How To Get Your Party Started...
The first week of the new year is over.

Did you get your party started?

I have had some folks ask me how I "start a new year and new resolutions".

My answer?

I began with NOT starting a "new year". 

Because I do not "start" my year on January 1.

What?  Yes. That is correct. After years of kicking back and watching, I have  noticed that so many people tackle that FIRST day or week of the New Year like  they have to get THAT day perfect or else.

Then if anything goes wrong or off track then oh well.... guess I have to wait 364 days to try again.

IF you have done that this first week: STOP.

"January 1" is an arbitrary date to "start" anything new at best.

My advice to you is: just start.

Some  good advice I got a few years ago was if you wanted to plan to make a  formal change of this that or the other on January first, then use the  dry run approach and think about the change you want to make PRIOR to  that day. Spend a month (or two) practicing your change so when the  first comes around then you will have worked the kinks out of your new  behavior or practice.

For example, you decide you are going to swim every other day for exercise.

You get to the gym fresh and ready on January first to find out it's closed!

Oh no! Messed up already! (Really you haven't but that is where some people's head goes).

So  you go on January 2 and get there and.... sit and wait. An hour. To get  a lane to swim. Which makes you late for work. Or you don't swim  because you don't want to be late for work.

Etc. etc.

Starting to work on a dry run prior to whatever arbitrary date you have selected allows you to do things like:

1. Taking the time to check the gym hours and considering how holidays might affect them or how you might have to modify other things on your "to do" list to accommodate this new addition to your schedule.

2. Finding out the natural ebb and flow of the crowd so you can plan your swim times to where you aren't waiting as long.

3.  Practice and find things you hadn't considered or anticipated so that  when your "big day" comes along, you ease into it smoothly and have  fewer glitches.

And remember, you can start a new habit or behavior or schedule on January 1.

OR you could start really on the first day of any month.

Or you could start really on the first day of any week.

Or you could decide that each day is a new day and you can start ANY day.

Or....yes....each hour, minute, second, is a new opportunity to make a new or different choice.

If you had planned to start something new on January 1 and didn't... you can still start. Just start now.

I  have had some changes I have wanted to make for a while but I have  spent some time "perfecting" them (no, they are not perfect....just that  I have been working on them). Because I don't set an arbitrary hard  date to go or no go, then I can take my time and figure out which ways  and methods work best then I can tweak them.

And even if you  start on January 1 but find things just aren't working how you like,  admitting you need to adjust or change something is not an indication  that you have failed. It simply means you have recognized the way it's  working now might not be the best way for YOU.

I found once I got  past that social expectation of a "new years resolution" I actually  felt a lot better in that I could make any change I wanted at any time I  want. And if I decided to make a change and then changed my mind about  the change then it was okay because I hadn't done a hard connection to a  date thus provoking some sense that I had failed.

Now you know you can start (or restart) any time. What next?

My old mentors (whom are still my mentors but these pre-date my infosec career) had this rough check list of life areas that I had to review on a consistent basis. These areas were:

1. Health 

2. Relationships

3. Finance

4. Personal Growth

5. Fun

Health is important because if you don't have your health then it's very difficult to work on the other areas or at least more of a challenge. I was taught that it's important to address any current areas of concern (such as excessive weight or a cold) but it's also important to consider FUTURE potential concerns. This can get dicey if you are prone to anxiety about health concerns but it really is as simple as something like considering how much sugar you are consuming that could be affecting your long term health or how much water you are drinking in regards to your hydration levels in that dehydration over time can have negative affects on your body.

Relationships are important in that this is not just relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. It includes such things as relationships with strangers (manners & protocol) and your relationship with yourself. So many people are kind to everyone BUT themselves. If you have a tendency to be very hard on yourself like I do, one of the areas my mentors addressed with me was to help me learn to treat myself with the respect that I deserved but had only been giving to others. 

Finance covers a variety of areas from day to day financial management of your household to investments and retirement planning. 

