There is nothing that inspires like a good classic proverb. A favorite of mine is the one that says, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The proverb talks about days, but the principle holds true for years as well. As we quickly approach the end of this year, we all get a fresh start. Each new year is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, re-evaluate our direction, and set new goals. In this article, Blueprint LEADERSHIP wants to share seven important steps that will guide you toward intentionally navigating your upcoming year and all the potential that lies within you. We strongly recommend that you set aside some focused time to walk yourself through this year-end exercise.
Step 1: Reflect on 2014. Acknowledge both the good and the bad of the past year by taking a realistic assessment of your accomplishments/joys and disappointments/sorrows. What strengths emerged in your life? What mattered most to you? What were the top 2-3 inhibitors or hurdles that limited you?
Step 2: Create an attitude of gratitude. Spend at least fifteen minutes brainstorming all of the things you are grateful for in your life. Start with the obvious, but once you get going the list quickly grows. Your list may include family, health, a home, a favorite spot, freedom, etc.
Step 3: Identify your top values. Values are the rudder of life. Our life finds greatest fulfillment when it reflects the core internal values we hold as important. What are your top 3-5 values in priority order?
Step 4: Evaluate your balance. See the Life Balance Wheel to the right. You can modify these categories as you see fit, but evaluate your level of satisfaction in the areas of life that matter most to you. The scale is 1-7 with 1 indicating very low satisfaction and 7 indicating very high satisfaction. How consistent are the ratings across areas; that is, how well-balanced is your wheel? If you experience lower satisfaction ratings in some areas, what do you want to do about them in 2015?
Step 5: Write your mission statement. Your mission statement should include 5-7 sentences that describe your purpose in life. It defines what you devote your life to and find worthwhile. Your mission statement will include your top values, strengths, and long-term goals. A good way to begin thinking about your mission statement is to envision your 80th birthday party. What do you want people to say about you and your life?
Step 6: Choose goals that matter. In the context of your overall mission statement, strengths, values, and life balance wheel, what goals do you want to establish for yourself in 2015? A goal is specific, measurable, and time-bound. It is important that your goals truly matter and are compelling to you. Brainstorm all of the things you want in 2015. Avoid editing your list at this point. Write down everything that comes to mind.
- Go over your list and ask yourself, “Is this something that I really want, or is it something that I think I should want?” Take the “should’s” off your list.
- Review your list again and ask yourself, “Is this something that I can realistically accomplish in 2015?” Cross off or modify anything that is not realistically achievable in 2015.
- Prioritize your top 3-5 goals. Force yourself to prioritize the goals that will have the biggest impact in the coming year. Many of us live diluted lives because we try to do too many things at once.
- Review your top 3-5 goals to ensure they are specific and measurable. For example, “I will spend at least 2 hours of 1:1 time per week with each child and my spouse,” is a better goal than, “I will spend more time with the family.”
- Record and post your top 3-5 goals in a location where you will see them frequently.
Don’t worry about getting your goals perfectly articulated. You will have all year to revise, update, and clarify the goals. Start with your best understanding at this point. Be flexible to amend the goals as life changes and new opportunities arise. The goals are just a tool. Bettering your life is the end goal.
Step 7: Make it happen. Establish accountability and track your progress. Accomplishing goals in life is like losing weight. Most often we know what we need to do (eat right and exercise), but we don’t always do what we know we should (oops, French fries and milkshake weren’t on the goal list). One of the best ways to accomplish goals is to find an accountability partner who will keep you on track. This helps direct your efforts more effectively. None of us is perfect. Please, give yourself grace along the journey.
We at Blueprint LEADERSHIP value you as an individual and professional. We hope this seven step process helps you become more purposeful about what you want to be, do, and become in 2015. We’re looking forward to another great year with you! May you find deep satisfaction and fulfillment as you make this your best year ever!