I used to storm into each new year with the hyped up optimism only the young and naive can bring.

By the time Dec. 31 rolled around, I would be chomping at the bit for that clock to strike midnight and mark a fresh start.

I’m not sure why I did this because I never set any goals and I didn’t establish any resolutions for this new cycle of days. Back then, as now, if I wanted to change something, I didn’t see the sense in waiting until some magical date to do it. If I wanted to change something, I just changed it.

Still, I expected that the new year would be a little different because…well… it was a new year! And everyone seemed to share my gusto or, more accurately, I shared theirs.

At some point I learned and accepted that in order for the new year to be different from the last, I would have to be different from who I was the previous year. I would have to think differently, act differently.

No, the world would not magically change for me. It would not bring me everything I hoped and dreamed for by my sheer will of wishing for it. No one was going to save me from myself.

Dammit!

So here’s a simple process you can follow to create real change at any point in time:
1. Get clear on where you are. What’s going well? What’s not going well? What decisions and behaviours have gotten you to this point?
2. Decide what and who you want in your life. List material things, experiences, relationships and feelings you desire to have. What do you want to fill your life with? What are your big dreams and goals?
3. Ask yourself who you need to become in order to have those things. How would the person who lives that life behave? What are that person’s core values? What habits have they developed? What activities do they fill their days with? What sort of people do they surround themselves with?
4. Mind the gap. Identify the areas you need to work on in order to become the person who has that life. What are the habits and behaviours you need to adopt to get from the life you have to the life you want to have?
5. Start making changes one at a time. If you try to implement a whole bunch of changes at once, odds are good that you’re going to get overwhelmed, start dropping balled and then just give up. Don’t let the monster of overwhelm take you out. Pick one new habit, behaviour or task at a time.
6. Be patient. If you expect big results right away, disappointment is sure to wiggle its way into your grey matter. Keep your eye on the prize and believe that the small and simple actions you take each day are getting you closer to your dream. Even if progress is slower than you’d like, you’re getting there faster than if you settle back into your old ways of being. Trust the process.

Now, I said this was simple. I didn’t say it was easy. This process requires you sitting down to do some thinking and dreaming and planning. You can do it all at once if you’re feeling ambitious (not recommended—see point #5) or you can break it down and do one step each day. Some steps—perhaps #2—might require some extra time, especially if you’re doing this for the first time.

With that in mind, my final simple recommendation is to block time in your calendar for this. As author Michael Hyatt says, “What gets scheduled gets done.”

Start this year by being the person who gets the important things done.

And if you struggle with any of these steps, reach out for help. You can schedule a totally FREE, no obligation 30-minute call with me to get the clarity you need and a strategy for moving forward.

To those of you NOT reading this in January of any given year:
If you’re reading this page in, say, June, remember that change can start at any time. The new year is an arbitrary fresh starting point our society has decided to give significance. Don’t let that stop you from making change TODAY. Let tomorrow or next week be your fresh start. Or even next month. I hear July is a great time to start new initiatives with its abundance of daylight.