I feel a bit like Oprah with that pronouncement but so be it. The reality is that having your best year ever requires work and planning. And that’s what we’re going to do for the next five days.
Day One: Examine Your Starting Point
Day Two: Determine Your Values
Day Three: Visualize Your Ending Point
Day Four: Chunk Into Goals
Day Five: Stumbling Blocks
Day Six: Public Declaration (and a wee small contest!)
Long time readers of this blog won’t be surprised by this subject matter. I write about the same thing this time of year, every year. I choose not to feel anything but professorial in this consistent repetition though. Greatness doesn’t come in a day and gentle reminders are always a good thing. I read a lot of personal development and business development books yearly so everything I’m saying today and the rest of the week is an amalgamation of what I’ve been reading this year (and my entire life). So if you’re reading this and feel like you’ve read something similar before … you probably have. =)
If you’re looking back over the year and wondering why your year didn’t go as planned, congratulations! You’re in good company. Many use the end of the year as a time for reflection and planning. And the first step to making next year different is to do a full autopsy on 2010. It’s time to figure out what is going to make your plans different this upcoming year so that your goals really do become your reality.
Step One: Get RUTHLESS. Today is not for the weak. Today is for a clear, level-headed assessment. Pull out your calender for the last year. Make a hot drink. Get in a quiet space. Grab the tissues. Grab a pen and paper. Find thirty minutes. Plan for an honest assessment; don’t spare yourself. Being kind to yourself has a place in most of your days but this is not that day.
Step Two: Look at the goals you set out for yourself last year (Didn’t set goals? Not to worry. If you had set goals, where would you expect to be today? There’s still a place for you to have an honest self-assessment, starting with “Why didn’t I set goals? What held me back?”). Which goals did you make? Write out your 2010 goals (or resolutions) on your sheet of paper. Check the goals off or put a line through them if you successfully completed them.
Step Three: Look at the goals that are left without a check mark or a line. Spend a minimum of FIVE minutes on each goal, writing down, free-form like a journal, what happened with that goal. Answer these questions:
(a) What happened? What physically held you back? What emotionally kept you from making this goal?
(b) What could you have done differently?
(c) Is the goal still important to you?
If the goal is still important to you, go back to (a) and write out all the corrective actions you should have taken and that you can take in the upcoming year. If you notice that all of your answers to (a) are things like “So and So did XYZ and so I wasn’t able to….” turn the mirror on yourself, and take a hard look at yourself again and take personal responsibility for what you could have done. (I’ve railed on this subject before. If you’d like a personal kick in the pants, read this blog post).
Step Four: Re-read all of your answers. Are there any patterns? Is anything jumping out at you? Now is the time to really mine the reasons that you didn’t make those goals and ensure that whatever needs to be changed for next year really and truly does get changed. Answers can range from: “I’m terrible at setting goals. Of course I wasn’t going to lose 120 pounds in one year!” to “I didn’t make it a priority in my schedule” to everything and anything in-between that.
Step Five: Now is the time for your grace. You were ruthless with yourself. You objectively looked at what went wrong for the last thirty minutes. Now, let it go. That was last year. This is now. You’ve done the play-by-play. You know what went wrong. You can fix it in 2011. And now, we can start this year off with a clean slate. Pssst: are you still feeling down? Yeah, you were pretty hard on yourself. Quick picker-upper? Write down all the things that you DID accomplish in 2010 that you are proud of, whether it was a goal or not. There. Now are you feeling better?
Stay tuned; tomorrow we’ll get to work on 2011 by starting at your very core, your foundation, your base: your values.
WOW! This really just hit me! I set some goals last year, tried and then dropped the goal because it wasn’t what I thought it would be like (yoga teacher training), but did accomplish a major goal, all the while getting beat up along the process, I made it and achieved the goal (finished prerequisites to attend acupuncture school and just finished my first semester) woo hoo! I realize that I am VERY hard on myself! People have always told me that, but when I read over the summary for this goal setting..it hit me! I AM HARD ON MYSELF! I really need to focus on the goal rather than beating myself up getting there. Thanks, this is a nice project for me….goal setting for the new year!
I am not looking forward to the sleep deprivation – especially because the
whole work/maternity leave thing will be extremely fluid (oh the joys of
being self-employed!) but millions of people do it, so I know we can too! =)
That sounds like the perfect goal for 2011! There’s not much that’s more rewarding or challenging than caring for a baby, but when you’re sleep deprived and in the middle of it, the rewarding part can be hard to see. I had never been truly sleep deprived before, and didn’t realize what a profound impact it would have on my attitude and ability to go about my day – I guess that’s why it’s used as a torture method.
Love that suggestion. Thank you! I’m doing some weights still and am going
to get back to Pilates 2X per week (prenatal yoga 2x per week, cardio 2x per
week, pilates 2x per week) but the arm work suggestion is very helpful. I
have dumbbells at home so I’ll fit some arm work in there every morning (I’m
already doing prenatal stretching for 10 minutes every morning). Even with
all that, I’m on track to gain more than I was planning! I blame that 2nd
month when I was so sick that I could not eat anything besides bread and
macaroni and cheese. LOL! =)
My goal for 2011 is ‘Taming the Perfection’ beast. I tend to be very rigid
in what I expect of myself (and therefore those around me) and with a
newborn that’s just not going to work so I have a whole series of things I’m
doing to work on that. Hopefully by the time the little one gets here, I’ll
have let go of my death grip on uber efficiency. =)))
I don’t know if you’re into recommendations from overly-eager-to-help-parents, but we found the Baby Whisperer extremely helpful with both boys. We have the one that deals through toddlerhood as well, and for eating and sleeping information, it was (is) invaluable. Because sleep for all concerned is worth more than diamonds. 🙂 Your hanging out idea is fantastic, and since I know that you’re a #fitCEO, I’ll also recommend doing lots of arm work – lifting a baby a few times is much different than a zillion times a day! You’re right about getting things done, too – it was one of the hardest things for me. I wanted to do a million things, and it just wasn’t possible. Accepting that has made life much more enjoyable – they’re only this little and needy for a few years!
