Every beginning of a fresh year brings new challenges and opportunities. 2020 will never repeat itself, so how can you make it the best year you’ve had so far?
The answer is pretty simple, and you can accomplish whatever you set your mind on, by being determined to constantly use three powerful tools: having a personal vision, setting annual goals, and doing pre-week planning.
Steve Shallenberger: A quick message for you: We wanted to let you know that the Becoming Your Best 2020 Planner has arrived and, as you’re starting to set your sights on having an extraordinary year in 2020, this planner will be a tremendous resource for you. We want to let you know that, particularly this year, there is a big-time discount for you! They’re here, they’re ready to ship, so if you would like to get yours on the way, just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – you’re going to love this planner!
Welcome to our podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best, and what a delight it would be to be together with you today and just visit about the subject that we’re going to talk about. We thank you for joining us today! The title of this particular podcast is “A Fresh Start! A new beginning.” I love the end of the year and the beginning of a new year – to celebrate the good, your blessings, your accomplishments and to think about how this last year went is, really, quite extraordinary; to humbly count your blessings and give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts and at the same time to learn from your failures, successes, and mistakes, and create a fresh start and a new beginning. The new book is empty, ready to write the script to come and you’re free to create, to imagine, and innovate around what can be. Remember, the mental creation precedes the physical reality.
It was Henry David Thoreau that declared, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his or her dreams and endeavors to live the life which he or she has imagined, he or she will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” You may have experienced or are experiencing at this time, challenges, devastation, setbacks, loneliness, superstorms, including the unexpected and unplanned. Well, today represents a new beginning, a fresh start, a new year and a new decade, and regardless of the storm, you can approach your challenges and opportunities with a fresh attitude and perspective. A new day, a new year, and a new fresh start!
Maria Robinson said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make it a new ending.” You can design your future. Will there be setbacks? Of course! Will there be sometimes something that brings great anguish and indescribable pain? Sure! And sometimes you will get knocked down. You may fall 1000 times but you and I can get up 1001 times. Falling is normal and a painful part of life, but getting back up takes courage and it’s a glorious part of living! You learn, you grow, you have faith and hope, and you will conquer the foe, the setback, the challenge with the wonder and opportunity that lies in front of you. You and I can definitely get back up and face the challenge by turning it into an opportunity. Make the bad good, the good better, and the better best, with a determination to bring happiness, meaning, and purpose through your experiences.
So, what are some of the best ways to do that? I’ve always enjoyed the comment by astronaut Jim Lovell, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.” To be successful you need to be a person who makes things happen. So, how can you be that person that makes things happen? It really is a mindset, but it’s also a skill set. The mindset is to be determined – be determined that you will get up 1001 times plus, be determined that you will turn challenges into opportunities. This is a winner’s mindset! It is refreshing and essential for becoming your best. This morning I heard a song by singer Wilson Pickett, and it’s entitled, “Ninety-nine and a Half (Won’t Do)”. You will be most successful giving a 100% effort in this focus, and this comes from discipline and a steely determination. And you can do it!
Now, the specific skill set to do this, to create a new beginning, a fresh start, is to set or revise your personal vision, to put solidly in place your annual goals – by roles – and faithfully do pre-week planning throughout the year – a Becoming Your Best Planner will be a great help because it’s designed to lead you through this – and this allows you to consistently do your best each day to do the things that matter most. James Allen once said, “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”
Mark Twain, my great, great uncle shared this great wisdom: “The two most important days in your life are the day that you’re born and the day that you find out why.” This “why” can be captured in your personal vision and in your annual goals. I had the chance to meet Muhammad Ali one time – he shared this great quote, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” And it’s these affirmations that find themselves in your vision and can show up in your annual goals. As you think about this personal, fresh, new beginning, this transformational thing will take place through your vision, your annual goals, and pre-week planning.
Well, Henry Ford once said, “In this light, as we think about our goals, obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” And so, this is the power – being able to stay really focused on your personal vision and having an annual goal and doing pre-week planning. You are really powerful as you maintain that focus that helps you reach the target. Out with the old attitudes, feelings, and baggage and in with a new focus on the good, the positive, the meaningful and productive. These are the things that will win in the end; these are the things that will give you a winner’s finish. And by the way, it’s helpful to remember you are not in this alone. We can help other people along the way. Others are suffering and working on becoming their best. They’re having superstorms, and your example and your leadership can not only help you, but it can inspire and lift others along the way.
