Written by: Tommy Newberry
Imagine it is December 31, 2008. Envision yourself having already accomplished your most important goals. Imagine taking your life and faith to a whole new level. Imagine a close, fun and fulfilling marriage with your wife. Picture yourself spending more quality time with your children. See yourself working from your strengths and making a quantum leap in your career.
How does it feel to have already achieved these goals? Who helped you get there? What are you most grateful for having accomplished?
Now come back to the present, to the end of 2007. Looking forward, what do you desperately want to see happen in your life in 2008? Think about it. What has to happen, both personally and professionally, over the 365 days for you to be authentically delighted with your progress?
Complete this visualization exercise before you read the ideas I list next that have been helpful in launching my clients into their best years ever. Before you read any further pause for a moment. Ask God to intervene and inspire you with the right goals for the coming year. Then commit to making the next year your best ever. Resolve to do everything within your power to outperform your previous best year. Share this important decision with your wife or an accountability partner, and then take action now. As you do these things, keep this truth in mind-tomorrow changes today.
Clean the Slate
To get ready for a great year, first let go of the junk from the past. Start by forgiving others without exception-and mean it! Forgive everyone for all the silly, spineless, nutty, nasty, gutless, cruel, spiteful, harmful and insensitive things they’ve ever done to you. Never let an old wound fester. When you carry around bitterness you get stuck in the past and cannot possibly experience the best year of your life. Your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health depends on your becoming a perpetual forgiveness machine.
Next, you guessed it, forgive yourself-and mean it! This might make forgiving others seem easy. However, it’s imperative to forgive yourself, without reservation, for your stupid choices, inappropriate thoughts, limiting words, foolish behaviors, negative beliefs and all the other self-defeating things you’ve ever done. And don’t expect to feel different instantly. The emotional blessing often lags behind the actual act of forgiveness. Just accept God’s grace and restoration. Leave the junk behind so you can make room for the joy. Starting now, forget your failures and relive your joys.
Define the Destination
Goals tell your brain what to pay attention to. With vague goals or no goals at all, your brain becomes overwhelmed and your efforts are diminished. Lack of clarity is a root cause of underachievement and dis-contentedness. Most people spend more time planning their weddings and vacations than they do their marriages and lives. The result is a lot of beautiful wed-ding ceremonies and picturesque vacations and many miserable couples and distressed families.
The more precise and measurable your goal, the more likely you are to attain it. There are some uncontrolled variables in life. You were born. That was not your choice. You have no choice about dying, either. What you do in the interim, however, is largely up to you. An extraordinary life is simply the accumulation of thousands of efforts, often unseen by others, that lead to the accomplishment of worthwhile goals. Although you cannot instantaneously arrive at a new destination, you can establish your goal and proceed in the direction of your dreams. This seems like common sense, but it is hardly common practice. Less than 5 percent of the population establish goals at all, and only about 1 percent has written goals covering the main priorities of life.
Your potential for personal effectiveness is limited only by your ability to fully crystallize what you want, why you want it and exactly how you’re going to get it. Here are some questions that will help you pinpoint your goals for 2008: Do you want to strengthen your relationship with Christ? Do you want to get leaner and healthier in the next year? Do you want to connect at a much deeper level with your wife and children? Do you want to develop your strengths at work? Do you want to be in a stronger position financially?
Presuming you answered “yes” to at least a few of the questions above, what is your plan for achieving these things? If living at a higher standard was as simple and straightforward as it might appear, you’d already be there, right? Consider how many people you know who make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, it’s not too long before this hollow ritual repeats itself once again. Statistics reveal that virtually all resolutions fall apart before February. After working with thousands of clients over the years, I know that New Year’s resolutions do not work, but real goals do.
The presence of a thoughtful, written plan for each of your goals is the clearest evidence that you are a committed participant in your own future, that you are determined to make a difference. If you want your future to be different, you must make things different in the present.
Planning really means evaluating your life in light of where you’ve been, where you are now and where you intend to go. With a carefully crafted plan you distinguish yourself from those who merely wish for more joy, passion and success. Planning is the deliberate act of pulling the future into the present so that you can do something about the future right now. Remember�tomorrow changes today.
Find Mental Nutrition
To experience your best year ever, it’s critical to feed your mind with positive mental nutrition. Positive mental nutrition is the productive input that comes from what you read, watch and listen to on a consistent basis.
To have a healthy body we know we must eat the proper quantity and variety of nutritious foods. We know we must drink lots of pure water. We know we must exercise our hearts, lungs and muscles. We know we must take high-quality supplements, and get ample sleep as well.
But what can you do to achieve a healthy, disciplined mind? How do you stay mentally fit?
Most people take a very casual and reactive approach to what they are feeding their minds. When you put garbage in your body, you pay the unpleasant short- and long-term consequences. Similarly when you allow garbage into your mind, you clog your potential for joy, satisfaction and lasting success.
Everything you read, watch and listen to impacts your character and behavior. To make 2008 your best year ever, deliberately immerse yourself in wise, inspiring and uplifting thoughts. Avoid gossip, complaining, condemning, criticizing and blaming, as well as those individuals who engage in it. Make the most of inspiring opportunities that come your way and surround yourself with positive material.
I’ve dedicated a shelf on my book-case to about 50 books that all have one- to three-page chapters. Each of these short chapters is like a healthy mental snack.
Often, I’ll sit in my leather chair and munch on these inspiring ideas. I’ll mix a few of my favorite classics with a couple of new releases to keep my diet well-balanced.
Twelve months from now, your marriage, family life, health, friend-ships and finances all will be colored by what you’ve been feeding yourself. It can be your best year yet. Tomorrow changes today! NM
Tommy Newberry is the author of The 4:8 Principle and Success Is Not an Accident, both from Tyndale House Publishers. Visit him online at tommynewberry.com.
This article “Seeing Your Potential” written by Tommy Newberry is excerpted from New Man magazine a Nov/Dec 2007 edition.