It’s human nature to not turn the mirror on ourselves. I can’t tell you how often I blame my husband for something, just automatically. He usually gently corrects me or just outright laughs at me. It’s completely human nature unless we try to train ourselves otherwise.
I agree; sometimes, these processes really take time and re-working and often times, the quick and easy is not the answer that stick. What I find when I do these types of exercises in a group, I often take the wrong wording, missions, or answers on based on what I want other people to think of me or based on what I think others expect out of me. That’s why it’s so good to find the quiet time to do it by yourself or with your loved one. And THEN, take those things to your core team of advisors. Great job doing this with your husband. There’s no use going on a journey if you can’t take your best friend =)
Donna Maria Coles Johnson says
This is super. My husband and I started this process last week — mainly because we need more than 5 days to make it useful. (We’re slow like that.) The whole process is interesting because we are married and running a business together. This make the dynamic both challenging, complicated and also rewarding.
I really like the part here about turning the mirror on myself. I have a tendency to externalize the reasons why I didn’t do this or that. While I think there’s some legitimacy to it in a short term (as in, I didn’t work out for a week because my baby had strep throat), in the long term, one can never blame external circumstances for not stepping up the plate himself or herself.
I’m going over to Day 2 now to have a look-see. Thanks!
It’s a great excuse for me to work on my own goals along with you guys! =)
Catherine Dreher says
I so appreciate you taking the time to do this each year!
(big deep breath) I know! I’m reading every parenting and baby book I can
get my hands on right now (averaging one a week plus my normal reading) and
I’ve requested a ‘hang out at your house and watch’ day for someone I know
that has a newborn. My husband and I are taking TWO birthing classes and one
‘first year’ class. If there’s any way to be too overprepared, we’re IT! =)
LOL! One way that the baby has already changed things is that I’m not doing
yearly goals – only quarterly goals – for me personally. I know that first
year after the baby is born is a major reset button for what you think you
can get done versus what you actually CAN get done…
No matter how you get there, it all counts =) And won’t that be exciting
when you do hire your first person? You’ll wonder how you did it all without
them. And, then, you’ll find that one of the toughest parts of being a
business owner is the employees (hiring, setting expectations, delegation,
and sadly, firing). I’m so pleased that you saw gains in your private label
accounts. That’s fantastic! And kudos for doing the hard work with goal
setting in the last year.
Carrie, It’s okay to do things in itty bitty amounts too. Like, you don’t
need to get up and run for 60 minutes every day if you want to start a
workout routine. Starting with just 10 minutes per day is a fine goal.
That’s part of the ‘Realistic’ part of setting goals with that cool SMART
acronym (which I’ll talk about later this week). For example, I really want
to find a new church for us to go to with our little one because ‘community’
is a value for me. But, my schedule is brutal! So, for this quarter, my goal
was to visit 3 churches – or one per month. And looking at that goal, it
looks puny! But, you know what? I barely made it! I went to the 3rd church
just two weeks ago after having 3 months to make those 3 visits. Baby steps
eventually do finish the marathon ….
I completely agree with Teresa. And I’m also looking forward to next year’s pot-mortem and what you’ll share about how your baby has changed things! 😉
A-M, what great suggestions for going into the new year! This is my week to plan out next year, though I’m a little stuck on where I’m heading (it’ll come in specifics in a couple of days). I had specific goals for myself for 2010 – boost online sales and build up the wholesale end of my business. I lost one wholesale account in March when she closed up shop, but I gained two new wholesale accounts and a private label account this year. What was frustrating/exciting/overwhelming/thrilling was, I had a great gain in online sales in the last six weeks of the year (but not much prior to), and my second new wholesale account came less than two weeks before Christmas! At the same time, my private label account tripled their order volume. Right now, I’m going through growing pains – it’s getting to be almost too much for me to handle by myself, but will this level of growth continue to enable me to hire someone? Exciting and scary to think about at the same time!
Thanks for the advice Anne Marie…I wanted to do this last year too, but somewhere really deep down, I don’t think I wanted to be this brutal with myself and ended up with list of things I wanted to do or change, but without any commitment to it…I didn’t want to be responsible for what I said I wanted to change…because it was going to be really hard. This year, I am going to start by being the adult and making the hard decisions I need to make…off to do step one.
I really love your blog and hope one day to do the weekend soaping RETREAT for lack of a better word.
Yay! I would love the company! =)
thanks so much for this! I will be following/working along!
Debbie Chialtas says
I’m going to do this, too, starting tomorrow! Thanks for the structured approach. Sometimes just the task of setting goals can be incredibly daunting!
This is perfect Anne-Marie. I was just reflecting on my 2010 accomplishments for Dirty Laundry. I’m going to be adding on your exercises.
Thanks! And to a successful 2011!
Everyone falls off the wagon. That’s why I’m constantly reading professional and personal development books. Alot of them are just repackaging the same advice but I don’t care. I need that routine butt kicking! :))) Here’s to a fantastic 2011 for us all!!
I really, really appreciate your regular advice and reminders, A-M, because I have a tendency to fall off the wagon on these things. The beauty of your advice is that they can be applied to all areas of one’s life, and not just to one’s business. Thank you!!
Happy New Year to you and your family!