Preparing for the 2020s: How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the New Decade
Ah, that sweet new year energy — the turn of the year, not to mention the turn of a decade, is an excellent time to reassess our lives and make positive changes for the future.
But while so many of us think of new year resolutions as “going to the gym three times a week” or “cutting out white bread”, what if we chose to use this energy to holistically define what we want our lives to look like going forward?
This article is a list of “food for thought” items that can help you find success in the new decade by taking a deep dive into understanding yourself, reflecting on your relationships with others, and getting clear about your goals and visions for the future.
Ready for an exciting decade? Let’s dive in!
Step 1. Define Your Values
Whether you’re a business owner, employee, friend, or just a person existing on this planet, it can be extremely beneficial to clarify and live by your core values.
In short, values are the tenets of life that we stand for. They define us as individuals, guide our behavior, determine our priorities, and are essentially how we measure success in life (but more on that in a second.)
Values are basically our own personal codes of conduct, and studies have shown that standing by our values helps us experience fulfillment and personal strength. Meanwhile, the same studies have shown that when we don’t stand by our values we experience suffering and discontent.
This list will give you literally hundreds of core values to draw inspiration from, but it’s important to really sit down with this list and be as honest as possible with yourself about what your values are.
Here are some groups of common core values to help get you started:
· Hard Work
Step 2. Define What Success Means for You
I’m going to get a little personal here, so bear with me.
Growing up, I always thought of success, or being successful, as having a fancy job in a fancy building with a fancy desk. I never really thought about what I would be doing at this fancy job, only that it was important for others to see my wins.
Then, when I entered my 20’s and got that fancy job, it didn’t take me long to realize that although I may have fit the vision of success I longed for on the outside, I wasn’t being fulfilled on the inside. This is when my idea of success started to shift.
I realized that there’s more than one way to be successful, and what you consider success might look different from how your neighbor considers success.
For some, success might mean the completion of daily, tangible goals. For others, success might mean earning a certain amount of money, building a family, running a business, having a positive impact on others, cooking a delicious meal shared with loved ones, or simply living every moment with intention.
When defining what success means for you, I first and foremost want you to think about fulfillment. When you lay your head down on your pillow to sleep at night, what will you have done that day to feel fulfilled?
Keep in mind that your vision of success will be intrinsically linked to your set of values, so when thinking of how you define success, think about your values.
Step 3. Reflect on What Has or Hasn’t Served You in the Past
Before you can move forward into the next decade, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the past. Think about the different areas of your life, such as family, career, relationships, money, health, and your goals, and how you felt in each area.
Identify your wins, losses, the areas in which you can improve, and if you should leave any sentiments behind. Be completely honest with yourself in this regard, and try to get a wide scope of how your values have influenced what you’ve done and how you’ve reacted in the past.
However, it’s also important to separate what’s “not serving you” in life from a fear of confrontation and conflict resolution. It’s so easy to say that something isn’t serving us when really it just makes us feel uncomfortable. But feeling uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing, and sometimes we can even find growth in it.
Don’t run from your struggles, but rather face them and then understand where (and if) they fit in your life going forward.
Step 4. Determine All That You’re Grateful for in the Present
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude are generally happier and more unshakable than those who aren’t as mindful.
We’ve talked about gratitude a lot here on The Wellness Project so, if you’ve been following along, then you know the drill. To practice gratitude, simply get a piece of paper or a journal, and list out all the things that you’re grateful for.
Of course, you can just think about the things you’re grateful for too, but I find it’s nice to have a physical medium to look back on to help remember things as they were in the moment.
And remember, gratitude can come in so many ways – you can be grateful for your health, the sunshine, your successes, your failures (after all, they helped you become who you are!), a bird chirping at your window, or all the special people in your life.
Step 5. Define Your Boundaries
Defining your boundaries is a concept that’s been recently getting a lot of attention in wellness circles, and for good reason.
Essentially, personal boundaries are how we teach people to treat us, what behavior we will and won’t allow in our lives, and how we get our needs met. When we don’t uphold our boundaries, our lives can feel disorienting and we can end up feeling taken advantage of.
We could talk for days on how to understand what your boundaries are and how to enforce them in your life, but for the sake of brevity, these are the most common boundary areas (as defined by The Holistic Psychologist):
- Physical Boundaries – Boundaries surrounding touch, comments about your body, and proximity.
- Mental Boundaries – Maintaining the freedom to have your own thoughts, beliefs, opinions, etc.
- Emotional Boundaries – What topics you’re open to discussing, how you react when someone expresses their emotions to you, and how you express your emotions to others.
- Time / Energy Boundaries – The value of your time and how you give your time to others.
- Material Boundaries – Your possessions, how they’re treated, and when and how they can be used by others.
For more information on the subject, check out this article on 5 benefits to setting healthy boundaries and where to start.
Step 7. Create a Vision Board
Now that you’ve thought about your values and how you feel about each area of your life, it’s time to think about your goals going forward.
Keeping everything we just talked about in mind, what do you want in your life? Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years?
The purpose of a vision board is to help identify what you want in life and then think about those things often. Vision boards aren’t magic, but instead are a way for you to see, every single day, what your goals are and help you keep focused.
A vision board is often physical, such as made on a bulletin board or with magnets, and has the intent that the more you think about the things you want, the more you’ll attract those things into your life.
Of course, the nature of the world is that we have no idea where our lives are going to take us, and I’m not telling you to plan out your life. This exercise is simply about focusing on the kind of life you want to live, and not losing sight of it.
How your vision board looks is completely up to you, but keep in mind that every item you list should have some kind of meaning. Of course, some items will be “deeper” than others, but it’s important to know your “why” for each item.
This article is a great resource for further study into what a vision board is and how to make one.
Step 8. Declutter Your Life
Do you feel weighed down by a hectic schedule, messy relationships, or an untidy living space? Then give your life an overhaul!
Multiple studies have shown that our living spaces directly affect our mood, so if you have a lot of items in your house that you no longer use, don’t have any specific purpose, and provide no sentimental value, then chuck or donate them.
In your relationships, if you’ve been avoiding having some tough conversations for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, redefining a relationship, or having ten minutes of awkwardness, then figure out how you can have those conversations. If you’re part of a relationship that’s weighing you down, whether that be a partnership, friendship, or even a professional relationship, then finding a constructive and respectful way to work through those issues is better than letting situations fester.
Last but not least, if you’ve taken on too much and feel bogged down by an extremely hectic schedule, then think about ways you can lighten your load. Maybe you can shift some of your responsibilities onto someone else who has more time, maybe you can combine activities, or maybe it’s time to ditch some responsibilities altogether.
Step 9. Never Stop Learning
In setting yourself up for success in the upcoming decade, make a point to never stop learning.
Take a class that will help get you closer to your goal, read all you can from different points of view, or volunteer your time to organizations you believe in or can learn from.
No matter how you do it, keep yourself learning and remember that you can always know more. Keeping an open mind will open yourself up to new ideas, new people, and new opportunities.
All the best in the 2020s!
That’s it for our food-for-thought ways to prepare yourself for success in the 2020s! What methods would you add to this list, and what self-care methods do you implement to keep yourself happy and healthy? Let us know in the comments!