Planning for a Great Year Ahead
How do you feel about what you achieved in 2011? How excited and confident are you about what you will be achieving in 2012?
Making specific goals and writing them down, dramatically increases the chances of success. What if this coming year you set goals you felt great about and achieved them? Let’s dare to dream.
I know it can be scary – if we don’t say it out loud then it won’t hurt so much if we fail. But what if? What if we could make a wish list of reasonable, possible things that would make us feel fantastic, and what if they did come true? What if it was all our own choice?
Well of course it is. We know what we are capable of (and that it’s actually much more than we think). Why not put some juicy goals in writing and arrange to achieve them? I will if you will. J
Ok, so here are some steps for setting goals for the year ahead that will put you in the drivers seat on the road to success. This is what I’m doing, and I invite you to join me.
The first thing I want you to do, is to go back and consider 2011.
Stay with me here, there is reasoning behind it, I assure you.
Get a pen and paper or open a document on your computer, and start making a list of what you achieved in 2011. Trust me, the list will be longer than you think, and there is a point to this.
The first time I did this was at the end of 2007, and I went from thinking I hadn’t done much to listing 150 things I was happy with. That list (I’m looking at it now) had everything from what I’d achieved with my business to potty training my son, doing my tax, reading books, meeting new people, dealing with difficulties, going to concerts, getting things fixed around the house, making big and small decisions and dealing with health issues.
What this did for me was to start off my new year with a solid validation of what I had done that I was proud of, happy with, was worthwhile. Those things that were not so much achievements as learning experiences or things I had coped with, I acknowledged myself for having a go, surviving and learning.
I believe in going through this process every year, and as I do, I like to have a glance at my lists from previous years. It’s amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come, and what sort of different issues I’m focused on now. Aside from the historical value of it though, as I said, there is great value in validating and acknowledging ourselves for whatever we have achieved. This reinforces to us that we are capable, that we are always learning and growing, and that we love and value ourselves.
This good feeling is the basis from which we think about the coming year and what we would like to achieve. We are starting from a place of love, focused on the positive.
It can also serve as a wake up call to the passing of years, and how much or how little we can achieve, and which things held more or less meaning for us after they were done.
So do, please, have a go at this exercise before thinking about the year ahead.
And now to the year ahead – let’s dream a dream of possibility……..
As you create your goals for this new year, start by being aware of the different areas of your life:
- personal growth
- physical environment
Get brainstorming, start big picture, then we’ll narrow it down. Make sure you address each of the areas of your life listed above. Here are some examples of big picture goals covering the different parts of our lives:
- Improve strength, increase fitness, eat better
- Spend more time/better quality time with the kids
- Show my partner more love, communicate better
- Spend more time with friends, stay in touch, be a better listener
- Achieve XYZ in my business/career
- Save XYZ amount of money, reassess investments/savings strategy
- Spend more time on hobby, achieve XYZ
- List some fun things I’d like to do this year
- Read XYZ, go to XYZ workshop/training, study XYZ, work on self
- Home more organized, items fixed, projects completed
So here we’re starting with a broad view of things we would like to happen. Note that they all relate to making improvements in key areas of your life.
Next, before we start making the items you’ve listed more specific and measurable, I’d like you to look at each item and ask yourself “what would that give me?” “what is the purpose of achieving that?” When you have the answer, ask the same question again of that answer. For example – why do I want to be more fit? To have better health. Why? To have more energy, mental clarity and longevity. Why? To be more capable in all areas of my life, feel more comfortable, have more peace of mind. Why? To be here for my kids, to feel better, to feel safer. Why? Peace, love and happiness!
There are a few reasons for this process of asking yourself why you want things:
- It gets you thinking about the real motivation for everything you want in your life, and it’s highest level intention. As you work through this, you will find a common theme emerging that puts you in touch with your higher self.
- When we have a big enough and clear enough WHY, or reason for doing something, AND we stay focused on it, the how will tend to make itself clear much more easily.
- It requires you to consider your values. As you seek the highest purpose for each goal you set yourself, you will notice that if the goal really feels right, it is congruent with your values, it is good for you, good for those around you and good for the greater good.
The learning here is that it’s really not so hard to follow through on actions we have decided to take. Where the effort is required is in deciding what you actually want.
Get specific. This is where we turn general ideas into real goals.
This is where we turn ideas like increased fitness or income into numbers, ideas like stay in touch more into measurable tasks like write letter to Jack and Fred and Dora three times per year, ideas like spend more time with the kids into one family outing per month and pizza and games night once a week, ideas like “get a life” into specifics like “join a choir”.
There is a model of goal setting called the SMART model. This means our goals should be:
So as you write and re-write your list of goals for this promising new year, make sure you’ve got all those bases covered.
Making your goals specific means you will know when you have achieved them, you are clear on exactly what the desired outcome is.
For a goal to be measureable, it may have a number attached to it, how much, how often, how big. By what standard will you measure your goal?
For your goal to be attractive, it needs to be something you really want for yourself, it needs to be for the right reasons. If you use the exercise above of asking yourself for what purpose would you want this, you’ll soon see how attractive the goal really is.
Set goals that are realistically possible for you to achieve. If you know it’s genuinely possible to achieve and is within your capabilities, you have every reason to be confident of achieving it.
Time your goals by setting a date by which they will be achieved. This gets your unconscious mind on board, and takes the goal out of the “perpetually in the future” realm into something to aim for.
Keep in mind that there will be many means goals on the road to achieving your end goals. If your end goal is to be able to play a piece of music, a means goal is going to be to keep to regular practice.
Allocating regular time to spend on each area of your life is where we take these specific goals and start turning them into slots on your calendar. The next article talks about using calendars.
Create action steps for your goals.
As you will see when you consider each of your goals, the action steps are not necessarily clear immediately, and require some deep examination of the results you actually want. Having done this in the steps above, brainstorm on each goal and write as many action steps as you can think of. Break it down. Put a time estimate of how long each one should take. Break it down more. How many sessions of working on one item do you estimate will be required?
As you come up with detailed action steps, you can plan them out for the year on your calendar.
To increase your chances of success even more, give yourself more options. How many different ways can you think of to get where you want to be? If one method doesn’t work out, what else can you try?
Who do you need to be to reach that outcome? How do you need to dress, speak, act, communicate?
Set yourself up for success this year. Now imagine yourself at the end of 2012, reviewing the year just passed and reflecting on what you have achieved. Imagine in detail, as much detail as possible, having already achieved the goals you have carefully formulated, and imagine what it looks like, sounds like and feels like. Take yourself back to these images and feelings all throughout the year as you persist with carrying out your decisions, making adjustments, and keeping your eyes squarely on the prize.
Happy New Year.
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