Seeing January 1st approaching on calendars inspires a lot of people to think about their new years resolutions. Often (and this is true for myself as well) this results in a couple of vague plans, maybe one or two goals that are a bit more structured and some awkward moments in the family around January 31th. Well, not this year folks! This is my plan of attack:
1. Take some time off to think about your goals
Meaning: no other activities, no phone, no e-mail. Even if it is not possible to reserve a complete day, having a couple of uninterrupted hours will give you a lot of room to think. Lets call it your Next Years Briefing: you are going to tell yourself what you are going to do next.
2. On approaching NYB, start gathering thoughts on what you want to accomplish
This isn’t Getting Things Done: you don’t have to think about next actions right away (if you do, that’s fine, but keep it light). Update and review your someday/maybe list. If you see bigger projects around the house you want to have done some time in the future, why not make it 2014?
3. Create your personal Briefing Agenda
It all is easier with an agenda. Create a new document, paste the outline below and make it your own.
- What were personal highlights from last year? What did go well
- What didn’t go as smooth as you planned? What would you want to change?
- If you had any goals for last year, how did they go?
For every category, write down all things you can think of that you want to do at some point in the future. Get the notes from step 2 in here as well. Remember, in brainstorming it is not about quality but about quantity.
- Business/work: what kind of projects do you want to take on? What do you want to learn? Things to start, things to quit? Do you see yourself in the current position for the next couple of years?
- Relationship: what are things you want to change about yourself in your relationship? Things to start doing? Things to stop doing? This can also involve ideas for projects to take on together.
- Family: make a list which contains an overview of all the family members with whom you interact with most of the time. For every family member, write down thoughts, ideas, projects, things to ask, things to give. How can you change this relationship? What can you offer to renew and deepen your bond?
- Friends: start by making an overview of your friends. For every friend in your diagram, write down thoughts, ideas, projects, things to ask, things to give. Do you need to make changes to your list of friends? How would you want to see your different friendships grow?
- Spiritual: think about the spiritual things you want to do, experience or work on (if that applies to you). Books to read, church related stuff, etcetera.
- Health: think about the obvious things first. How is your sleeping rhythm? What would you want to change about what you’re eating? Sports? Also think about other aspects of your health, things to check up? Dentals?
- Financial, earning: any big changes coming up in terms of earning? Think about your expenses as well. Where do you want to see yourself in the future, financially? What are your needs?
- Financial, giving: are there changes you want to make in terms of sharing financially? What percentage of what you earn are you giving?
- Financial, saving: what would be your saving goals? Should you start saving for big things that are coming up? What percentage of what you earn are you saving?
- Learning: outside (might be related to) work, what are things you want to pick up? Languages? Skills? Instruments?
The final stage to do is formulate concrete goals out of all the information you’ve gathered during the brainstorm phase. You could probably benefit from structures like SMART goals to make sure you actually create goals you are able to complete in the next year. Pick tools you love to set up reminders. Creating concrete goals and setting up the tools to track them is a whole other subject for another post.
4. Now actually do your NYB
This will take some willpower: there are going to be urgent and not important tasks that need to be done on exactly the moment you want to think about your next year. It won’t be that hard if you have your list with creative input and a personal briefing agenda ready.
5. Schedule a monthly review for your goals
If you have done all of the steps above, the only thing that is left is to get started. To keep you on track, take some time right now to schedule moments each month to review your goals. You could also find someone to share your goals and projects with.
I’m still thinking about ways to improve my so called NYB. This is the time to start preparing for next year to actually do those things you have wanted to do for so long. Looking forward to actually do all of the above at the end of this month!