Preparing to Start a New Year
As 2019 comes to a close and a new year starts, many of us will start considering what we want to do in 2020. Resolutions, plans, plotting, become the go-to for the forlorn dancer who wants to do better but isn’t sure where to start. But how do you really work out what you really want to do? Now, I’m no expert in this field, but I’ve got some great tips and ideas that might help you get closer to staying on track in the new year.
1. Find your bigger picture for the new year.
Do you remember the old adage “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well, that’s where we start. It’s hard to know what tasks to focus on if you don’t know where you are heading.
Knowing where you are heading, what your bigger picture is, is a way of making sure that what you do serves a purpose in your goal. When you can see how what you are doing is adding up towards the bigger goal, then you are more likely to keep on track.
For example, your big goal / direction marker could be “Practise my dancing more in 2020.” It’s big, vague in the detail, but something that you can look back at the end of the year and say “I did that”.
2. What Is Stopping You?
You’re probably asking… why now? Why are we looking at what’s stopping me on my goal (practising dance) before we’ve even worked out what I am going to do?
Because if you don’t know what’s already stopping you from doing this goal, then you’re never going to overcome it!
Here’s your task.
- Get a piece of paper and a pen.
- Find a timer (before you spend 20 minutes searching, then 2 hours online shopping and then finally decide it’s too hard, the one on your phone is fine).
- Set it for 5 minutes (you read that right).
- Start the timer and write out everything that is stopping you from just doing your goal.
Don’t censor yourself. Write whatever comes out.
You may find that you don’t like the words that come out. Good.
You may find that truths come out that are unpleasant. Good.
But what if nothing comes out? Write the following words on the page “What is stopping me from achieving my goal of (practising dance) is” and then just keep on writing. By starting to make “marks” on the page, your brain jumps at the chance to complete the sentence. Which leads onto the next and the next.
By limiting our writing to 5 minutes, you are also ensuring that you don’t get the chance to beat up on yourself. These lines aren’t intended to put you down, they’re to be used as an objective view of what’s standing between you and what you want to do.
3. Review the list of stop points
Here is the hard part. Time to read the list.
Now, before you start, take a deep breath and I want you to put a star next to every item you can actually do something about.
These will be how you will make your goal a reality.
4. Converting stoppers to starters
Now that you have your big goal (Practise your dance), and your list of things stopping you, you will now change these over into “Points of Power”.
Let’s say the following points were the ones on your “things stopping me” list:
- Run out of time and energy during the day to do practise.
- I have no space to do my practice in.
- No idea what to practise.
- I find other tasks to prioritise (like the washing and social media).
Now we look at what we need to do to overcome them and make them powerful. From our example stoppers:
- Aim to get up 30 minutes earlier each morning and use that 30 minutes to do a drill / learn a choreography, or set aside the time directly after washing up after dinner before you turn the TV on.
- Take a look over your house, don’t think about what the “proper” use of the spaces are, think about what space is available. For example, my kitchen is a 2.5 x 2.5m near square open space, so it becomes “mummy’s dancefloor” (as my kids call it) which I find is the perfect space for ad-hoc practising.
- Make a list of all the things you would like to practise, and then just pick one to start. Roll a dice, random number generator – the process of selection is irrelevant, only that you’ve selected something is important.
- If your mobile phone/social media is a problem, then consider using an app to make things inaccessible, or if that seems difficult, consider logging out. The reminder that you shouldn’t be using an app by it prompting you to login is sometimes enough to kick you into doing something else. Keep up the practise and soon the phone will be a distraction you can ignore.
Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to overcome your stop points, now you can work out the steps
5. Now make your list of tasks/steps
So, with the big goal in mind, it’s now time to write up a list of steps or tasks that help you get over the hard part of getting started on your big goal. Think small and additive. That is – small achievable items that add up to something bigger.
For our example of practising dance:
- I’m going to get out of bed 15 minutes early in January on weekdays.
- In those 15 minutes, I’m going to do some simple warm-up stretches to get my body moving.
- From February onwards, I’m going to get up 30 minutes earlier than I do now.
- In February, I’m going to learn 1 new dance choreography on Wednesdays and stretch every other morning.
- In March, I’m going to drill on Mondays, and practise my choreography on Wednesdays and do stretches every other day.
You get the idea right? This is working monthly, I’d not suggest getting any more granular than weekly.
6. Celebrate your wins
Every time you do what you intended for that month (fortnight or week), reward yourself.
That way when you achieve the next change, you will feel good knowing that you’ll get a reward. The reward doesn’t have to be much. It could be spending a little extra at dinner one night, or even something as small as a “yay I did it!” post on your favourite social media platform (don’t discount the feel-good feeling of having your friends cheer you on!)
7. But what happens if I don’t manage to achieve anything I planned in the new year?
Just take a breath, let all the guilt and pain go and try again next month/fortnight/week. The point of using something like a month or a fortnight rather than days is that it gives you more of a chance to actually achieve what you’re planning.
Holding guilt that you didn’t do what you planned only works against you. So let it go. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a plan and plans are made to be changed.
If you find it carries on a while and you’re not getting anywhere, go back to step 1 and replan what you’re doing. Maybe the goal or what’s stopping you has changed and you need to re-align to your new path.
You can do this. I know it.
I didn’t read the rest… what’s the short version?
- Work out what your big huge goal is that is actually doable.
It can be vague, so long as you are able to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question of “Did I do that?” at the end of the year.
- Take a realistic view of what stops you doing this goal.
Take 5 minutes and write them down. Don’t censor yourself, just get them out on the paper. Start with the line “What is stopping me doing my goal is…” and let your brain finish the rest.
- Review those stoppers and work out which of them you can actually do something about.
- Change those stoppers into “Points of Power” that enable you to complete your goal.
- Use those points to set the actual tasks you will achieve each week.
- Celebrate every week completing those tasks.
- Don’t feel bad when it doesn’t happen. Just replan and move on.
So, now that I’ve given you my steps, give them a try, see if you can get the same success I’ve had in doing this in this new year. I’d love to hear how you go.