Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Happy New Year! What's your New Year resolution for 2019?

It is January 19th. Although I haven't completed my resolution, I am thinking about it everyday, paying attention to life's surprises, twists and turns. That reminds me of Christmas Eve 2018.

After celebrated with James' extended family in San Francisco, we left his sister's house around 11:30 p.m. The heavy rain earlier that day seemed to have stopped. There were almost no traffic in front of us. From the rear-view mirror, I could see headlights of cars still a distance away. I felt peace and calm of Silence Night as James and I enjoyed each other's company.

All in a sudden, I noticed a police car speeding into the freeway. Who is he going to chase? When the police car started to zigzag across the freeway from right to left to right to left ... I was alarmed. Something is wrong!

I slowed down and moved to the right-most lane, preparing to exit if necessary. From the rear-view mirror, I saw many cars rushing towards us. Will everyone slow down? I worried about being trapped on the freeway and I was scared of being rear-ended.

I wanted to immediately get off the freeway on the next exit, any exit. But I heard James' calm voice. "The police are trying to keep us safe. It is unsafe to be on unfamiliar roads in the dark. Just slow down and follow the traffic."

The police kept zigzagging until finally all cars stopped behind a barricade of police cars. I quickly took a picture. All we could do was to watch, pray and wait. Thank God that we did not have to wait for a long time. Life's ups and downs are not so scary when we have travel companions and sound advice!

As I am still pondering on what to do and what not to do in 2019, I can rest because I know God loves me and cares about me. How about you? What will you do differently this year? Here are some tips to proceed.

The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Changing the way things are done can bring opportunities for great success. But reaction to change may be fearful and irrational, which can result in failures, a decrease in quality and a loss of productivity and production. When it comes to family, work, business and ministry, it can be tempting to give in to those anxieties by doing what's always been done. But priming the pump to have a better year always involves some form of adjustment to free up the time, money and energy to tackle new opportunities.

How do you decide what changes are the most important ones to make?

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. What personal and business toleration interfered with your personal and work progress? Having to tolerate something or someone may mean you believe there is no choice, so you just bite your tongue and grind your teeth. Toleration is a good indication of issues in need of resolution.
  2. Were last year's goals reached? Why or why not? How will those obstacles be addressed? Setting new goals without having evaluated the previous year's goals can result in a cycle of substandard results.
  3. What fiscally responsible goal (e.g. making more money, collaborating, creating new products/services, improved marketing strategy, etc.) will also be fun? All work and no play make Jack a dull (and bored) boy, as the saying goes.
  4. How about relationship goal (e.g. rekindle your love, get along with your teenager, play with your kid, enjoy your family) that will bring joy to your life?
  5. Ask yourself questions about self-care (e.g. diet and exercise) and other areas of your life. Focus on what really matters in your life, when all is said and done.
What do you need to change to have a better year?

Choose passion over profit. 
Connect to your bigger purpose in life, work, business and ministry and the rewards will flow effortlessly. Passionate people attract success.

Higher learning. Technology changes fast. Staying on top of what's working now is only half the battle. Discovering what's up and coming and leveraging that knowledge is the key to an exceptional year. Are there something new that you could learn with your spouse, kids, friends and colleagues?

Celebrate success. Acknowledging and rewarding success keeps everyone motivated. Mark those mini-milestones with celebration and recognition!

Add, don't subtract. In business, when repeat clients stop buying your products or services, something needs to change. Instead of cutting prices, add value instead--bundle existing services/products, add bonuses or create new offerings. At home, when your family members are not talking to each other, something is wrong. Instead of pretending that all is well (e.g. "we never argue"), learn to listen attentively and talk assertively to engage them with respect and care.

What are your blind spots?

Every driver has blind spots. That's what rear-view mirrors are for. Blind spots in the family, church, work and business environment can be harder to identify. In a factory, how does a person avert disaster in a work environment without the benefit of mirrors? 

Ask around. Getting honest feedback from family and church members, clients, customers and service providers can be as uncomfortable as it is invaluable. Do it anyway.

Coffee time. Chat up a friend, family member, co-worker or colleague and encourage them to share their observations about what you are doing well and what needs improvement. Sometimes what needs to change is missed because it is so "obvious."

Seek professional help. Getting an objective outsiders opinion can help you see what is going well or not.

Moving into the New Year doesn't have to be a scary proposition. Having a clear sense of what's ahead can circumvent failure and create a successful year. Anxious of changing? Fear of taking risks? Try your best and leave the outcome to God.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  (James 4:13-15)

I'm not saying you need to change for the sake of changing. Just take some time periodically to take stock of your life. Let me know how I can pray for you. May the Lord show you His will, His way, and His timing in this New Year!
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications