By Valerie Young
It’s estimated that roughly half of all people will make a New Year’s Resolution. No big deal right? But did you know that the simple act of making a resolution makes you ten times more likely to make achieve your goal? TEN times! It’s true. According to a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
Think about it… What if you knew that deliberately pledging to change course in 2007 that you could increase your chance of success tenfold? What if this simple act drastically accelerated your quest to say goodbye to unreasonable bosses, office politics, and alarm clocks, and hello to right livelihood, balance, and flexibility?
Well, you are about to meet some regular people just like you who have just increased their own odds of living life on their own terms. In the last newsletter I posed a simple question: “What kinds of things do you intend to do differently in 2007 to move closer to your dream of changing course?” I obviously hit a nerve because the resolutions are still pouring in. I heard from people in 30 states and 7 countries as far away as India. I wish I could include them all here. But that would take dozens of pages. So, I’ve selected just a few of the many New Year’s Resolutions to share here with you.
Naturally, people’s promises reflect where they are in the overall process of changing course. People who still don’t know “what they want to be when they grow up” made up their mind to stop, as one person put it, “pussyfooting around,” and be proactive about figuring it out. For Linda P. from Las Cruces, New Mexico, that means taking active steps to “find my heart’s desire and work to make it my life’s work.”
Then there are people who know exactly what they want to do. Like Al from Manchester, New Hampshire whose resolution is to establish his own business exporting used cars to Latin America. Resolutions for people like Al all come down to three little words: “Just do it.” In fact, I received many resolutions about putting a stake in the ground by making a concrete plan. “I may not be able to escape job jail in 2007,” said one person, “but the escape strategy will be implemented and well under way and the escape date will have been determined.”
Many people I heard from have already started down the path to self-employment. For them New Year’s Resolutions were about either formally launching or growing their business. For example, Lauren from Wisconsin says that, “in 2007 I will use my time wisely to market my very part-time freelance marketing communication business so by mid-year I can make it a full time gig.” That way Lauren says she can, “say good-bye to inflexible bosses, archaic policies, and having to rely on someone else’s decision whether I am good enough to move ahead in the world.” Another creative entrepreneur plans to “expand my business for Army wives to inspire them to be more and to teach them that they can have their own success while still supporting their husband.”
Some people’s goals are about cultivating and maintaining a mindset and a set of behaviors most conducive to success. For example, Kristi Butler writes from Los Angeles that her resolution is to, “not lose my focus. I will complete the goals I’ve set for myself. I will ask for help when I need to, so I won’t become overwhelmed. I will remember that whatever I do must make me happy or I won’t do it.”
Other resolutions reflected the seamlessness of personal and business goals. In the coming year S. Borzo of Des Moines, Iowa, promises to, “focus on seeing myself in spiritual, mental, physical, and financial abundance,” and to “see the world of people living in peace.” This “optimistic cheerleader for the efforts of others who courageously make small business tick in Des Moines” also plans to successfully launch her new “buy local” business which you can preview at DSMBuzz.com.
Some people simply want to continue on their current same healthy path. For example, in addition to the practical matter of staying focused on his current job “in order to pay-off all my debts,” fifty-two-year-old Rick from Vancouver, Washington plans to “continue to follow my ‘intuition,’ which has served me well in 2007, as I continue to rebuild my life after ‘losing it all’ at the age of 51, follow my path to great health and a confident outlook, explore my visions and further define the true ‘life I want to lead,’ and …continue to be in a ‘state of gratitude’ each and every day.
Many people wisely promise to take small, manageable steps. Writing from Center Valley, Pennsylvania, Marguerite plans to “set time a side each day even if it is 15 minutes.” By carving out this time to do things like complete specific online classes and get involved in the forums, Marguerite says she’ll finally be ready to start her freelance business so she can quit her current job and work for herself. Marquina Rawlings from Canton, Michigan says, “in 2007 I will face and embrace my fears and stick with taking one step at a time each day until I have the stamina to take on more of my dreams. I will identify what is fun for me and explore it eagerly and happily.” Adding, “I will make friends with people who have good vibrations.”
Likewise, Fiona from the UK promises to “stop procrastinating, take more action (in all areas of my life), and take the necessary practical steps towards creating a new reality…” For Fiona this new reality includes, “daring to dream, believing that a new life is possible, believing in me and beginning to set up a training/consultancy business.” One of the more intriguing resolutions also came from across the pond. Writing from Perthshire, Scotland, Jenni Johnston says that in 2007 her resolution is to, “be strong and to travel on my own to China and volunteer to work with pandas at Wolong Panda Reserve.”