Personal Growth spring boards off building a better relationship with yourself. In my case, I had to correct my old "mom" behavior of putting everyone else before me. I remember one mentor saying, "You have to put your own oxygen mask on first just like on the airplane". For some reason, that did it. But it took me making some every big mental adjustments so that I could get to the point where I felt comfortable and "allowed" to invest more in myself and my own personal development. If you are currently a parent that has been devoting your time and life 100% to your child, I get that. I truly do. I just want to gently remind you that you need not neglect your own life, needs, and growth in the process. By providing the example that each person SHOULD strive to improve and DOES deserve to give themselves opportunities to learn and grow, this does far more for your kids in the long run than being the martyr so many of our own mothers have appeared to found comfort in. I say this with much love to each of you: you deserve to have a life as well and while it's important to be dedicated to your responsibilities as a mother, just like with any job, you have to also be able to not become the door mat everyone else wipes their feet on.

Fun. Fun? Yes. I said it. FUN! While I am the first person to lecture on "life is not full of safe spaces or fun" that does not mean you can not create them for yourself. I have found in my years of experience that if I wait for others to create fun for me then 99% of the time they don't. Unless they have an agenda that includes creating fun for me because they expect something from it, they are going to focus on their own fun and happiness a majority of the time. IF you are fortunate enough to be with someone who actually cares about your happiness as much as their own, go tell them you love them and thank them for being in your life right now.

Go ahead.

I'll wait.

Fun is not necessarily living a life of jet setting red carpet Champagne swilling frivolity. Often times if you look close, while those folks appear to be having a "good time" deep down inside they are so insecure and worried about what everyone else is thinking about them and their status and how they are going to acquire the next trendy thing before their rival or how their competition is on their heels and what they have to do to stay one step ahead.

My mentors taught me that while it certainly can be fun to walk a red carpet (I have done it!); jet set (check, done it); and swill Champagne (done it... highly recommend the caves of Maison Veuve Clicquot in Reims or the Champagne Bar in Harrods London) those were singular moments that are still delightful memories. But just like brushing your teeth, anything can get old if you do it all the time. No, my mentors have taught me to "do what brings you joy". Would you believe that while this seems to be a simple thing that would be easy to figure out, it took me YEARS to realize that most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with anything material.

I challenge everyone in 2018 to figure out one thing that truly brings you joy. And remember, joy is not the "absence of unhappiness". Once you find the first one and really "get" what that feeling is, then you can move forward from there to discover what else gives you that feeling and work towards bringing more of that into your life.

After you have examined those areas of your life, ask yourself these three questions:

1. What did you accomplish in 2017 in that area? Start with the positive! If you did not have what you consider an accomplishment, consider any work towards that area an accomplishment in and of itself. Some of you reading this are alive this year and made it through 2017. THAT, my friends, IS an accomplishment. Give yourself credit for that. It does count.

2. What are you disappointed in about that area from 2017?


3. What can you change about what you are doing that could give you traction in that area? This is not a place for "regrets", this is where you analyze what did not work and what you can change. 

For example, I might have written down

1. I accomplished speaking at a conference!

2. I am disappointed that I did not pay as much attention to the amount of sugar I ate as I would have liked to.

3. I can stop trying to mentally keep track of sugar grams like I had been and actually start to log them in my daily agenda so that it's more in my focus and I am less likely to forget something I have eaten or miscalculate the running total in my head after a long day when I am tired. Seeing a number written down is hard and clear vs one that is hazy in my head.

I have a Motivation Board that I regularly update and display things to remind me of goals that I have (another exercise given to me by a mentor). For this new year, I have the following quote displayed prominently in the center:

"When Life Gets Blurry, Adjust Your Focus"

Every day, every hour, every moment is an opportunity to adjust  your focus. If you have already lost focus in this new year, now is the perfect time to adjust. If you feel like you haven't had focus in years, now is also a good as time as any to adjust. 

Now, come on, let's get this party started!