Sunday, January 11, 2004

This will be your year, so seize it

By Rhonda Abrams
Gannett News Service

I'm officially declaring 2004 "The Year of You."

This year you're going to set a goal and achieve it.

This year you're going to take better care of yourself.

This year you're going to grow your business.

This year you're going to improve your financial situation.

This year you're going to spend more time with your family and friends.

This year you're going to be happy.

Face the obstacles

Life's pathway is filled with obstacles. All of us face hindrances as we try to reach our goals. The question is: are you going to treat those obstacles as barriers or challenges? Are you going to let the fact that you don't have enough money, enough education, enough contacts keep you stuck where you are if you'd rather be moving forward?

The choice, to a very large degree, is yours.

In life, you're going to encounter many people who'll tell you that you won't succeed. They'll point out the pitfalls you'll face if you try to reach your goals. They'll point out your shortcomings. It's easy to listen to these naysayers and allow yourself to become discouraged.

If you're fortunate, you've had people in your life who believed in you. Perhaps it was a parent, teacher or other adult when you were young, or perhaps it is a spouse, sibling or friend who believes in you now. These messages give us confidence that perhaps we have the stuff it takes to succeed.

When we're young, we build our sense of self from these external messages. But over time, the most important messages we receive are the ones we give ourselves. These can be discouraging messages - I'm not smart enough, good enough, attractive enough, and on and on. Or they can be encouraging messages - I can succeed, I can try, I can achieve.

Keep the faith

Developing that internal voice of continual re-inspiration is a critical business skill. After all, as a business owner, you'll face many dispiriting situations - the loss of a key customer or employee, the failure to get financing or make a big sale, economic downturns and increased competition.

What will you say to yourself when you have to deal with these kinds of problems?

I'm not saying that you should naively dismiss the reality of these difficulties; I'm advising that it's important you learn how to talk to yourself. You need a realistic, yet positive, internal discussion reminding yourself of the skills and attitudes that have enabled you to succeed up to that point.

And remember, if you have employees, you can't motivate them if you can't motivate yourself.

To be a leader in business or in life you have to continually remind yourself that you can achieve. So be careful with the kind of messages you give yourself.

Make sure you give yourself the kinds of messages that help you see the possible within yourself and others.

One thing's for certain: the 366 days of 2004 will only come once. Enjoy them, appreciate them, get the most out of them.

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