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.