I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. For me, they’ve become trivialized to the point of being meaningless. Nevertheless, whether or not we like it, a new year is being thrust upon us, making this an opportune time to reflect on the past 12 months and engage in some serious planning for the coming year. However, in order to figure out where we want to be, we have to determine where we are right now, as well as the steps we need to take to get to where we want to be.
Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be well on your way towards having a product new year:
- Assess: Honestly assess the past 12 months. What were the low points? What problems did you encounter? Where did you fall short? Self-examination and identifying where you went wrong, did not take action or took the wrong course of action is the most important part of this exercise. Ultimately, we only have control over our own thoughts and action, not those of others. For that reason, we need to maintain an inward focus and determine the things about ourselves that we can change. What could have you done differently that might have resulted in more positive outcomes over the last year?
- Set goals: Write down 2-3 personal goals that you want to achieve over the next 12 months. Your goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-specific). Here are some examples of SMART goals: 1) By June 2013 I will have lost 10 pounds and lowered by body fat percentage by 3 percentage points; and 2) By the end of 2013 I will be knowledgeable about basic financial principles relating to my business.
Notice how each of the above goals is SMART: first, each goal is specific (lose weight, lower body fat percentage, improve knowledge about business finance principles); measurable (you can measure weight loss, body fat percentage and knowledge about business finance); realistic (losing 10 pounds and reducing body fat percentage by 3 points are both realistic as is increasing knowledge about business finance); attainable (all three of these goals can be realistically attained within the outlined time frame); and time-specific (all three goals have reasonable time frames associated with each).
- Identify: Now look at the goals you wrote down and list the action steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals. Number the steps.
- Plan: After you have identified the steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals, it’s time to outline a specific action plan. Next to each action step you listed in the previous step, place a date by which you will complete the task.
- Reassess: Review your progress on a regular basis to see how far you’ve come. If you find yourself falling short of any milestones, identify the causes and conditions that have contributed to your inability to make adequate progress.
The point of these exercises is that success is not an accident and it does not happen just by hoping of wishing for it. If you truly want to be successful, then you need to develop an action plan to achieve your specific goals. And a big part of this involves undergoing a thorough self-assessment so you can understand your role in the situation.