3 Questions to Help You Prepare for a Productive Year
Now is the time to create reasonable goals that are attainable at any point in the year.
Yes, I know it’s already March. I also know that many people are still trying to plan so they can have a productive year — which is why I’m pushing this out now. Published beyond the onslaught of the numerous posts and articles you’ve bookmarked to come back to “soon,” this one should be hitting you when everyone else on the internet has moved on, so let it be the one that really kicks you into gear.
As you likely already know, there’s a difference between knowing you can do something and knowing you will do something. Will denotes a firmer commitment and acknowledges that not all the “can dos” will be accomplished. When you’re striving to understand priorities and realities through this — especially during transition months like January and February — there are two initial questions you can ask yourself to bring about greater clarity:
- How I might do these things?
- Am I capable of that?
Asking these questions provides the opportunity to set yourself up for success while avoiding the shame story if you don’t get this done. It forces that project cagematch and ensures that what you’re pursuing has merit and what doesn’t match up with those pursuits is let go.
Our (free!) Annual Reflection Worksheet worksheet outlines some great questions to help you evaluate where you’ve been and where you’re going — it’s a great springboard to set productive and realistic goals for the upcoming year. Commit to spending a little time on this activity and then be willing to be honest with how things went. By doing this, you’ll be able to create effective and reasonable goals that are attainable in your new year.
In addition to the questions on the Annual Reflection Worksheet, there are three questions I like to ask myself when planning for a productive year:
1. What one, two, or three things do you want to be celebrating at the end of the year?
There are many things we might do, but what must go on this list? Your “musts” will show you where you want to be, so work backward from these things. As Creative Giants, we always have five million things we want to accomplish, but visualizing ourselves celebrating specific things can help narrow this focus.
2. Where am I in my personal journey and where do I want to be at the end of the year?
We often think about our work but don’t realize that we ourselves are a project that requires some cultivation and development. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, employee, mom, college student, or someone else (or all of these), you can’t separate yourself between your personal life and your professional life. As you think through your personal journey, consider all aspects of your life. Maybe you want to gain some ground in Crossfit or yoga or learn to cook in a new way. Maybe you want to develop an artistic talent or work on some parenting skills. Perhaps you want to deepen your relationship with friends or remodel your bathroom.
Consider these seven areas as you work through your vision of the end of the year celebration:
- Family & Friends
- Significant Other / Romance
- Fun & Recreation
- Personal Growth / Creative Projects
- Physical Environment
- Career / Business
3. What important areas of my life or work have I neglected in the past year that I want to pull forward and prioritize this year?
Once you reflect on the year you’ve just experienced, you’ll probably be able to identify some areas that didn’t get the attention you wish they had. That’s okay. We grow, we change, and our goals reflect these changes. Attending to certain goals means other things don’t get done — it’s the power of saying no to give an exceptional yes. For me right now, my health has my attention. Last year I had some health complications and as a result, my health has become one of this year’s priorities. I know by giving this one area some attention, I’ll be happier and more productive in all areas of life.
Additionally, I didn’t do as much reading last year as I normally do because I was working my own book. This year I want to catch up on some reading. A number of people from our community have written some things that I really want to get into. Lastly, on a personal level, Angela and I haven’t spent as much time together as we have in the past, so this is a priority for me this year as well.
Focusing on our goals can be difficult, but the satisfaction that comes from honing our vision is worth the effort. Let me know how you’re planning for your end-of-the-year celebration and keep me updated on how your momentum is building as the year progresses.
Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.