January 13, 2023

Setting Yourself up for Success

Shailja Sharma

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January can be an exciting month that sets the tone for the entire year. It is a month of new beginnings. A month of possibilities. It is all about the way you choose to look at it. At the office, you may be settling back into the rhythm of your work life after a restful break. You may be looking forward to or dreading the new year ahead.

As you wish your colleagues a “Happy New Year!” and wonder if the new year will indeed be a happy one for you, remember that you have the power to make it one of the best years of your life. There are many people who go through life thinking that they are at the mercy of external forces. They blame the outcome of their lives on luck, destiny, genetics, a bad boss, a bad colleague, the economy, the weather, their location, their lack of qualifications, too many qualifications and so on. What they fail to understand is how much agency they have to shape their own lives. How you react to what happens to you, is where your power lies. What you choose to believe, is where your power lies. The choices you make on a daily basis, is where your power lies. Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over.

At work, you may have spent the tail end of last year reflecting on your business strategy and formulating your goals for the year ahead. You have probably spent many hours debating with your colleagues in strategy workshops. However, have you devoted the same time and energy to your life strategy?

If you truly want this year to become one of the most successful years of your life, it is time to press pause and engage in some introspection. Aristotle, the famous philosopher, said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Is your life really going in the direction you want it to? Is your life aligned with your deepest values? Do you feel fulfilled in your personal and professional life? Take this opportunity to give yourself a fresh start, set aside some time to reflect, and do a 360 audit of your life.


Do you really know who you are, what inspires and motivates you, what makes you happy and what your values are? Taking the time to engage in reflection can yield many insights that will help you to stop doing the things that no longer serve you and start doing the right things that will build the future you desire.

January is a great time to start a journal. The act of writing down your thoughts is not only cathartic; it also helps you to start getting to know yourself. Journaling is an extremely powerful tool to help you crystallize your ideas and track your progress. There are many journaling prompts that are available online that can start you off on this new inner journey that will help you sift through your thoughts to get to the core elements of who you are as an individual and what really matters to you.

Human beings are led by their values and beliefs, whether they are conscious of them or not. Understanding the core beliefs you hold and questioning any assumptions you may have can help you to understand what drives you, and how you perceive the world. There may be limiting beliefs that are holding you back. There may also be a conflict in the values you believe in and the way you are living your life. This could be the source of discontent in your life that you could never quite put your finger on before. Fulfilment and joy in life come when we are acting in alignment with our values, and when our beliefs are working for us, rather than against us.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you currently playing to your strengths? What are your dreams? Are you happy with your job, finances, health, relationships, spiritual life and lifestyle? Is your life unfolding the way you hoped it would? If the answer to any or all of these questions is no, it is time for you to make a change.

However, before you can make a change, you must believe you can. It is possible to change anything or everything you do not like about your life, if you are willing to embrace discomfort. Remember, you have tremendous creative power. You are the author, artist, and engineer of your life. You can create the life you desire. Accept that power and take full responsibility for it. Change is uncomfortable, but if you stay in your comfort zone you will not only remain stagnant, you will shrink.

Set up your Vision Board

One of the most powerful creative tools at your disposal is the vision board. A vision board is a visual representation of your goals. This board can range from a humble cork board tacked with images and text that represent the life you want, to a virtual board with all the bells and whistles. The board should inspire and excite you. It can help you visualize achieving your goals. Many high performing athletes and leaders use visualization to improve their performance. You can use images from magazines, the internet or Pinterest. Whether you are using a physical or digital canvas, make it powerful. Looking at it should elicit powerful emotions. Vision boards work as a compass to help you prioritize your actions. What you focus on expands. You will also begin recognizing opportunities and resources that were blind to you before because you were not focusing on what you want out of life.


Another important aspect to consider is your self-image.  Self-image is how we see ourselves in relation to every aspect of our lives. This can make or break you. We are often our harshest critics. You cannot out-perform a poor self-image. One of the fundamental truths about human beings is our need to act consistently with our self-image. If you hold limiting beliefs about yourself, it will be impossible for you to succeed no matter how hard you try. Even if you experience some success, you will inadvertently sabotage yourself.

To begin to change or expand your self-image, do something you have never done before. Embrace the discomfort. When you succeed, your capabilities will expand and your self-image will begin to change. Let go of limiting beliefs. Working with a coach can help you to root out limiting beliefs and help you improve your self-image.

Setting up the Right Habits

Human beings are typically creatures of habit. Choose your habits carefully because they decide your future. Make a list of all your current habits and decide which ones you need to swap for healthier habits. You can also stack habits, for example when you drink your green tea in the morning, read something inspirational. It takes approximately twenty-one days to make a habit part of your routine. Habits help you to build consistency. You become what you repeatedly do.

Embracing the fundamental elements articulated in this article will help you to set yourself up for success. Remember, if you think you can, you are right, and if you think you cannot, you are also right. So, get into the driving seat of your life and make things happen.

Article by Shailja Sharma, Faculty Member and Leadership and Career Coach

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