Optimize Your Life

Episode #49: Year In Review

Show Notes:

Welcome back, Optimize Your Life fans. It’s been quite a year. As I record this, we are about to head into the holiday season. People are wrapping up their year and their presents. They’re not tuned into what’s going on at work as much as they normally are. And interestingly, what I’ve been finding is that although January is around the corner and that’s the time of the year where people usually set resolutions for the year to come, at this point in the game, there is still that lack of clarity about what those goals might be. One thing is clear – you want to improve your life. You may just not know what to focus on in this moment and even when you do identify something as a goal, you’re not sure how to get it off the ground, and more importantly – how to maintain it. 

As I reflect back on 2021, the year when I started this podcast, I made a commitment to create 50 episodes back in January. It wasn’t always easy because this project was time consuming. And even though I set time aside in my weekly schedule to work on episodes, there were weeks when I was traveling and needed to batch record several episodes ahead of schedule. 

I tell you all this because when it comes to goals, what’s really important is your commitment. And, to be truly successful, you need to have some specifics on board. 

Too often when we create goals, they are open-ended and vague. What was helpful in my example is that I knew there would be one episode per week and a total of 50 episodes. Sure, there were times when I wanted to quit, but that commitment kept me going. I would tell colleagues that I made a commitment to 50 episodes and I was going to see it through. At the end of the year I would decide about my next goal, which might be doing another 50 episodes in the year to come or something else. I’ll share with you my plan for 2022 in this year’s 50th and last episode. You’ll have to wait until next week for that. 

Now that I’m nearly at the finish line, I went back to review the stats. I was curious to see what most interested you, the listener. And what I found was interesting but not totally surprising. Although during the past year I’d covered many topics ranging from self-care to optimal productivity, the top 3 most listened to episodes were around mindset. 

So what I thought I’d do today is go over the top mindset tips shared so far this year so that you can harness them as you consider what you want for the year ahead. 

In episode 1, I talked about how to focus your mind to create the life you love. This was a perfect way to not only kick off the show but also to start off a new year. The premise was simple. 

We look at the fact that less than 10 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions keep them and then I share a 3-step process to help set you up for success. It starts in your mind. You have to see yourself being successful. That takes clarity, of course, so if you’re still not sure what you want, there’s an intermediary step you’ll need to take. But assuming you know what you want and are ready to launch into it, you first see it in your mind, then create your goal around it (this includes the actions you’re going to take and when you’ll take them), and finally, as you launch into your workday, it’s about prioritizing those actions that will move you closer to your goal. 

Pretty straightforward stuff. But how many of us are actually doing it? See what I found is that people don’t do the simple things because it seems too simplistic. They think there’s some secret they need to dig up that will be that magic bullet. 

The truth is it’s all about that inner discipline. Creating structure in how you show up to work is crucial, so maybe go back to the basics. 

I recently did this with one of my coaching clients. She’d been using an old fashioned notebook to keep track of her appointments. I had her migrate everything over to Google Calendar so it would be digitized. That’s a great tool to help you be able to search for things, create reminders, and have a visual of your day. It’s so important to have some reflection time at the start and end of your week. 

Once you know what your goal is, get clear on your objectives for that week and even each day and plug them into your calendar. Then when the week’s up, reflect on what you’ve accomplished and if there are things you set out to do and didn’t accomplish, consider what got in the way and go ahead and plan for them in the coming week. That’s what I call strategy.

In episode 26, we talk about a growth mindset. This is very relevant to goal setting as well because it’s what keeps you resilient in the face of setbacks. And if you’re a perfectionist, this is crucial for you. 

I just had a conversation earlier today with someone about perfectionism and I thought you should hear this and in a minute you’ll see why. 

So this woman I interviewed said she never identified as a perfectionist because she considers herself far from perfect. That’s the first mistake people make. They equate perfectionism with being perfect. 

To make sure we are all speaking the same language, perfectionism isn’t about how perfect you are. It’s about your mindset. Perfectionists try to do everything perfectly. Whether they succeed or fail is irrelevant. What’s important is their approach and what’s driving them. 

As with anything else, it’s our beliefs that drive us. In the case of perfectionism, it’s about a belief that you’re not enough which drives you to do more. Even more specifically, it’s the belief that you’re not good enough, so you try to do things the best way possible to compensate. 

I talk a lot about this programming that often leads people to burnout in my course, Decode Your Burnout. You see, if you’re not clear on the contributing factors that have led you to burn out, it’s hard to find a recovery strategy that works. It becomes a guessing game and what I’ve done in that program is taken the guesswork out of it for you. If you’re curious about how you can Decode Your Burnout, download my Burnout Checklist to see how you fare and I’ll share some information about how you can crack your burnout code from there. I’ll put the link to the checklist in the show notes. 

But back to a growth mindset — perfectionists see the world in black and white terms. It’s either perfect or it’s garbage. This is part of what is known as a Fixed Mindset. So to overcome perfectionism, at least in part, what the author of Mindset — Carole Dweck — suggests is that you cultivate this mindset of growth that’s about learning from your mistakes and being more fluid than rigid.

And finally, in episode 22, I shared how you can establish more positive thinking in your life. Many of my clients struggle with a negative framework. Their inner voice beats them down, telling them how inadequate or stupid they are. Even when they do something good, they’ll beat themselves up for not doing it sooner. You just can’t win with this kind of negative spin on everything. It’s like the parent or boss who is never satisfied. Except that’s you!

Sometimes the negativity comes from a place of anxiety. I have clients who run high on anxiety so everything that’s new or different than the norm becomes a concern. Their mind is filled with “What if” questions and catastrophic ideas about the future. When things go well, they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. When they get promoted at work, they fear messing up and their imposter syndrome kicks in. This is real and it wreaks havoc on their mental health.

What I share in that episode too is that it’s not about being positive all the time. Life happens to all of us. That means that part of the time we are meant to feel negatively. It’s part of the spectrum of emotions that are there for a reason. If we’ve experienced loss, we are supposed to grieve. If something bad is happening, it’s not about feeling happy or numb to it, it’s about accepting those things we cannot control. It’s about being intentional with your thinking.

So there you have it: The most listened to topics of the year from Optimize Your Life: Focusing your mind to create the life you want, Creating a growth mindset, and Cultivating Positive Thinking.

Certainly these are all a work in progress. So keep showing up for yourself with patience, compassion, and gratitude and you’ll fare better than most.

And of course, you don’t have to figure all this out on your own. If you’d like to work with me, just book a chat with me. The link’s in the show notes along with all the other resources from today’s show. Go to www.bookachatwithsharon.com and I’ll talk to you soon. For the rest of you, I’ll talk to you next week for our final episode of the year. 

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