I’m yet to meet somebody who doesn’t want a brighter future for his or her family.
Let’s face it; changing other people to see your point of view isn’t easy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Because of that sobering reality, the best chance we have to improve our family’s future is to look inward and start improving ourselves. As Gandhi once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In an effort to jumpstart your family’s bigger future, I offer ten actions you can take immediately that can not only transform you, but may also inspire those you care most about to begin thinking of themselves and their future much differently.
1. Start saving something, automatically, today – Setting aside money each month, by way of an automatic savings plan, can be one of the simplest ways to reshape your financial future. Whether it’s putting a dollar a day into a Mason jar or $100 each month into an investment account, the simple act of making saving automatic will cause you – and your family – to wish you had started sooner. Start now.
2. Set aside time to dream about and plan for the future – Schedule an hour by yourself at a restaurant or coffee shop with a pen and notebook and write down what you’d like to accomplish in the future. Whether it’s forgiving someone who hurt you or running a marathon, get to dreaming, and take action immediately toward at least one goal.
3. Take ownership of what you’re not good at – You’re not good at everything, so it’s best to own up to that reality now. Seeing that other people are great at things you struggle with is a huge step toward focusing on your strengths and allowing others to glorify your weaknesses. You’re not supposed to be great at all things, so stop beating yourself up.
4. Begin asking for help – Once you identify the areas you struggle with and would like to improve, set aside your pride and allow others to help you. They’ll feel fantastic by serving you and you’ll benefit by getting unstuck. Naturally, you’ll want to pay it forward by helping others in their weakness, and that’s a very powerful strategy for improving just about everything.
5. Clear out clutter – If you’re drowning in junk, whether it’s unused items around your home, or too many commitments on your calendar, rent a dumpster, make trips to Goodwill, and contact some people to let them know you’ve overcommitted and simply can’t give them your full attention. By clearing out the clutter, both physical and mental, you’ll make room in your life for new opportunities.
6. Schedule your most important tasks in advance – Once you identify what’s most important to the success of the new you, schedule blocks of time to work on those items. You and I both know that good intentions will not improve your family’s future. Only by scheduling time to work on your plans will you actually begin to see real, lasting change.
7. Emulate someone you respect – Who seems to have his or her act together? Why not begin to act like they do? After all, they aren’t doing everything right, but they’re doing some things right, so why not follow the leader? If you’re feeling courageous, ask them to mentor. They’ll be flattered and you’ll accelerate your progress, a win-win.
8. Stop believing you need all the answers before starting – You and I will not know everything we need to know before we start to experiment with new actions and initiatives. By starting now, you’ll pick up along the way what you need to grow and prosper. Shaking the belief that you don’t know enough to get started is a huge first step toward getting things done.
9. Volunteer in order to learn more skills and make more money – It’s rare that somebody will want to pay you as you learn new skills. Therefore, seeking opportunities to volunteer your time in areas that you’d like to master can be a very powerful strategy for building your skills, your résumé, and your network. Look for groups that share your areas of interest and get involved. A person who is generous with his or her time is a very attractive person to have around. Be that person.
10. Read more books – Leaders are readers. Why start your bigger future adventure on your own? There are countless books, written by extremely successful people who weren’t always extremely successful. Learn from their mistakes to avoid making as many of your own. Leverage their experience in order to transform your own.
Ultimately, the future you create for yourself will have an undeniable effect on your family. If seeing those whom you love realize their fullest potential brings a tear to your eye, working on yourself may be the best gift you can give them. Seek help, be humble, act generously, and remain curious and your family will never be the same. Is there a better way to start a New Year?