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At the turn of each year, many of us set out some goals and resolutions for the coming year – for work and the rest of life. But former National Football League safety Bo Eason, now a corporate trainer, thinks goals are small stuff. He urges you to think big – a declaration. And not just for 365 days, but for the 20 years it will take to fulfill.

“I want you to think about your declaration as being similar to the Declaration of Independence. You’re going to declare what you want to be the best at and live out of that declaration,” he writes in his book There’s No Plan B For Your A-Game.

The key words are “the best at.” It’s not a case of some areas for improvement, as in most New Year’s resolutions. It’s thinking on a grand scale – being the ultimate.

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He started in 1969, declaring his intention of being the best safety in the world. As the plan progressed, he added winning the Super Bowl in year 20. His team did win the Super Bowl that year although he was injured and didn’t play. But he says, “I know my declaration had something to do with that Super Bowl victory. Part of the power of a true declaration is that you carry everyone along with you.”

His three subsequent declarations, carrying him into new fields, were to be the best stage performer in the world, the best playwright, and the best speaker and trainer.

It seems daunting. But he says living according to your declaration is simpler than resolutions because it becomes a way of being. The declaration helps to clarify what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. That will boil down to whether the activity helps you reach your declaration or not. “You’ll discover pretty quickly that living by your declaration, being the best, is about eliminating things. It’s not about adding things,” he notes.

Start by writing down your declaration in one or two sentences – plain, straightforward language, and not avoiding the “I will be the best” commitment. Also write a letter, dated 20 years in the future, indicating all the obstacles you overcame to achieve your intent. He says you need an intimate and deep understanding of your future self to succeed. And don’t let the thought of obstacles deter you. Getting past them is the fun part of life.

He adds some rules to adopt, including:

  • “I know there is no Plan B for my A-game”: We have more options and choices today than ever before in history. But through your declaration you are cutting off options and simplifying your life. That will free up energy and brain space for your declaration.
  • “I will be unreasonable”: The odds of being in the NFL, he says, is 0.03 per cent. But he made it. “Dream big; dream huge. Be totally unreasonable with your dreams,” he says.
  • “I know there will be only one way out – quit.” You can surrender by quitting for an hour – he did. But the only way to actually get out of this declaration will be if you fully, consciously, totally quit. And you won’t let that happen, right?
  • “I will only work with the best.” To be the best, you must work with and learn from the best. Don’t be intimidated by that thought. Seek them out.
  • “I won’t go it alone.” The declaration may seem to set you apart. But others will come along, caught up by your passion, energy, and vision.

New Year’s resolutions are fine. But are you up for something bigger?

Quick hits

  • Goals can be hard or easy, internal (grounded in your own personal values) or external (something beyond you, like conquering a competitor). The Leadership Worth Following consultancy suggests you want hard and internal. People with a hard-goals mindset are 73 per cent more engaged and 55 per cent less burned out on average than those with an easy-goals mindset. People with an internal goals mindset are 72 per cent less burnt-out on average than those with an external goals mindset.
  • Start your mornings by saying, “I will let go of …” and abandon some anxiety, advises consultant Michael Kerr.
  • When stressed, write an “it’s done list.” Business coach Jackie Ghedine includes small things like getting her child to soccer practice or more significant achievements like completing a business proposal. She focuses on each for 30 seconds, to recognize her accomplishments.
  • Don’t forget your résumé and supporting materials at home when heading off to a job interview, blogger AnnaMarie Houlis warns.
  • In a presentation or speech, decide what’s essential, what is important, and what is helpful, says blogger Ian McKenzie. Cover the first, try to cover the second, and forget about the third.

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