I have never been one who loves New Year’s Resolutions. As someone who is mildly obsessed with list-making and goal-planning, the idea of creating a resolution for an entire year and a fixed period of time just seems odd. What I do love at the end of each year however, is taking stock of the year before and outlining some goals and dreams for the year ahead. You may have seen my instagram stories yesterday reviewing some of the things I did and accomplished in 2017. To me, this ‘recap’ is the best way to take stock and assess where you want the year ahead to go.
In light of that, for today’s New Year’s Day post, I wanted to share with you some questions to ask yourself and strategies to have on hand to help you with goal planning for the ear ahead. From one planning addict to all of you; good luck!
1. Examine The Past Year’s Highs
Take a look back at 2019 and ask yourself what you accomplished and what your favorite moments were. Write out a list of all of these things; from the biggest accomplishments in your professional life, to little accomplishments in your day to day life (… I kept a plant alive for more than a week for the first time in my entire life and you better believe I am putting that in my accomplishment list.) When you can see in black and white all that you’ve done over the year – especially if, like me, on it’s face it seemed like a crappy year – you will be in both a better mood to goal set and will be able to see the launching pad from which you want to grow.
2. Examine The Past Year’s Lows
Well this part sucks, but it’s worth it; so bare with me. Once you’ve spelled out all that you’ve accomplished and all your favorite activities/events from 2017 you need to sit down and ask yourself what the hard parts were. Now some of them will be things over which you have no control; like the passing of a love one, or being sick. I think it is still important to recognize these things as they show you just how strong you were during the year, and all that you have withstood.
More importantly though, will be the lows that you can reflect upon to instill change. If you find for example that many of your lows were fights with friends- work to improve communication in the coming the year. If your lows revolve around feeling lonely, endeavor to join more activities and be more social in the new year. For me, my biggest lows come from blaming myself for negative situations that are not entirely in my control. Therefore, one of my goals for 2018 is to work on actively understanding my role in negative situations and taking less blame when it is right to do so.
3. Strategy: Creating Joy
Based on your above reflections, come up with one specific, targeted action that you can do in the year ahead to create joy yourself. If for example you noticed that many of your highs were around travel, this could be to plan 3 trips for the year. If, as another example, many of your lows were around feeling underappreciated at work set out one thing you can do to change that – maybe that is setting a goal of applying to at least 10 new jobs in the New Year, or maybe that is a goal of scheduling a sit down meeting with your boss to outline your concerns.
4. Strategy: Encouraging Growth
Given that 99.9% of New Year’s Resolutions focus on change, it is only natural to want to change in the New Year. I prefer however to call it growth, not change, for the purposes of goal planning and taking stock. Similar to the above, come up with one “task action” for encouraging growth. If you just can’t commit *like me* develop more than one action for different areas of your life; personal, professional, financial, etc. Instead of making a “I must do better” plan – as most New Year’s Resolutions are, phrase it as a goal to work towards. For example, instead of a New Year’s Resolution to go the gym more, a strategy for encouraging growth in that particular area could be scheduling a weekly work out session with a friend so as to keep each other accountable (and have a weekly excuse to catch up!)
5. Share with Friends!
If you’re comfortable, share your highs and lows and your new found goals and strategies with friends and loved ones. Not only can this be useful in terms of getting their perspective (maybe they can help you write that email to your boss, or can pass on a cookbook of healthy recipes) but it also allows everything to become more concrete. By actively talking about what was good and bad from last year and what you are dreaming of and hoping for in the year ahead you are engaging your brain on those topics and making them more real for yourself.