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“It has been a crazy year,” says Sandy Halpin. No arguments there, but where the pandemic has left many of us left feeling depleted and uncertain, Halpin is well placed to refocus our goals for 2021. As the founder and director of Capital Idea Consulting Company, she provides business, career, and life coaching to help individuals and organisations achieve growth and transformation. And as the year we had never imagined would or could unfold draws to a close, this is something we could use more than ever.

“I think a lot of people started 2020 with a sense of possibility and optimism but what I’m seeing and hearing from people are uncertainty and fatigue – and it’s crept into most parts of their lives,” says Halpin. “But it’s not all gloom because I’m also seeing people have moments of clarity amongst the chaos. We’re asking more than ever ‘is this working for me?’ It might be work, relationships, health, or something else, but we’re all challenging our status quo.”

When it comes to how to transform that status quo for a more productive and satisfying 2021, Sandy has a few tips. The first step is to identify your ‘next.’

“A sense of feeling stuck often starts us thinking, ‘Is this all there is?’, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ and sometimes, ‘What’s my purpose in life?” she says. “While they’re fascinating questions, when we ask them in times of chaos, crisis or fatigue, they can become really quite daunting and counter-productive. I encourage people to think about what’s next because it takes the pressure out of the question and acts as a circuit breaker for your mind.”

Taking a next step with purpose, no matter how small, will move you. Keep taking small ‘next steps’ and Halpin says you’ll be surprised by where you end up in 30 days – and beyond. “One of my clients highlighted this when she told me that through our work she’d realised she didn’t have to make major changes to her life to radically transform the way she felt about her life.

Halpin’s simple five-step (pun intended) process will get you on your way. It begins with Reflection. “Spend a little time looking at where you ‘are’ today and what your year has been like,” she says. “This isn’t to dwell in the past or beat yourself up. It’s to look at the year objectively and acknowledge what went well, what was reprioritised and what you did along the way.”

Then think Forward. “What do you want the next year to look like?” says Halpin. And then follow that up with, ‘how will life be different when I have achieved that?’ When you think about the difference in your life, you start to really step into the change you want.”

Next comes the nitty-gritty:Prioritising, Planning, and Action.

“It’s tempting to make a really long list of things we want to do, and then to start on everything all at once,” says Halpin. “A more successful strategy is to prioritise that list so you get some quick early wins while you’re working on longer terms changes.”

Planning is key. “Knowing how you’re going to make the changes and getting the right support, equipment, resources and time is important,” says Halpin.

Finally, it’s time for Action. “This is where the magic happens,” says Halpin. A daily habit of action is what makes the difference so work out how you’ll make progress each week and check that you have what you need to get it done.” Make the time and schedule it into your diary as a non-negotiable. “If you’re working from home you might have a couple more hours for yourself each day so use them well,” she says.

A professional mentor or a coach like Sandy can provide powerful insights from their deep experience and knowledge of an industry, business, or role.

As much as we’re powering up for 2021, Halpin says it’s important to remember to power down. Making dedicated time for relaxation, socialising, health and fitness, and whatever else recharges you will set you up for your best and most balanced year yet. “We’re all in search of ‘work/life’ balance but I’m not sure it’s that simple,” says Halpin. “We’re so much more than ‘work’ and ‘life’ and ‘balance’ is different for everyone.”

She advises taking a multi-dimensional view of life that typically includes 6-8 areas such as family, friends, health and fitness, financial wellbeing, career and business, spirituality, freedom and creativity, personal or professional development. “In my own life, I recently realised just how much I was missing the social aspect of friends, family, and work through COVID,” says Halpin. “I knew that would happen but didn’t realise how tough it was going to be. After spending a lot of time at home early in the year I’m loving being back at Paramount by the Office Space where I get to be with my work family.”

Sandy’s workplace, Paramount by the Office Space, is a boutique co-working space located within Sydney’s historic Paramount House. It provides a 360-degree example of how to power up – and power down – to prepare for 2021. Comprising a fitness club, two cafes serving healthful food, a cinema and a hotel in addition to the offices, Halpin says Paramount House is a working model for what a well-balanced life could look like. “It helps to separate my work and personal life and as my Paramount neighbours have become friends I get a bit of my social fix at work,” she says. “I can take advantage of the gym, rooftop, café, bar and cinema to support my other priorities of health, fitness and freedom and while I haven’t stayed at the hotel yet, I think it’s a treat I may have to give myself this year. If I can’t travel, then I should explore what’s literally on my doorstep!”

Capital Idea supports businesses and individuals through bespoke transformative coaching experiences. Focussing on strengths of both the individual and collective, you can take your personal and professional performance to new heights.

To support your personal reset and goal-setting, Capital Idea is offering a six week Start Your New Year, NOW program at the special price of $50 for a limited time. Visit www.capitalidea.com.au/programs for more information.

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