Prepare for 2015 start next year on the right foot (updated for 2016)
Prepare for next year BEFORE it begins. Clarify your goals and objectives.
It is a liberating process. Try it !
There is a song I like called “Road to nowhere” that I think is appropriate for this blog …
“Well we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out”
Planning a whole year will take more than 10 minutes …
Allow yourself a few hours at least to go through this process. It usually takes me a day or two. I found that the time between Christmas and new years is a good relaxing period to go through this process.
First thing first … lets do some reflection on last year (where we’ve been):
- Reflect on the previous year — Record everything that stands out for you
- Think about last year, from its beginning to today. What are the milestones / major events that you remember?
- Review the pictures on your phones, tablets, Dropbox etc — Record anything that stands out
- Trips / Quality time with the family
- Events you attended
- Work related achievements / breakdowns.
- Things you saw that made an impact on you
- Review your diary if you have one
- Review your calendar events, anything that stands out?
- [OPTIONAL] Make a time line for last year using a program like “Timeline 3D” on the iPad/iPhone. (it helps to visualize and get a bigger picture of last year). It will also help you reflect on the year to come.
- Lessons learned from last year
- When you look at last year events, ask yourself:
- What went well?
- What made it go well?
- How can I repeat / get more of that moving forward?
- What did not go so well?
- Why didn’t it go well?
- What can I implement to prevent it from happening again?
- What goals did I want to achieve but didn’t?
- What are the reasons I didn’t achieve those goals?
- Are they still important? if they are, record them for next year
Now that we know where we’ve been, lets explore where we go … but before we can do that, lets figure out “who we are”:
- What is your mission? — write it down … If you never thought about your mission before, ask yourself … why am I doing what I’m doing? why do I wake up every morning? what drives me to do the things that I do, what is my bigger purpose in life? this may sound very strange if you never thought about yourself in those terms. If you are not sure, simply write the things that come to your mind, and revisit them at the end of the process, it may become clearer by that time.
- If you had a mission before now, ask yourself:
- Is that still my life mission?
- Did anything happen in the last year to shake it? change it? make it stronger?
- What are your beliefs / core values? — Write them down. Your core values are your principles, they are your guiding light when you take actions, for example, whenever you do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you are doing something that is against your core values. Whenever you feel good about doing something, it means that it’s aligned with your core values. My core values are written in my biography under the “my principles” section. We are guided by our core values whether we know them or not (they are part of who we are). Knowing your core values allow you to be more aligned with your actions, know what to say “no” to, and what to do more of.
- If you had core values from before, ask yourself:
- Are they still true?
- Record why each are important to you
- Are any of the core values you wrote don’t resonate with you anymore?
- Is there anything missing from the list?
- Looking at your core values (high level), do they “represent” who you are?
Now that we know where we’ve been , and who we are, lets take a look at where we go …
- Ask yourself what your vision looks for the next 5 years? your vision is a reflection of your life as you see it if everything was going according to what you want, what would a complete success in your life look like in five years? Write it down as a narrative, it should probably be one or two pages long (the more the better, it will allow you to connect to it better).
- Don’t restrict yourself to “what’s possible”, the sky are the limit, what would your life look like if you had unlimited, time, budget and energies? paint yourself a picture that you can “drool over”. Make it as real as you can. Come from a place of abundance not scarcity.
- How is your personal life looking like? who are you with? what does a normal day look like? how are your relations with the people around you? friends, family co-workers? strangers?
- What do you do on the weekends? holidays?
- What do you do at work? how does your work environment look like?
- What are your hobbies?
- How is your energy level?
- REFLECT — Does the vision I wrote align with my mission and core values I wrote before?, this is a great time to revisit your previous two sections, if they do not match then you probably did not get the right core values or mission.
- Based on the 5 years vision you wrote, write down your goals for the next 3 years. This should be a list of things that you would like to improve or change in the next 3 years to support your 5 years vision.
- Read over your vision and your goals. Identify the different “hats” or roles you perform as part of them. It will be different for everyone. Here are some examples:
- Project manager
- … etc …
- For each of the roles you identified, answer the following questions:
- Environment — Where, when and with whom do I play this role? What are the external influences on me? How does the environment should look like? How does it look now
- Behaviors — What are my typical behaviors? The things that others see I am doing and saying? do I need to change anything currently to match?
- Capabilities / skills — What skills does this role require? what is my confidence level for each of those skills? Do I have all of the knowledge required to do this? do I need to learn anything new?
- Beliefs and Values — Why do I do it? how does it make ME feel? what are my beliefs when it comes to this area? Is that area aligned with my belief system?
- Identity — Who am I when I perform this role? how do I feel about doing this role? Does it align with who I want to be? is it something that I want in the first place? does it align with my core values / principles? does it align with my mission?
- Purpose — The big picture for the role, what are the bigger reasons behind doing this / being that? How do I contribute to others when I play that role? Why is it important to me?
- Based on the roles and goals you wrote, write down a list of projects you need to perform in those areas:
- How can you further your 3 years goals by implementing projects for each role?
- Take a close look at what you wrote for the environment, Behaviors and capabilities / skills under each area — those are prime places to find projects “lurking” about.
- This is a good time to look at the list of things you wrote that you did not achieve last year, and still want to do.
- For each project — record the goal and purpose of the project in relation to your 3 years goals. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this project in the first place?” what is the intention?
- The projects you wrote must support your goals, if there is a project that does not relate to a goal, then you may be missing a bigger goal or something in your vision.
- Don’t get lazy you are almost done, go back and reflect if needed !
- Add the projects to a list that you can keep in front of you throughout the year.
- For each project write down why you do it, and the intended outcome.
- Write down the very next actionable step to push each project forward (don’t try to plan the whole project, just discover the very next step), and record it.
The approach outlined in this blog will provide you with a framework to plan next year. The trick will be to actually execute on this plan. What I’ve learned over the years was that just the act of thinking about it, and writing it all down makes a difference in my life.
Make yourself a habit of reviewing your projects and action lists every week, mark completed items, establish next actions, and complete projects. Those activities will take you closer and closer to your 5 years vision.
Review your roles every 3 months, and refine the list of projects accordingly based on changes in your life (new work, a new family member etc).
Review your goals every 6 months to make sure no major changes occurred … if something change, adjust accordingly.
Repeat this exercise on a yearly basis. You will be pleasantly surprised at how fast you will be approaching your perfect world vision.
Know where you’ve been, where you are and where you go ! you will guarantee a fulfilled and round life style for yourself.
Have a great new year !