New Year 2022

To kick the old year out and welcome in the new, I’m bringing back a favorite tool. It’s adapted from Dallas Travers’ terrific “Year in Review” exercise. Here is How to Engineer Your Better 2022 — arranged in twelve simple yet powerful steps to move you toward your desired future.

I’ve shortened and arranged this for musicians—and included my own take on these as examples. (Thank you, Dallas!)


What’re you doing New Year’s Eve?

In contrast to typical New Year’s resolutions that end up being broken promises, these steps build on your success from the previous year, and help you identify the habits and resources you want to carry forward. Take time today to reflect on 2021 so you can engineer your better 2022.

There are a total of 12 steps and #12 is surprisingly effective—so let’s work the steps together and see what you can make happen.

To get started, grab a pen and paper, your 2021 calendar, add in some quiet and maybe the beverage of your choice, and . . .


1. Reflect back on 2021

Review your calendar month by month and list your successes: both professional and personal. This doesn’t take long since most people will easily spot their successes as they scroll through the past year’s calendar. I’m betting you’ll find you’ve accomplished more than you thought—even in a pandemic. (I know I did!)

My successes included finishing editing a new book and sending it to my agent. I also overhauled and launched the Land the Job program and am more than half way through a new program I’ll be launching in the new year. These were all projects I’d delayed doing because I was afraid to tackle them. And focusing on projects is how I dealt with much of the stress of this year.

But the thing I’m most proud of is the progress I’ve made recovering from a concussion. Having something that drastically changes your work life and forces you to rethink your values and priorities—that’s been a real game changer. And in a bizarre way, I’m grateful for the accident and what it taught me.

As you make your own list, ask yourself: What worked? What went well? What are you proud of? Look for your strengths and resilience in action and get it down on paper.


2. Identify themes

By “themes” Dallas is asking what intentions, patterns, or beliefs helped guide you forward in 2021?

For me, one theme was Honor. As in, how can I, through my words and actions show honor to others as well as to myself. This both/and focus helped me find a more balanced work schedule that helped lower the stress. It meant I needed to be both compassionate to others and to myself.

And another important theme for me this year was Wonder—I found inspiration especially in nature and walks. This was key to keeping sane during COVID.

What were your themes?


3. Acknowledge your challenges

Make note of what was difficult in 2021. But Dallas Travers reminds us to look back at our behavior with compassion and honesty.

For me, I saw more than a few instances where I fell back into negative thinking and acting ‘small’ instead of moving forward courageously. Not my finest hours. There were times when I let my self-doubt and fear slow me down or stop me cold—delaying projects and keeping me from reaching out for help and collaborations. I want to be on the lookout for this the coming year, so I can name my Resistance immediately and use the tools I’ve learned to move past it.


4. Reach a sense of “Completion” for 2021

Once you’ve got your list of what didn’t go the way you planned, and acknowledged it, it’s time to create what Dallas calls “completion.” This is about active self-acceptance. It’s not ignoring where we fell short—it’s looking at it clearly. It’s about letting go of the excuses and the rationalizing we’ve all engaged in.

None of us is perfect. This step is to acknowledge and own up to what didn’t go well so we can move forward honestly, making room for the positive.


5. Create a healthy celebration ritual

As we’re saying goodbye to 2021, choose a positive way to celebrate the challenges you moved through and the successes you experienced. What would feel optimistic and energizing to help mark the end of 2021?

Choose a simple and meaningful way to celebrate. Perhaps it’s a walk around your block this evening. Or calling a good friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Or making a special dinner for your sweetheart. Compose your own ritual to help you mark the end of the old year and welcome in the new.


6. Envision your better 2022

Write down 3 concrete goals for what you’d like to accomplish. Andrew Simonet, in his excellent “Making Your Life as an Artist,” suggests having one goal in each category: personal, professional, and artistic. I love Andrew’s focus on the three areas in life—the trifecta of a balanced lifestyle. Choose specific and measurable goals that will have the most positive impact on your world. These goals should be attainable—not impossible fantasies—and they should stretch you well beyond your comfort zone.


7. Invite Change

To bring about your desired accomplishments, think How you’d like to make these changes. And who you might connect with to help you bring these about.

Here’s what came up for me: one of my goals for 2022 is to complete and promote my newest online program so I can be of more service to more musicians. When I consider HOW I want to move ahead, here’s what I picture. I see myself completing the revisions, asking and getting feedback, and then promoting the course with more ease, confidence, and creativity. Less panic.

This step is a great motivator to help me pay attention not just to getting the work done, but the attitude I bring to the work. And it underscores the need for me to reach out for feedback, advice, and support along the way.

What changes do YOU want to invite into your life? Does your professional goal include booking a certain number of performances? Or upgrading your self-promotion or attracting a certain number of students?

Think it through and write it down focusing on HOW you want to work through the changes and who you want to connect with for support.


8. Keep the good

Next, Dallas recommends identifying the positive habits and resources you want to continue using in 2021. What do you want to recommit to or cultivate further?

For me, I’ve been finding the most important thing is regular habits—for my writing, for taking walks, for weekly check-ins with friends and loved ones, and especially for going to bed early. I know this sounds pretty basic, but it actually makes a huge difference in my productivity and in how I feel throughout the day and the week.

My guess is you’ve also identified things that have been working this year that you could renew your commitment to. Write them down.


9. It’s all about relationships

Think about who’s in your life and make a list of 7-10 people you would like to get to know better.

Who’s in your circle who might be open to some bi-lateral brainstorming with you? Ask them out for coffee or lunch—or do this on Zoom. Find out what’s helped them manage during COVID, what’s working for them and any advice they might have for you. Do the same for them. Be intentional about the influences you have in your life. Who’s on your list?


10. Give it up

What patterns of behavior or thinking are you going to commit to giving up in 2022?

I was brainstorming with a terrific musician last week about his habit of taking care of things at the last minute—he said it was the way he always has worked. I could certainly relate: been there, done that plenty!

The musician I talked with said he couldn’t motivate himself unless the real deadline was within spitting distance. And he was used to pulling things off this way. But I asked him, at what cost?

For me, the grant proposals, cover letters, and articles that I’ve written at the last minute are never my best work. And then there’s the fear or panic that last minute work rides on. I’m at the age now that I finally see life is way too short to be operating like that. And I’ve seen the difference that working over draft after draft brings—much more nuanced and persuasive work—work that I can truly be proud of.

So what habits will you commit to letting go of in the new year?


11. Bring your vision to life

Think about how you want to experience 2022. Make it more real in your imagination by using your senses. Create an image in your mind of you going through the year, dealing with challenges and doubts in a positive way and building your successes step by step.

Write down what you picture: how you will experience it in your body. What adjectives describe that version of you managing through the tough times ahead?  For me, the words that capture this are capable, resourceful, and whole.

What are the words that work for you—how do you want 2022 to FEEL?


12. Write your future into being

Once you’ve got your better 2022 outlined—the goals, habits, and feelings you’re bringing forth in the new year—place it somewhere you can refer to throughout the year. You might post it within eyesight of your desk, your mirror, or your fridge.

But Dallas also recommends writing your better 2022 as an email to send to your future self. On you can schedule an email to arrive in your inbox one year from today. So next year at this time you can open it and feel even better celebrating all that you’ve accomplished!

I sent mine off yesterday—and you know what? I’m feeling more confident and motivated about next year already.

If you’d like expert feedback and accountability to help you implement your vision for a better 2022, stay tuned for news coming your way. 

Can’t wait? Reach me HERE.

Let’s get this going,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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