There’s an old toast: May all your troubles be as short as your New Year’s resolutions. Which is why personally I’m not a huge fan as far as New Year’s resolutions go. It’s too easy to feel like a failure when those daily trips to the gym fizzle out by Valentine’s Day. But I do love to get quiet this time of year and think about what I want my life to be so I can make the decisions that will take me there.
Here are 5 things you might want to try along with me to help you shine on in 2017.
1. Give yourself a tagline. Or call it a theme or even a mantra, if you like one of those better. To me, it’s a way of owning your story, of telling your truth, and also of setting your intentions for the year. Maybe yours is Focused and Fearless in 2017. Or The Year of No Excuses. Or Fun Starts Here All Year. Whatever feels right, whatever works for you.
My tagline for the year is It’s Never Too Late to Shine On. It’s something I believe with all my heart and soul. It’s the story of my own life as well as my books. It’s the message I want to bring to the world. I’ve written a book called Never Too Late and another one called Shine On, so that’s where it started. But it’s much more than that. I’m hoping my new tagline will become a filter I can use to help me make decisions all year. There are so many awesome opportunities out there that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the choices and shut down. So what I’ve decided is that if it fits my tagline, I’m in. If not, maybe another year.
So I’ve put It’s Never Too Late to Shine On on the header of my website. I’ve also printed it out and taped it like a banner across the top of my computer screen. It’s a bit wordy for a tattoo, but hey, you never know.
2. Every day, do the thing that will move you forward first. Tweet later. Check Facebook later. Answer email later. Clean your house later—way later.
When I take the hardest step first, when I do the thing that will move me forward in my life first, my day is so much more productive and I feel so much better about myself. For me that usually means getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and a handful of almonds, and sitting down at the computer and writing my daily pages. I don’t know about you, but this is a lesson I seem to need to learn over and over again. I go along so well for a while, and then the self-sabotaging part of me needs to test it one more time to see if it’s still true. For me it always is.
As I say in Never Too Late, sometimes the biggest thing you can do to find your next chapter is to get out of your own way.
3. Rise above the negativity. All the cynicism and pessimism out there can crush us if we let it. No matter what we’re up against, our attitude is always our choice. I actually picture myself floating above all the nastiness and heading for the light. I try to bring kindness to the world in every interaction, large and small. Many of the great things that have happened to me were triggered by something nice I did for someone else. As one of my characters once said, karma is a boomerang!
Also on the negativity front, whatever their motive, lots of people will tell you why you can’t or shouldn’t do whatever it is you want to do. You just have to decide to do it anyway. You don’t need anyone’s permission.
4. Get Resilient. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions, to spring back and try again. I really think resilience is like a muscle—the more you use it the stronger it gets. So don’t quit. Just take the lesson if there is one, regroup, adjust your angle, and keep putting yourself out there.
One of the most quoted passages from my books is this from Seven Year Switch: “If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. (204 if you’re in Japan!)” I truly believe this and have seen it play out again and again in my own life. If we’re willing to put in the work, we can get wherever we want to go.
5. Learn Something New. Everything you need to know about the world you want to conquer can be found online. The Internet is a great equalizer, and there are so many awesome opportunities out there, many of them free, just waiting for you to take advantage of them. Or sign up for a class in person. I love teaching, but I’ve also taken classes in everything from digital marketing to graphic design lately. Lifelong learning not only keeps those brains of ours firing on all cylinders, but it’s a huge confidence builder. I’m so proud of all the new skills I’ve picked up. So do yourself a favor and learn something, or lots of somethings, new this year.
Wishing you a truly fabulous 2017. And remember, It’s Never Too Late to Shine On!
Claire Cook wrote her first book in her minivan when she was 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the romantic comedy adaptation of her novel, Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. Claire is now the New York Times and #1 Amazon bestselling author of 17 books, including Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention and Shine On: How To Grow Awesome Instead of Old. Connect with Claire on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Find out more at ClaireCook.com.