Looking for something with more impact (and sticking power) than the usual
doomed-to-fail resolutions? Vickie Milazzo wants you to make 2012 the year you finally buck up and start living the life YOU want to liveâ€”recession be damned!
2011 is drawing to a close and, for many recession-wracked American women, it feels like just another mile marker in an endurance race going nowhere. Depressing, but true. We trudge through the week at a dreary job, drive home fretting about money, and spend our evenings robot-walking through the usual haze of homework battles and half-finished chores. Passion and fulfillment? Nope, just sheer survival. And the worst part is, most of us have meekly accepted that this is how it has to be right now.
Vickie Milazzo has a message for all us â€œendurersâ€: Buck up, girlfriend! You can do a lot more than (barely) get byâ€”and 2012 can be the year you actually start living your life again.
â€œIâ€™m not talking about the kind of new yearâ€™s resolution thatâ€™s just wishful thinking pasted on top of your old lifestyle,â€ asserts Milazzo, author of the New York Times bestseller, Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. â€œIâ€™m talking about truly changing the way you think about things, breaking old habits, putting some real boundaries in place and tapping into your determination.
â€œIâ€™m talking about taking responsibility for your own happiness,â€ she adds. â€œDonâ€™t you think if someone was going to swoop in and rescue you it would already have happened?â€
Milazzo has earned the right to be a tough talker. In 1982 she faced the reality that she was unhappy with the direction her life had taken. She was a registered nurse with a bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degree. But after six short years of hospital experience, Vickie felt like she was in a dead-end job. She still wanted to be a nurse, but on her own terms. Today she is the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar legal nurse consulting education company.
â€œIt is possible to create a life that excites and energizes you,â€ she says. â€œBut first you have to make a conscious choice to step out of your old, unfulfilling one. And itâ€™s a choice you have to make over and over againâ€”if you donâ€™t your old patterns will suck you back in.â€
To achieve what Milazzo calls â€œWicked Successâ€ you have to cultivate a new, wickedly resourceful mindset. She offers nine strategies that can help you do exactly that in 2012:
–Break the feel-good addiction. Remember, where you focus is where youâ€™ll yield results. And because we like to feel good, we gravitate toward whatâ€™s easy instead of whatâ€™s productive. We major in minor accomplishments, wasting time surfing the Internet, watching TV, hanging out on Facebook, trying to beat our high score on Angry Birds.
â€œHereâ€™s a news flash: Thereâ€™s no real life prize for being great at Angry Birds,â€ says Milazzo. â€œItâ€™s time to let go of time-sucking distractions. The more superficial things you engage in the more superficial your life and accomplishments will be. So the next time you have a break at work or the next time all the kids are out of the house, instead of checking your email, Facebook or texts, use the time to take a step toward achieving one of your goals.â€
–Stop being the Chief Everything Officer â€“ donâ€™t say â€œYesâ€ by default. Itâ€™s a hard lesson to learn but in order to be wickedly successful, you have to understand that by saying â€œnoâ€ to some things you will have the time and energy to say â€œyesâ€ to the right things. If youâ€™re feeling overwhelmed and pulled in every direction you wonâ€™t be able to lead yourself, much less anyone else.
â€œStop committing your energy to every person or situation that demands it,â€ advises Milazzo. â€œYou need to set your own expectations of what you want to accomplish. Donâ€™t let your career or life take a backseat to everyone elseâ€™s. Yes, you have responsibilities to others. But youâ€™ve also got a responsibility to yourself.â€
Do something big every day. You eat a whale the same way you eat an apple â€“ one bite at a time. The wickedly successful understand that to accomplish any project you canâ€™t expect to do it all at once.
â€œThis is often why our New Yearâ€™s resolutions donâ€™t work out,â€ notes Milazzo. â€œYou say, â€˜I am going to lose 20 pounds!â€™ And then you implement a new exercise regimenâ€”or heck, just start actually exercisingâ€”and after two days of no weight loss you get discouraged. You arenâ€™t going to achieve your goals over night. You have to work at it every day. Commit to doing something big every day towards that project or goal and youâ€™ll reach it. Keep working out regularly and slowly but surely youâ€™ll see the results. Find something you can improve and start improving it â€“ one bite, one step, one day at a time.â€
–Stop hanging with the biggest losers. When you choose to participate in negative behaviors they rub off on you. Think about it this way: If youâ€™re struggling to achieve a goal, you shouldnâ€™t hang out with someone else who is struggling to achieve that same goal. If you want to be great at golf, you donâ€™t hang out with a bad golfer.
