Happy New Year! And, welcome, 2021! I have never looked forward to a new year more than this one.
It’s the end of December and I’m thinking about what’s ahead. I love this time of year because it’s full of potential and good intentions. It’s the time I consider what I want to achieve over the next 12 months and what I want to improve in both the personal and professional areas of my life.
However, for the past few years, I haven’t actually written any of these goals down. I’ll admit, most of those good intentions, loose ideas and goals keep being set aside year after year or are forgotten altogether. I’ve recently discovered how important it is to write these goals down.
The Success-Energy Equation
There is power to putting pen to paper, said Michelle Cederberg, health and productivity expert and professional coach, during her presentation at the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference (AWC) last November.
When you take the time to think about and write down what’s important to you, she explained, it gives your brain enough time to move that idea from short-term to long-term memory. After that, put those goals where you can see them so your brain can continue to work on them.
This is only one part of what Cederberg calls the “Success-Energy Equation,” which is the title of her new book and the session she presented at AWC. This equation is meant to help drive your success to higher levels. And who wouldn’t benefit from more success, especially farmers — you are busier than ever before physically, mentally and emotionally, with your daily farm work as well as running your own businesses.
Cederberg posed this question, “What one great dream would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?” That had me hooked. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a dream they’d like to turn into reality, whether it’s losing a few pounds, making more money, writing that book, starting a new business, et cetera.
I was reassured to hear success is not supposed to be easy and it’s not meant to be a straight path. It certainly hasn’t been for me. I’ve almost always taken the long road. As soon as we recognize this, Cederberg said, we can get on with it.
There are four factors to her success-energy equation: goals, belief, discipline and energy. We’ve looked at the importance of setting clear goals and writing them down. The next step is to believe in our abilities. Again, I think this is an area most of us can improve upon. Who doesn’t have those niggling doubts when trying something new? Or the ability to talk ourselves out of doing something we find scary? I’ll be the first to put my hand up to this.
What you think, affects the actions you will take, Cederberg said. We must train our brains and talk to them in a way that drives our success. And to do that, there are four Rs for shifting belief in ourselves: recognize, remind, reframe and repeat.
The first is to recognize when your thoughts become unproductive. Sometimes we sell ourselves short for no good reason. When this happens, stop and say to yourself, “I shouldn’t be talking to myself that way,” said Cederberg. I know it seems simplistic, but it works.
The second R is to remind yourself of your past wins, current successes and the enduring capacity within you. Think of all the times you have overcome life’s challenges and focus on the amazing things you’ve done in the past. Write down a list if you need to. You are farmers, so this won’t be difficult: you resolve problems and do incredible things every day.
The third R to shift belief in yourself is to reframe negative messaging into what is possible. Cederberg said this is your power move. This is where you train your brain with the right kind of information to drive your success. Don’t let your brain tell you it can’t be done because it stops trying to find solutions. Instead, keep your brain open to the possibilities about how you might achieve your goal and it will have a problem to solve and will keep trying to find the answer.
The fourth R is to repeat, repeat, repeat. To replace past negative messaging (which we have built up over years) with positive, open-minded thinking will take practice.
I don’t know any group of people more disciplined than farmers. You may find this the easiest part of the success equation. However, while there is no lack of discipline for getting farm work done, Cederberg suggested discipline for the things we long for (you know, those dreams) may be lacking. She had some suggestions to increase discipline in these areas, which I’ve listed below.
- Know that it’s not meant to be easy and then do it to be done with it. Sometimes it’s just best to power through and get ’er done. Make a list and check it off (ticking that list releases endorphins).
- Don’t give your power hours to throwaway tasks. This means use your best energy for your highest-value tasks that require focus, time and effort.
- Delete the work no longer relevant, delegate what you can and do the work.
- Set a timer (10, 20 or 30 minutes) to get that task done.
- Now, reward yourself.
The fourth factor of Cederberg’s equation is energy. This means energy in all its forms: physical, mental and cognitive. If we take care of all of these forms of energy, we’ll have better emotional and physical health, self-esteem, self-confidence, coping mechanisms, attention span, focus and creativity, to name a few.
To address our energy, Cederberg said we must recover, recharge and connect. That is, take moments where you can pause and breathe, do things you enjoy and listen to your body. To recharge move a little more than you normally do, eat better, sleep better and keep hydrated. To connect, nurture your relationships, talk to people rather than text, and keep your head up and eyes open and spread a little love. If we do even this last simple thing, 2021 will be better than 2020, guaranteed.
This is the tiniest slice of wisdom from Cederberg’s presentation and book (which I immediately bought after her AWC session). The book, her blog and other inspiration for the new year can be found at michellecederberg.com. I believe we’re on a path of continual learning and improvement and growth comes from feeling uncomfortable and, at times, from pain. It’s reassuring to hear success is hard work and not a straight or short path. I’m writing down my goals for 2021 and I’ll also work on those other three factors of success. What an exciting prospect to break out of routine patterns!
What are your dreams for this year? How will you make those dreams a reality? Drop me a line at [email protected].
My best wishes to you all for health, wealth and happiness in 2021!