you must make time for them. Prioritize and carve out non-negotiable space every day to work on your goals, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Protect this time by scheduling your calendar sessions to keep your needle-moving activities front and center and before anything else.
Ask for help with it
The road to success is not traveled solo. If you want to get ahead, you’ll need to enlist the help of coaches, mentors, and colleagues who can make introductions, offer suggestions, and serve as a sounding board on your journey to success. It’s especially helpful to solicit assistance from those who are doing what you hope to be doing and can provide lessons learned and best practices. Most people are happy to help and enjoy being of service, but they can’t do that if they’re never asked.
Make it public
It’s one thing to write something down in a private journal or tape it to your office wall where only you will see it; it’s quite another to speak your intentions out loud to another person. Will this make you feel vulnerable? Probably. But sharing your goals with someone and acknowledging their existence will make them real—and help you stick to them. You can even ask the person with whom you shared your dream to act as your accountability partner, regularly checking in with you on your progress.
Don’t just think and talk about it; take consistent action
Ruminating on what you want won’t make it so; taking action will. The first step is often the hardest, but action begets more action. Once you begin, the power of momentum can keep you moving. And while there is no shortcut to success, it’s the small actions, done consistently, that matter most and will lead you there.
Track your progress and celebrate the small wins
No matter how small, any step forward helps you move closer to your desired future. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae and forget to pause and reflect on your accomplishments. Logging your progress helps remind you how far you’ve come and what’s left to do. As a bonus, the next time you’re feeling a bit defeated, refer back to your notes to give you a much-needed boost of motivation and encouragement.
Remember, the best way to have a successful future is to create it intentionally.