This is the time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions. But I’m not a fan of those. In fact, I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in over a decade.

Instead, it’s a great time to roll the clock forward to the end of the year and think about the following:

  • Where do you want to be in 12 months?
  • What would have made the year a great year for you?
  • What investments do you need to make now to create those outcomes?

Maybe you want to get promoted, or land that important deal, or join a corporate board.

But, as the year goes on, things happen that are beyond your control: how well your company is doing, policy changes, possible budget cuts, unexpected family obligations.

At some point, change and uncertainty can feel overwhelming and even derail you.

What’s in Your Control?

To help you get the year off to a great start and stay on track no matter what happens in the environment around you, I’d like to share a concept I’ve recently learned from my friend and fellow executive coach, Anne Miller.

That is to cultivate a surfer’s disposition.

Surfers have no certainty or control over their surfing environment. After all, we’re talking about the ocean, which bows to no human. Change really is the constant, and you just don’t know what you’ll face from one day to the next, or even one wave to the next.

So as a surfer, you have to be able to read the situation and adapt moment to moment. You’ve got to be resilient in dealing with wipeouts and setbacks. You need to be persistent and stay with it. You’ve got to be patient in looking out for the right wave. You have to be brave to get up on that board again and again.

Despite those challenges, surfers find huge joy and a feeling of flow in riding those waves. That’s the result of focusing on the things they can control, which are:

  • First, their investment in themselves through practice and training, and
  • Second, the way they react to the things that are not in their control, which is to adapt, persist, show resilience and be patient. All of which adds up to the surfer’s disposition.

It’s About You (and Your Response)

When it comes to succeeding in our careers, we can all take a page from the surfer mindset and approach. Just like surfers who don’t control the ocean, if you don’t control the situation around you at work, you can still control yourself and your response to what’s happening.

It’s the best path to feeling more confident and in control, capturing better opportunities and inspiring others to improve their situation too.

Otherwise, you’re likely to feel powerless, swept along, passed over and dragged down in the undertow.

Three Actions

So here are three actions to help you cultivate a surfer’s disposition and have a great year.

When it comes to achieving your goals for the year:

1. Recognize what’s in versus out of your control, and state your goals in terms of what you can control.

For example:

  • Instead of setting a goal to “Get promoted”, which you don’t control, you could set the goal to “Put myself in a position to be promoted” or “Make myself promotion-ready”, and
  • Instead of “Convince them to hire me” it could be “Communicate the value I can add”.

2. Focus on doing everything you can do to succeed, which means invest in and work on yourself.

For example, would it serve you well to:

  • Learn how to be a better communicator
  • Become a better teammate
  • Work on your personal brand
  • Hire someone to help you rewrite your LinkedIn profile
  • Become more decisive and confident

3. Pay attention to the way you respond to uncertainty and changing situations.

Look for the way to reframe the situation so that you can handle it in the best possible way for achieving your goals.

The phrase that sums up this attitude is: “This is perfect; all I have to do is figure out why and how.” And that gives you the perfect opening to reframe the situation to one that’s more energizing for you.

So go ahead and adopt the surfer’s disposition this year.  It’ll help you feel more confident and in control. You’ll have more energy to keep going. You’ll inspire others. And you’ll have a higher likelihood of successfully riding that wave, and enjoying the process.

And to help you get your new year off to a great start, I’ll be announcing something special for you on Tuesday. I think you’ll benefit from it and have fun in the process, so stay tuned! Plus, it’s free.

Leave me a comment to let me know what investments you need to make in yourself to set yourself up for a great year.