In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the king of Corinth and somewhat of a practical joker. Sisyphus played several tricks on the gods, and he also cheated death on two occasions. Because of his unruly behavior, Zeus condemned Sisyphus to a lifetime of futile and frustrating labor. Sisyphus had to roll a boulder up a hill; only when Sisyphus reached the top of the hill, the boulder would roll over his shoulder and back down the hill. He then started the process all over again. He was to repeat this process for all of eternity.
Around this time of year, you may feel like Sisyphus. Starting a new year can feel like a boulder falling over your shoulder. You pushed to finish last year strong, and now you’re pushing the boulder up the hill again. Starting over is overwhelming, frustrating. It can seem like a Herculean (or Sisyphean) task. If you view the new year as starting over, you’re pushing that boulder up the hill.
What if you didn’t start over? What if there were a better way to view your beginnings? Here are a few tips as you begin this new year.
Starting a new year is not the same as starting over. Yes, you have a new quota. Yes, you pursue new prospects. Yes, you have new goals. But, no, you are not starting over. You are building on the momentum you have already generated. Your wheels were already turning; keep the momentum going. You are approaching this year’s goals, prospects, and targets with all the expertise and experience you’ve amassed over your career. Your professional foundation will make your progress easier.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. At the beginning of a new year it’s tempting, but pointless, to compare your progress to that of others. Comparisons lead to two potential outcomes: feelings of hubris because you outperform, or feelings of inadequacy, neither of which are positive emotions. The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday. Yesterday’s you is the only competition you have. Focus on beating who you were yesterday. Imagine the power of getting better every single day. Regardless of where you start, you are exponentially better by the end of the year.
Stop putting deadlines on your progress. Starting something indicates you plan to finish. Recently I read Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game. The book encourages you to approach your business and profession as a never-ending game—a game with no final minutes, final quarters, or final plays. Operating under this premise provides a better vantage point. You make decisions based on what’s best for you in the long term. If there’s no end date, you never start over; you simply continue.
I purposely waited to share this message on January 19. Research shows that this day is the most likely day people abandon their New Year’s resolution, which is fine. New Year’s resolutions are pointless. Rather than beginning a new year with resolutions, choose to live your life in a way that requires no resolutions. To do that is simple; be a better you today than you were yesterday.