The last month is the best time to reflect and prepare for the up and coming year.
It might seem like you didn’t achieve what you wanted to, or that you are no closer to where you think you want to be. But, if you look at your past through the right perspective, chances are you will find more good than you thought.
Typically, by December many people have either given up on their goals, or decided to just put them off until the New Year. However, the more you delay starting a goal, the less likely you are to ever actually getting around to it. That is why the majority of people who make New Years resolutions, or say they will start Monday, never achieve their goals.
Therefore, in order to have your best year yet, you want to reflect on what did or didn’t work in the past and then make an action plan from there.
Reflecting on the good
As humans we tend to be our own biggest critics. We are constantly looking at our faults, mistakes and failures. Therefore, in order to find the good it may take some training and practice. But, once you know what to look for you will naturally see more of the good in your life, while also feeling more confident in your abilities.
So, what do you look for?
Anything and everything positive.
Ok, that was a little vague. I will walk you through some questions and prompts to start your reflection.
- Think of your highlights.
- This includes your happiest memories and accomplishments.
- Try to get at least 10.
- Just start the list now, leave it and come back to it later if necessary.
- Look at your list of resolutions/ goals for 2017. Now, write down everything and anything that you did to work towards them.
- If one of your resolutions was to lose 20lbs, and you currently haven’t lost any weight, but you did join a gym, then that would be something you would write in this list.
- Think both big and small here.
- Write down 3-5 events or situations you faced that challenged you in some way and forced you to grow.
- Think unexpected, life changing events that may have lead to a shift in your priorities, plans or goals.
- Look back to your list and write down what you didn’t accomplish this year.
- Have some of your personal changes over the last year shifted your goals?
- Are all of your resolutions from January still relevant today?
- If they are relevant what stopped you from achieving all of your goals? Did you have too long of a list?
Reflecting on the past is a great way to grow.
However, the only way to learn from it and actually make a difference in your future is to move forward. Even if your list of what you didn’t accomplish seems larger than what you did accomplish the best thing you can do now is let it go and move on. There is nothing you can do about the past, therefore focusing all of your thoughts on your failures is a waste of energy. You will be much better off if you focus your energy on the future and what you can do differently.
You must have a clear definition of success in order to be successful.
The majority of people do not feel successful because their goals are too vague. Therefore they do not know what it will feel or look like when they actually achieve them. Furthermore, you will want to define what success means to you before you can have a plan to get there.
How to define success:
- How will you know when you are successful?
- How will your life be different when you have achieved your goal?
- Describe how you will feel when you have reached your goal. Use as much detail as possible to describe these feelings.
- What do you need to achieve to be successful with your goal?
- How will you be different as a person when you are “successful” in your mind?
- What kinds of habits do people who you view as successful have?
Take your reflections and turn them into a plan of action.
Now it is time to use your reflections and definitions of success to prepare for your best year yet.
Look back at the resolutions you didn’t achieve from last year and decide if they are still important to you. Then you can either adjust your past resolutions so they match your priorities for this year, or you can make entirely new ones. Regardless, you will then want to write down no more than three main goals for 2018.
For the most part, the main reason people fail is that they are overwhelmed by trying to change too much at once. Therefore, by decreasing your number of goals and giving more energy to each goal you increase your chance of success. Another reason people fail is that they do not have a plan or thought of how they will achieve any of their goals. With this in mind, if you break it down and make a plan you increase your chance of success yet again.
How to make a plan:
Answer the following for each of your three goals:
- What can I do today to get me started towards my goal? 1-3 things – start small!
- What can I do this week to get me closer to my goal? 2-5 things
- What can I do this month to get closer to where I want to be and achieve my goal? 3-5 things
For any and all goals carrying over from last year, answer the following:
- What can I do differently this year to be successful?
- What did I do last year that I can do more of, or to a greater extent to achieve more success this year?
- What held me back from being successful last year? How can I overcome that this year?
Now, look back to your list of habits that you believe people who are successful have. From there, write down how you can do more of those habits, and what you need to do differently to align yourself with that kind of lifestyle.
Don’t wait, put your plan into action now.
As I alluded to earlier, people who wait for Monday to make a change are less likely to be successful. So, why would you delay your success any longer? Start taking those first, small steps towards the new you right away. There is no need to wait for a new year for a new you.
The best way to have your best year, is to start now.