â€œSuccessful people tend to hang out with other successful people, not with losers who whine about someone elseâ€™s success,â€ says Milazzo. â€œStick with the winners. The view from the top is meant to be shared. Find someone whoâ€™s already there to share it with, not someone whoâ€™s never seen it.â€
–Expand what youâ€™re willing to believe about yourself. Studies show that women will underestimate their own abilities, judging themselves lower than their skills prove, while men overestimate their abilities, judging themselves more competent. If you see yourself as powerless thatâ€™s what you will be. Anytime you find yourself entertaining doubts or trying to limit what you think is possible, remind yourself of your past successes. Let them infuse you with confidence and bolster your resolve.
â€œBelieving you can do itâ€”whatever â€˜itâ€™ isâ€”is 90 percent of the win,â€ assures Milazzo. â€œWhen I walked into my first meeting with a potential client, my legs were literally shaking. I forced myself to remember that this attorney needed specialized knowledge that only Iâ€”a critical care nurseâ€”could give him. That reminder didnâ€™t banish all of my nervousness, but it did enable me to make the points I wanted with my first client. I learned that when you expand what youâ€™re willing to believe about yourself, you can transform who you are and what your life looks like.â€
–Donâ€™t wait for conditions to be perfect. Along the way to becoming wickedly successful, you may have to redefine what success looks like for you. Conditions will never be perfect â€“ there will always be something muddying the water, even if itâ€™s just a little muddy.
â€œThe real challenge is accepting that you have to keep on giving your best even when things arenâ€™t perfect,â€ says Milazzo. â€œMisguided perfectionism can keep you from stepping out and going for what you want. Perfectionism can also rob you of the enjoyment of experiences. Distinguishing what does and doesnâ€™t require perfection is the hallmark of wickedly successful women.â€
–Surround yourself with as many successful mentors as possible. Inept coaches donâ€™t fail to help you â€“ they help you to fail. Look around you for others whose work you admire and model yourself after them instead.
â€œGet out of the rut of your own habits,â€ advises Milazzo. â€œTake your advice from people with a proven positive track record. Accepting the leadership of others does not make you less capable of achieving your goals. It actually boosts your abilities. Donâ€™t be afraid to ask for advice. And when you get good advice, donâ€™t be too proud to follow it.â€
–Regenerate your passion for work. Do you remember why you wanted the career you have? There arenâ€™t many jobs that offer easy hours and easy money, so that probably wasnâ€™t it. It was probably the love you had for the profession whether you get to help people everyday, use your creativity, crunch numbers or whatever your passion is. Tap back into the frame of mind you had when you were just starting out. Ask yourself, What can I do to become passionate about work again?
â€œWhen you take this inward look, it is entirely possible youâ€™ll see the path ahead going in an unexpected direction,â€ says Milazzo. â€œYour passion might lead you somewhere else. Thatâ€™s what happened to me when I started my business. I was a registered nurse and I realized I wanted more passion, more joy in the part of my life that sucked up 10 hours every day. That journey led me to pioneer the profession of legal nurse consulting. Youâ€™ll know passion when youâ€™ve found it because youâ€™ll feel amazingly engaged and energetic. Desire will become energy and youâ€™ll have plenty of it to create your new lifeâ€”your real life.â€
–Take care of yourself first. If you stepped back and looked at your daily routine objectively, as if it were happening to your best friend, what would be your advice? Slow down? Take a few deep breaths? Spend a few moments enjoying one day before another day crashes in with new demands?
â€œWe need to give ourselves such loving adviceâ€”and listen to it,â€ advises Milazzo. â€œWe need to thrive, not just survive. To have healthy, exciting and fulfilling relationships with others, we must first have a healthy, exciting and fulfilling relationship with ourselves. Donâ€™t be so busy taking care of others that you forget to take care of yourself. You canâ€™t be your best self if youâ€™re not your own self.â€
â€œThereâ€™s no reason why 2012 canâ€™t be your biggest, boldest, most wickedly successful year yet,â€ says Milazzo. â€œBut for that to happen you have to match your big goals with some real changes. You have to take on a wickedly successful mindset that doesnâ€™t take â€˜noâ€™ or â€˜I canâ€™tâ€™ or â€˜Iâ€™m too tiredâ€™ for an answer.â€