Want To Make This Your Best Year Ever?

I’ve found that the secret to achieving great things in life is to start simple. You can start by setting goals for yourself, but it’s really not just limited to setting goals. It’s also about making the changes in your life that are going to help make your future better.

There are three things that are necessary to achieve change — and those three things are desire, intent, and persistence.

As every small business owner knows, if you’re not having fun and enjoying your work, it’s tough to stay motivated. And if you’re not feeling motivated, it’s nearly impossible to grow. The same is true for résumé writers and career coaches. And it’s especially important for us to be motivated, because our clients depend on us for support, encouragement, and motivation.

Too many career industry professionals simply “exist,” working hard day after day, without ever loving their business, and sometimes even coming to resent the very things they used to enjoy. Maybe you still look forward to your day-to-day tasks, but have trouble achieving your goals — or even knowing what your goals are. Your résumé writing business feels boring or stagnant, and you can’t seem to reach that next level.

Whatever level you’re at, whether you’re in love with your résumé writing business today or not, the only sure-fire way to make the next year your best year ever is to spend some time reviewing your wins, setting new goals, and planning your strategy for the coming months.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s easy — and can even be fun.

Most important, it works. Research shows when you write down your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, conducted a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

For a couple of years now, Susan Whitcomb has been speaking on the topic of brain-based success strategies, using neurological research to explain motivation, and she uses it especially how that impacts jobseekers. The late physician and neuroscientist, Paul MacLean, theorized that the human brain actually is three brains in one. It consists of the reptilian brain, the limbic system, and the neocortex — and each part of the brain corresponds to a different stage of human evolution. While they’re connected to each other, they also each act independently and sometimes contrary to one another.

The reptilian brain is the instinctive part of us — the part that controls our breathing and our heartbeat and our bodily functions — and it works without conscious input from us. It just repeats behaviors over and over again because its goal is to preserve our life at all costs. On the downside then, the reptilian brain never adapts and it never learns. It’s just purely instinctive.

The second brain is the limbic system, which is our “emotional brain.” This part of the brain handles our feelings and our instincts and our behaviors. This is where we decide whether something is a good idea or not. However, the emotional brain is very simplified as well. It understands things as pleasant or fun or painful or bad. So in the simplified sense, it’s leading us toward pleasure and away from pain. So when it senses danger, that emotional brain tells us “Run! Run!” and unfortunately, also fears things that are unknown to it. So something that’s new to the emotional brain might be classified as danger instead of an opportunity.

The third brain is the neocortex — and that’s our thinking brain, and this is what sets humans apart from other mammals. It’s the part of our brain that’s capable of reasoning. And the thinking brain is where we decide that we want to do something differently. However, as we talked about with the other brains, the reptilian brain and the limbic system are sometimes at odds to your thinking brain wanting to make a change. That’s why — in the past — you may have found yourself almost sabotaging your desire to do something differently, because your emotional brain is overriding what your thinking brain wants to do.

So one of the most important takeaways I want you to have from this program is the importance of motivation in goal setting. If you are honest with yourself, you would probably admit that some of your goals and dreams and aspirations have fallen short of what your intentions were, and the reason why is because what we want and what we actually do are sometimes worlds apart. Again, that’s something that has to do with those three brains. Sometimes we’re at war with ourselves. What we think we want isn’t actually what we want. And even when we think we know what we want, the reason why we want it isn’t enough to get us to do things differently.

So motivation is a key element. You need to find your motivation for wanting to make the change. This is sometimes referred to as “the big why.” Why do you want to do it? And if you don’t know that, you’re going to have a hard time achieving your goal — because your motivation needs to be big enough to overcome the resistance that you’re surely going to face as you work toward your goal.

You can find your motivation in the form of a “positive purpose.” What is the lifestyle that you want to create for yourself? Possible positive purposes might include “to make a meaningful contribution to the world,” or I know this is a big thing for a lot of us as resume writers — “having a better work and life balance” — that’s a big one, or maybe “enjoying your work more” or “to be an inspiration to your kids.” All of those are possible positive purposes. What is going to motivate you to make the change that you want to make in your life? That’s an important question to ask yourself, because every choice that we make precludes something else from happening. In other words, we always give something up to get something else, and so that motivation has to come first — because that’s where you’re going to get the discipline to follow through on your dream.

Without that motivation, it’s easy to self-sabotage. It’s only natural, as human beings, that we tend to avoid things that cause us discomfort or worry or anxiety or even possible harm, and we also want to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable. We look at situations we come across based on our knowledge of how to react to various scenarios. And sometimes how we approach a new situation is colored by a similar experience we had in the past. What I mean by this is if you really want to make a change, you have to address your fear of what’s going to be different. Change can be exciting, but it also can be scary, and if you had a bad experience with making a change in the past, it can be even scarier to try it again — or even to try a different kind of change; it doesn’t even have to be the same sort of scenario. If you had a bad experience with trying to achieve some goal in the past and it just kind of beat you down, it can be hard to get the motivation to want to try something new again.

For example, if you think about the lifestyle changes that accompany weight loss or a plan to stop smoking, you might have a great “why” motivator for these goals, but you also probably have a reason that you’ve been unsuccessful in achieving this goal in the past. You might have some overweight friends who you enjoy hanging out with, and food might be a big part of your shared experience with them. Maybe you have friends who still smoke, who might feel resentment about your new smoke-free status. So it can be useful to examine if your lack of success in the past could be related to a certain mindset.

But I don’t want you to get too caught up in the “whys” of your current behavior. Instead of trying to figure out why you are the way you are, I want you to think about the person that you want to be. The exercises you'll work through in this program will help.

But before you can set your future path, it helps to look at where you’ve been.

Let’s get started!

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