Finding Your Win for 2018

Borrow a Strategic Tool from the Corporate World.

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The last months of the year are a time for making decisions and commitments for the coming year. In the last months of 2017, I lead several annual strategic planning retreats for different companies. Strategy and planning is an essential practice for large organizations. And it can be crucial for us as individuals.

Rather than start with a blank sheet and thinking of all the things we could do in the coming year, we start by remembering our purpose, our values, and how we want to act to achieve that purpose. Next, we look at where we want to be in five-ten years. That destination will become our North Star, informing the choices we make.

When I strategize for businesses, we consider lots of things: customers, competitors, and strategic position. But when planning our future as individuals, one of the most important pieces is reviewing the past.

As we think about 2018, we want to leave behind regrets — the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of 2017. Those leave us focused on our failures or missed opportunities, and we may miss the exciting new ventures available in 2018. Instead, we want to hold onto the confidence we felt from our accomplishments, the lessons we learned, and the insights we had about ourselves and the world.

Here is an easy way to capture this:

#1. List Your Accomplishments

Think back on the year, pull up your calendar if that helps. On a sheet of paper or your computer, start listing your accomplishments — things you are proud of:

Published my book.

Took a trip with my family.

Worked with 3 new clients.

Paid off my credit card debt.

Don’t be modest! Remember, they don’t all have to be big public accomplishments. These may be things that represent your increasing self-awareness or where you put your attention:

Refused to argue with my old nemesis.

Watched less TV.

Cleaned out the garage.

Keep going until you have a robust list.

Then take a moment to pat yourself on the back for all you’ve accomplished.

#2. Find Your Success Story

Next, look at the list you compiled and pick several of your accomplishments. What were the factors that lead you to be successful in those accomplishments?

Note your answer down. You may bring these factors to bear in 2018.

#3. Identify Your Challenges

This is not a particularly fun part. None of us likes to be reminded of those perceived “failures.” But when we acknowledge them and find the lessons learned, we are often freer to move into the new year unencumbered.

So, now shift gears and list places in your life that you found challenging or fell a little bit short of the mark you set for yourself:

Didn’t reach my fitness goals.

Failed to budget for unexpected house repairs.

Haven’t completed the acknowledgment notes yet.

Before moving on, pause and ask yourself if you are ready to forgive yourself for falling short? Are you ready to release the energy of guilt and regret? Are your ready to leave these behind?

I hope this is a resounding YES from you.

#4. Find the Win

Now comes the best part.

As you look at your accomplishments, the success factors and your challenges ask, What did I learn or realize?

Write them down. After all, you don’t want to have to learn the same lesson twice! And remember, it’s strange but most of us learn as much or more from our failures as from our successes!

Welcome to the New Year. You are now well positioned for an incredible year of wins in 2018!

Looking for more insights about your strengths and gifts? Check out Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next — eBook version available from Amazon/Kindle for only $1.99 until January 12, 2018.