I started taking stock of my year in 2002. I found it useful at the end of the year to list what I have accomplished, what I am thrilled about, what I wished had turned out differently, what I am proud of, what I learned, what were the pleasant surprises, and the not so pleasant ones, what I want to develop as a habit, and what I want to do differently in the future.
My plan for 2005 is to make it the most amazingly satisfying year yet. If you follow these simple steps and do the work, you can have incredible results too.
First Figure out What You Want
In order for the year to be satisfying, the results and outcome of your actions have to fulfill YOUR needs, expectations, wishes, and desires. So, naturally the first step is to figure out what those needs, wishes and desires are.
To do that, set aside some time, find a quiet place, arm yourself with a pad and pen and complete the exercise below. List the different areas in your life that are important to you. Here’s a typical list to get you started: your health, your financial situation, your relationships, and your career. You can use these or substitute some items or add to them.
Next, choose one area; any one is fine as long as it has importance to you. Then list the needs and desires that you have regarding this area of your life. When you run out of needs, then move on to the next area you want to achieve results in, and start listing your needs and desires for that area. What usually happens is that one area will trigger additional thoughts about another one. So, you don’t need to be systematic about this. You just want to get through all the areas you want to focus on, and get as complete a list as possible.
Now that you know your desires, converts those into outcomes that will satisfy these desires. For example, one of your desires may be to improve your financial situation. The outcome that satisfies that desire is to have a reserve fund in the bank. So, go through your list of desires and define your outcomes.
Then convert your outcomes into goals. Building on our example, a goal could be to have put aside a reserve fund of $5,000 by the end of the year. Check how well you have defined your goals by verifying that they are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-based. Go through your list and convert your outcomes into goals.
My suggestion on developing goals is to try to have a selection of short-term (1-3 months), medium-term (around 6 months) and long-term goals (1 or more years). It is important that you have all three because if your list consists only of big, hairy, long-term goals, it is hard to keep yourself motivated. But if you can celebrate accomplishing a few goals each quarter, it is much easier to keep going.
Now Figure out What You Have to Do
By now, you might be a little overwhelmed because you have 4 pages of goals. So, it is time to prioritize. Review your list, and rank the importance of each goal. Choose a simple system, like assigning them a rank of 1, 2 or 3, with 1 being the most important to you. I have to stress again that this is about what is important to YOU, not what you are expected to care about, or what society thinks should be important to you. Unless you truly care about the outcome, you will find it hard to motivate yourself when it comes time for action.
Now select the most important goals you want to work on. Don’t discard the rest, just put them aside till you have time for them. Now, convert the goals into actions – what do you have to do to accomplish the goal?
Again, building on our example: to save $5000 in a year, you have to put aside $420 a month. Can you do that? How? One action might be to establish a monthly budget that enables you to set aside that amount each month. Or another action might be to review your monthly expenses and decided what you can cut out to enable you to contribute to the reserve fund. Put as much detail as you can in your actions. Make sure that you give yourself deadlines for completing them. If you have an on-going action (like working out 3 times a week), assign yourself the action to develop a tracking system to let you know whether you are sticking to that commitment of not.
Now you have your road-map for the whole year. All you have to do is to take the actions needed for success. Do a check-in quarterly to see how you are progressing. Make adjustment based on what you have done and what might have changed in your life (nothing should be set in stone). Celebrate all your successes along the way, and just keep going. At the end of the year, you will be amazed at all that you have accomplished, and how good you will feel.
© 2004 Inez O. Ng