Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Over the years, I have committed myself to new projects in January like many others.  And like many others, the fascination wanes within the first 30 days of the year.  In other years, I resolved to only add fun items to my list - read books, organize a party.   Ultimately I realized that I like the idea of doing a review of my life and setting goals is a proven way of getting things done.   At the beginning of January each year, I now do my year-end review and next year's objectives in 3 activities.

1.  Year-End Review

Years ago, my friend Monique told me of a dedicated journal where she makes one entry a year.  In this entry, she writes about what she accomplished in the previous year and sets out goals for the following year. 

The year I made fabric-covered journals for gifts, I decided to adopt Monique's practice.  In my book, I review the past year in a journalistic style.  Some years I have wrote about my vision of the next year but it is basically a recording of events.  This year marks my 18th entry - 18 years of what I have done. 

This activity provides the foundation for the next steps.  It helps me get into the big-picture mode.
Looking at the Big Picture - January 2, 2012

2.   Annual Review

A couple of years ago when I was taking the travel writing course at MatadorU, I stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau's website - The Art of Non-Conformity.  Chris takes a week every year to do an Annual Review.   Each year since 2005, he blogs about his review and the setting of goals for the upcoming year.

Two questions he asks himself that I have adopted are:

What went well this year?

What did not go well this year?

I write down the answers to each of these questions.

I did a synopsis of last year's goals which is what happens in the next step.  I had created 47 goals.  I completed 33.  I am pleased with the 70% success rate.  Of the goals that I didn't complete, a few were too vague (inviting more greens into my life) or were too big, have been a struggle for me (Australia), or ended up not being important to me.   Chris Guillebeau suggests that if there are goals that haven't been achieved, it is an indication that the bar is raised high. 

3.  Next Year's Goals

The third part of the exercise is setting goals for the next year.  I have chosen a few categories some of which are the same from year to year like travel and career and some of which I decide upon at the time. 

In addition to the categories, I write down what I hope to achieve.  Under Health last year, I wrote:  to care for my body so it ages well.  I had 3 sub-categories under Health last year.  In each of these categories (or sub-categories), I write down 3 to 5 measurable goals.  For example, one of the goals for health was to sign up for a yoga class.

This year's categories are:
  • Writing
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Travel
  • Work
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Personal
  • Financial
 Why I like this process:
  • I get focussed - I know without a doubt now that a year can go by and important goals get lost.  Day to day life can be caught up in the details.
  • I get energized - Focusing on what is important to me sets a great tone for the year.  
  • It feels like a renewal, just when the body is going through sugar and wheat withdrawal. 

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