How to Make This New Year Better Than the Last

 

How is your year going so far? Mine? Great, thanks for asking. I’ve had some career advancement, some financial breakthroughs and have also expanded my professional network. There have been several other great things that happened this year.

Many of the things that happened I planned for and others just happened. As I am writing this, it is still November and I am preparing my goals for next year as well as evaluating this year’s events. In this post I will show you how to prepare for next year to ensure that it will be better than this year.

Nothing beats feeling a sense of accomplishment especially if its intended. I’m telling you, this can happen to you! But, you’ve got to take it seriously and make a decision to move in that direction. That begins by the way you set your goals. Trust me, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure before the year even starts.

 

How I Set My Resolutions

I have heard many times that the reason most people do not reach their goals is because they are not well defined. I experienced this first hand a few years ago. Once I understood how to clearly define my goals, I’ve continued to define my annual goals with precision so that they are more likely to happen.

In 2006 I bought a monthly planner in December. The planner was like many others that were for sale except for one detail that attracted me to it; it had extra blank pages in the back for taking notes. Several pages in fact and it also had a note section on the bottom of each month. “Perfect”, I thought.

On the first page of the notes I listed 18 things that I would like to do, have, or be. One of my “do’s” was to travel to other cities and another one was to increase my savings by 10%. I didn’t categorize them but I did make a note next to each item so I knew that I had a balanced list.

I visited my list several times a day. I looked at each item and evaluated how close or far I was from accomplishing them and what I was doing that day or week that would get me closer to my goals. I used the notes section at the bottom of each month to document my progress.

By May of that year, I had accomplished 12 of the 18 things on the list and two months later I accomplished the other 6. One of the reasons my goals were accomplished so fast was because of how well defined my goals were and I often I evaluated them.

Every year since then I have set my goals in the exact same way. I’ve learned that setting my goals up the right way makes it easier for me to reach them. The real key is to define my goals clearly and map out how I am going to reach them.

Then, I check my progress daily. If I find that I am taking steps in the wrong direction, I correct the action so that I can get back on track. The one thing I don’t want is to slack off for a week and not check my progress and realize that I’ve drifted further away from my goal.

 

Stop/Start/Continue

If you’ve every been in a leadership position you are probably familiar with the “Stop/Stop/Continue” activity. Basically, its an activity where leaders present the question “What should we stop, start, and continue doing to make us better?” The activity is a good way to gauge what’s working and what’s not.

The good thing about this activity is that it can be applied to personal goals as well. Think about this past year. I mean really think about it. What went well for you? Was there any change in you that produced a positive result? Did you start any bad habits this year that you don’t want to carry with you next year? Were there some things that went badly for you?

Once you’ve answered some questions like these, it will be easier for you to see what you should stop doing, start doing, and continue doing, next year. The activities that you find are important because they will act as a road map to your success next year. For example, if you’ve pick a habit of watching 6 hours of TV a day instead of reading something beneficial, then repeating that habit next year will insure the same result this year.

When I prepare my stop/start/continue activity, I do it for different parts of my life. I’ll do the activity for my career, finances, health, relationships etc. This way I get a clear picture of how some habits can effect different parts of my life.

 

Starting Now (The Preseason)

If you are reading this when it was published, you have some time before the New Year begins so start now! If you are stumbling upon this later, no worries, you can still start now and have an effective year. So, I’ll speak to those of you who are reading this in December first.

In December:

Now is a great time to prepare because in a little while you will be hearing a lot about New Year’s resolutions. You’ll also begin to realize that another year has passed, quickly, and you may not be where you thought you’d be the same time last year.

Ok so let’s begin. Once you’ve outlined your Stop/Start/Continue, its time for you to, um stop, start and continue. But since you are in the preseason, its important to do this in the right way. During the next few days your goal is to slowly prepare yourself for your new year and develop some new habits that will help you accomplish the items on your list.

Lets say your goal is to lose weight next year. One of the things that you would want to stop doing is taking in too many unnecessary calories. If you have a sweet tooth and you indulge in a brownie every evening after dinner, then its time to slowly work that brownie out of your routine.

To get the most out of your preseason, replace that brownie with something else, preferably something that will get you closer to your goal. For example turn that brownie into an apple every night.

After December:

If you’ve missed the New Year cut off, don’t worry, you can still make this year better than your last. But that’s only if you start today. If you want changes to be made by the end of the year, you will have to do some adjusting of your goals so that they are reachable in a reasonable time frame.

I still recommend that you give yourself about 30 days to prepare for the life change that is about to happen. Take those 30 days to prepare yourself for living a new life, building lasting habits, and removing negative obstacles and distractions that will get in your way.

So how do you feel about the upcoming year? Is your outlook optimistic? What do you plan to accomplish?

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  • http://cleanyou.com William

    Great post, setting goals and accomplishing them is one of the best feelings. I like the idea of using the calendar 

  • ralphjp

    Thanks!  The calendar has done wonders for me.

  • Anonymous

    Planning or preparation is probably the most important part of successful goal setting.

  • ralphjp

    Absolutely!  Its crucial to success