For many, the start of a new year brings with it an abundance of new energy and fresh enthusiasm. The majority of people find themselves setting New Year’s resolutions but unfortunately, many get a few months into the year and find that nothing much has changed. Worse still they become busy with their businesses, careers, or home lives (or all three) and don’t even have the time or focus to notice that their well-intentioned goals have fallen by the wayside.
In this article, I’m going to run through an exercise you can use to get in front of the game in 2020. A process that is so powerful that could skyrocket your year.
If you look back over the last few years of goals, what you may notice is the goals we’re setting are the same or variations of goals we’ve set previously. Strangely it doesn’t seem to matter what it is–it might be to increase sales revenue by 30%, grow your team, exercise regularly, lose some weight, or commit to a regular date night with your partner. Whatever the goals, if we find ourselves a few months into the year and notice that we’re not progressing towards our desired outcome, our motivation wanes. We begin to blame ourselves for lacking the willpower to push through and achieve what we set out to do.
I’ve worked with many people who find themselves in this cycle and I’ve noticed that the problem is rarely a lack of willpower–usually, it’s the lack of planning and implementation.
I’m not just referring to your standard business planning and targets. This is still absolutely essential, but only once you’ve completed the deeper level planning around purpose and your why. The most detailed, effective plan to get you to London as quickly as possible is in no way helpful if you actually want to be in New York, is it?
Most of us are in the habit of dealing with what turns up rather than planning what turns up. We wait for the right things to show up–job, business deal, partner, etc. Many people roll with the punches and find themselves down paths they didn’t actively choose. Consider your reasons for starting in your current career or business. Did you make a proactive decision to pursue it? Or was your journey more passive, a multitude of smaller decisions leading you to where you are now?
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing–if you absolutely love what you’re doing and where you are that is wonderful. Even if you start every day with a Pollyanna like bounce in your step, I’d suggest it’s still good practice to check in regularly and make sure you’re happy with where the river of life is taking you.
No doubt you’ve heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “If you don’t plan, you are planning to fail.” Yet very few of us take the time to plan at the highest level. It’s generally not something we learn at school or university. Usually, we come across Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals in a workplace training setting but even this is more about making the best of what’s currently going on–not completely wiping the slate clean and asking, “What do I really want my life to look like?”
So here is an exercise that can make 2020 your best year yet. Find a time when you won’t be disturbed and make sure you have a pen and paper or a journal to write in. Imagine you needed to start it all again, a completely fresh slate. You have no business, no home, no mortgage. You get to start it all again from the beginning and this time you get to build your life exactly how you want it. Try to suspend reality long enough so you can feel your deepest desires and purpose. If you find your mind wandering to thoughts about your current reality, put them to the side until you answer the following questions. (Don’t overthink this, go with your initial feeling and be sure to write your answers down.)
If I could start again –
What do I want to do with my life?
Why do I want to do that?
With whom do I want to do it?
Where do I want to live?
Your answers to the above will give you insight into your current direction. Consider them alongside the goals you’re working towards. Is there anything you’d like to change?
If you would like to take this process one step further you can download a free copy of the Focus on Growth six-monthly review by joining The Focused Insider. This worksheet will take you through a more in-depth planning process to help you make 2020 your best year yet. Enjoy!