For Anne Muse, 2007 is also all about action. This new resident of Las Vegas says:
“I have spent the last 25 years playing it safe, working at one mind numbing, soul altering, spirit crushing job after another… I realized yesterday, I am no longer that sassy, life-affirming, young woman whose inner fire lit up her eyes and I knew why. After 25 years of rarely being appreciated or valued I had instead became a quiet, reclusive, depressed drone… But in October 2006 I began to quietly, internally, turn my wounds into wisdom. It wasn’t until I read the Disraeli quote in your newsletter [“Most people will die with their music still in them”], that I figured out why... Despite all I had been through, I did not want to die with my music still locked up inside of me... I have several books to write and publish, as well as several business ideas that are brilliant and obviously something I am supposed to do – it’s my purpose, my reason for being here.”
Then there are people like Suzanne from St. Peters, Missouri who have learned the hard way that a dream deferred is a dream denied. Vowing to live life fully in 2007 and beyond, Suzanne writes, “I spent the last half of 2005 and most of 2006 fighting breast cancer. I won! I also spent the last year and one half assisting in the close of the company I work for. Yes, I found out about both the cancer and the closing in the same week. My last day of work is January 31. Based on what I’ve been doing this past year and a half, I figure I can somehow find the guts to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life, and DO IT.”
Wow! Are you as inspired as I am? Next to Anne, Suzanne, Jennie and all the others, my New Year’s Resolution seems pretty, well, dull. But then I haven’t had a heck of a lot of time to spruce it up for public consumption. Normally I take the week between Christmas and New Year off to relax from the blur of shopping, to “de-decorate” the house, and reflect on my goals for the coming year. But not this year. First off, I barely had time to drape some lights over my jade plant and slap a wreath on the door. So right off the bat that cut down on the de-decorating. The reason I didn’t decorate was what would normally be my holiday down time turned into pull-out-all-the-stops-and-work-like-a-dog time.
As those of you on the Fast Track Your Dream Priority List already know, I’m down to the wire on next week’s “launch” of the new Fast Track Your Dream program. So while you’ve been decking the halls I’ve been in major crunch mode! I’ve been telling you for a few weeks now that this thing is going to be big… and I wasn’t kidding.
I spent the last two weeks finalizing close to 700 pages of printed material, giving one final listen to ten 80-minute long CDs, preparing the curriculum for three different Tele-classes, finalizing dates with the guest speakers (prepare to be impressed!), and making sure all the early enrollment bonus items are in place.
Those who signed up to get the Fast Track Priority Updates already know that this is going to be a “high-touch” program designed to answer your individual questions. On my end though that means spending this week busily coordinating all the behind the scenes technical and scheduling issues so everyone in this new Fast Track Your Dream Community has a place to go to get all of your “how to” questions answered the Changing Course “Dream Team.” (If you’re curious it’s all in the Fast Track Update below.)
The point is, after quietly working on this program for over two years and then having this big push in the last few months, I, too, have decided to change course in 2007. As I write this newsletter a light snow is falling against the backdrop of a distant hillside. A new calf was born on Christmas day so now I get to enjoy two baby cows frolicking in the field next door. (I love cows!) I left my corporate job 11 years ago, I get to work at home, I do work I enjoy, and I get to experience the deep satisfaction of knowing that in some small way my work matters.
Life is good. But I want more…
So, my 2007 New Year’s Resolution is to work less and play more. To kick off my new resolution, I cashed in 250,000 Hilton points and for an upcoming vacation at a fabulous resort in Mexico. (Can you say siesta and cabana?) When I get back I’ll be starting a drawing class and hosting the first annual beat back the winter blues February cookout and charades party. And to emulate friend and role model Barbara Winter I vow to take full advantage of my self-bossing status by going to more matinee movies and taking Fridays off.
Apparently I’m not alone in my desire for less work and more play. Barbara just emailed me an article with the headline “Work-life balance tops global New Year Wish list.” According to ACNielsen more than half of consumers surveyed in 46 countries from the United States to Vietnam said they wanted work to play a lesser role in their lives in 2007.
What about you? Have you decided to make 2007 YOUR year to get the changing course ball rolling? If so, let me leave you with a question:
Three frogs are sitting on a log. One frog decides to jump off. How many frogs are left on the log?
If you answered one, two or none then go back and re-read the question. The correct answer is three. Why? Because the frog didn’t jump. It just “decided” to jump. We “decide” things all the time. We decide we’re going to get in shape, or get organized, or design our web site, or start on that screen play we’ve been carrying around in our head, or to work less and play more…
Don’t get me wrong. Most people spend their entire lives waiting to hit the lottery while their dreams shrivel and die. So actually deciding to take control of your life is, in and of itself, a huge step. And by actually making “changing course” your New Year’s Resolution you’ve already increased your chances of success tenfold. However, as Peter Drucker points out, “plans are only good intentions unless they quickly degenerate into hard work.”
Now you need to back up your intention with action. Is changing course scary? You bet it is. But as famous Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White succinctly reminds us, “action stops fear.” One final New Year’s Resolution from an anonymous reader is to “realize every opportunity in front of me and act upon it.” If you are looking for a roadmap, the tools, and the support that comes from being part of a community of active dream seekers, the Fast Track Your Dream Community is one opportunity you won’t want to miss out on.
About the Author
Outside the job box expert, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.