Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

How to get ahead in the New Year

How to get ahead in the New Year requires a mindset shift. Instead of placing pressure on yourself with thoughts such as, “It’s the beginning of the year, I must lose weight, I should sign up for that course…etc” , it’s advisable to take the time pressure out of it. I have never believed in New Year’s resolutions, rather ‘life resolutions’. You set yourself up to fail by placing unnecessary pressure. Most people fail at keeping to their New Year resolutuons and that places a negative mood over the beginning of the year.

YouGov research last year found that just a quarter (27%) of those who made New Year’s resolutions managed to keep to them all.

Create goals in line with your values

The best way to make goals stick is to create them in relation to your values. Research suggests you are far more likely to commit to goals if they mean something to you and the motivation is intrinsic (internal – you are doing it for you) rather than extrinsic (you are doing it to please someone else – a parent, a partner, a boss etc)

Find out more about your values here if you aren’t sure:

Before you get stuck in – think about what you inherently enjoy. Ask yourself how your life would look if you knew you couldn’t fail and you could create the life you wanted. Where would it be? Would you live in a city or the country? Would you work in an office or outdoors? Would you work with others or prefer to work solo?

Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child? Do you still do that? If not, was that your choice or was there societal pressure to give it up? Did your parents disapprove.

Find your essential self

Your essential self is who you were meant to be. Who you were born to be. What are your natural talents? Drawing? Painting? Helping others? Engineering? Our essential self is a bundle of natural talent and characteristics. Sadly, as we grow up, this gets diluted down and our Social Self takes over. Our social self knows about keeping others happy, doing what’s expected of us and towing the line. Unfortunately, our Essential Self and Social Self are often at odds and have conflicting interests. Get back in tune with your Essential Self and you will be on the right track to contentment and a life that helps you to feel fulfilled.

Keep self compassion in mind

When it comes to success, whatever that may be to you, remember that success can often be disguised. It may not look like success on the face of it but success comes in many forms. To me, success means having choice in life. Sometimes, that isn’t choice over the bigger things such as what car I drive but it may be over what I do woth my time that day or whether I get to choose certains freedoms that I never used to have.

It’s also a good idea to be kind to yourself in your pursuit of success. Success isn’t a linear path, it often winds around and at times it may feel as if success is a long way off. In those moments, try to stay in the moment and don’t allow the worrisome thoughts to get the better of you.

Don’t beat yourself up, just vow to keep plodding in the right direction and make allowances for bad days.

Make time for fun and pleasure

Society would have you believe that you must work harder, do more and be more. Of course, this is great because you will be lining the pockets of those higher up the chain. Take time out for yourself and never allow yourself to be exploited by the capitalistic machine that exists. I believe it is responsible for much of the mental health issues we see in the world today – people constantly striving, their self worth inextricably wrapped up in their performance and as such, they are on a treadmill that will never ever satisfy them. Step back -step off the treadmill and really think about what you are doing with your precious time.

Perfectionism is something I see with increasing frequency in my work and I find it alarming. People who cannot cope if they don’t get the perfect selfie on their holiday for Instagram. This who feel inadequate because of the car they drive or where they shop for clothes. Clients who compare themseelves to those on Facebook and Instagram and feel they aren’t good enough. This world has gone nuts and as a mental health expert, I despair at the warped ideals many aspire to, thinking this will make them happy.

What will make them happy is actually the opposite of what they are doing. We are wired to want to fit and and be accepted. In cave-man times, if you were shunned by your tribe that meant certain death. Now it’s not the same but our wiring will take a while to catch up. Reject the idea that you need to fit and live up to an unrealistic concept of what is successful and worthy. We all buy into this fake veneer and the reality is that the majority of people sit aorund feeling unworthy and living life as a shadow of who they could be because they are living up to the ideals of others.

Set your own ideals…you get to choose. Success to me is being an independent thinker AT ALL TIMES. Just because it’s cool on social media doesn’t mean that IT IS ACTUALLY COOL. All it is, is a social contruct. An ideal in a time and place that will soon be changing. Dn’t build your life in such flimsy ideals – make yur own robust ones that fit in with your vision for yourself.

Never confuse the two – your Essential Self is till there – waiting for you to tune it. Think of it as your gut feel, your intuition – there when you want to pay attention.

Believe in yourself

This is a hard one. There are so many reasons for us not to believe in ourselves – comparisons, negativity and/or rejection from others…the list is endless. It’s so easy to be swayed from constant self belief. It’s one characteristic that I consider to be THE most important in your pursuit of fulfilment in life. People will be negative, they will try to dissuade you, your own self doubt will get in the way…put it to one side and focus on all the reasons why it could work.

I love the question: If you know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Fear stops so many of us from trying and that’s sad. What’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work out, but at least you will have tried. I would rather try and fail many times than never try at all.

Don’t believe for one second that everyone else knows better than you. It’s not always the case – often others are just better at selling themselves but they often don’t have the talent to back it up. Don’t over think it, stop procrastinating and just start at the beginning.

Overthinking (and perfectionism) can lead to major unnecessary delays.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – you will learn along the way and that is valuable too.

Enjoy the ride

Stop the incessant pressure. Instead of: I must achieve my goals, tell yourself, “I would prefer to achieve my goals but it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t”. I think we have forgotten how to live. We are too busy being slaves to our “to-do” lists and our “What’s next?” mentality.

Slow down, enjoy the experience. Laugh a lot. Maintain a sense of humour and don’t see life as such a serious race. You’ll be happier for it!

Mandy X




Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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