One interesting peculiarity about December 2019 is something that happens only once every 823 years. You may have heard about this, but it’s a great little interesting tidbit: there are five Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays in December 2019. Isn’t that interesting? It won’t happen again for another 823 years! Just as important as that is that you will never have another 2020 over again, ever. And so, how can you make it your happiest, your best year that will ever happen?
When Roxanne and I married, her sister, Sherry, sang the famous song from Fiddler on the Roof – Sunrise, Sunset. I love these lyrics because they’re going to put 2020 in perspective! It puts vision, annual goals and pre-week planning in perspective as it helps us to consistently do what matters most. Here are the lyrics:
“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he get to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
Well, this song goes on. It’s a wonderful song that helps kind of put in perspective what happens. The words to this song seem to ring so true! Now, that young couple that we were at that wedding reception has been married for almost 50 years!
The Principles of Becoming Your Best apply whether you are at the sunrise, sunset, or in the proverbial middle of the day of life – they never age, but can help you become your very best at any age. You are best as you continue to make them vibrant in your life and they will do the rest. The power is in the principles – it’s a seed that you plant, that will grow, and grow, and bring great fruit to you. They will bring you untold peace, happiness, health, and greater prosperity. That’s the mindset of what we can do.
So, what’s the skill set that gives you this fresh start, the new beginning? It is your personal vision, annual goals, and pre-week planning, which allows you to do consistently what matters most. And we’re not talking about New Year’s resolutions, here – which are abandoned by 85% of people by January 15th. We are talking about taking charge of your life and infusing deliberate thinking and direction, in a way, by writing down SMART goals and sharing them with a few people in your life and then reporting how you did being led by this vision which defines the direction and having a weekly process that causes them to come alive as you consistently do what matters most.
Mr. Henry David Thoreau said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.” To make a deep physical path, we must walk again and again; to make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. This is both a mindset and a skill set. Vision, annual goals, pre-week planning, walking the pathway over, and over, and over again of doing what matters most. They will create a deep mental path that leads to the best of life in the face of obstacles. Without leaps of imagination and dreaming you can lose this spark and excitement of possibilities in life. That’s why these three things are so important. They’ll help you overcome setbacks, discouragement, heavy burdens, and as you lead your life to happiness and success, because you have challenges, you will get to a higher point. With each sunrise, you are blessed with a new beginning. This is your choice to lead a life by design, and not live a life by default. You can take charge today.
A good example that illustrates this type of leadership, of thought, of discipline in the face of setbacks and adversity comes from the life of Thomas Edison. One day, Thomas Edison came home and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.” His mother’s eyes were tearful, as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius! This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself!” After many, many years, after Edison’s mother died, and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, one day he was looking through an old family drawer, through family things. Suddenly, he saw a folded paper in the corner of the drawer in the desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper was written: “Your son is mentally ill. We won’t let him come to school anymore.” It was the note that Thomas, so many years before, had brought home to his mom. Edison cried for hours, and then he wrote in his diary, “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”
You can let go the bad, you can forgive, you can decide to be more tender, to lower your voice, to abandon the negative and replace it all with an inspiring vision and direction of action, of goals and things that you will do this year, by each of your roles, kindness and focus, steely tough determination, discipline, light, and happiness. These are the qualities and characteristics that have produced the same results, year in and year out, century and millennium in and century and millennium out.
I love this quote by my friend, Norman Vincent Peale, who we had come train us many years ago: “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear.” Perhaps the action you take will be successful, and perhaps different actions or adjustments will have to follow, but any action is better than no action at all. I was so inspired by him! He wrote a book called, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. He came and worked with us when he was 84 years old – what an inspiration! I’ve never forgotten Norman Vincent Peale.
Thomas Jefferson said, “When the time for talking is over and those with courage take destiny into their hands, watch closely, because miracles happen often, and heroes are born in the blink of an eye.” This is what we’re talking about. It’s deciding to do this, to take these steps, to live, to move forward, to live a life by design.
One of my very favorite quotes that I’ve committed to memory was written by Edgar Albert Guest. It goes like this:
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
This is the spirit of the fresh start, the new beginning, that with an inspiring vision of everything that is true and right, that you feel within your heart that describes you in your life of where you want to be and how you want to treat other people and how you choose to live. Coupled with the annual SMART goals and consistent pre-week planning, doing what matters most will put you squarely in the Winner’s Circle. May it be so with you from this day forward. It has been such an honor visiting together today. I admire you! We admire you! We appreciate your efforts in all that you do. We wish you a grand New Year for you and yours. This is Steve Shallenberger from Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, leading people to high performance.