As I said on Tuesday, I’m psyched out of my mind about the year ahead. Oh, the possibilities! I’m convinced that the best way to make those possibilities a reality is to create a written plan of action. The process of writing forces you to articulate how you’d like to see the next year unfold. The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it is to make it happen. Writing things down increases the chances of actually manifesting them.
Planning the year ahead is going to take some time (a couple of hours) and a lot of thought, but don’t resist. If this were a project someone gave you at work, you’d do it, right? Well, this is one project you should actually care about!
Here is a goal-setting structure that I’ve used for several years. Like everyone else, over time I tend to drift away from my plan, but it’s better than nothing. On New Year’s Day, I’ll post the second half. In the meantime, start putting some thought into what you’d like to achieve in each of the following areas.
Health and fitness. Forget about what you’d like to weigh—that’s not the focus here. Think more about your overall health. Your body is the vehicle that gets you around on this earth—do you really want it to go to shit?
Write down some concrete steps you can take to improve your health, and I mean stuff you’ll actually do. If you’re like me and can’t bear the thought of going to a gym, for God’s sake, don’t put that down. Be realistic, and be specific. If you like to walk, can you commit to walking a half hour three times a week? Good. Make that part of your fitness plan.
In your calendar, pencil in reminders in the appropriate months for your physical and blood work, Pap, mammogram, eye, and dental appointments. Make and keep those appointments. What could be more important than your health?
Find a fitness buddy—you’ll be much more likely to walk, run, work out, or whatever you want to do.
Buy yourself a pedometer, and I mean a good one, not a piece of crap. The more you spend on it, the more likely you’ll be to use it. I got this one from Brookstone for Mike for last Christmas; he loved it until he forgot it in the wash. (Guess what I bought again this year?)
If you’re looking for an exercise video that kicks ass, get the Original Buns of Steel DVD. Don’t buy this through Amazon; it’s a lot cheaper if you go through instructor Greg Smithey’s website. Tell him Linda Lou sent you, but don’t say I give him the finger during the hard parts.
Work and professional. How do you feel about your professional life? Does your work bring you joy? If not, do you at least have entertaining co-workers to help you get through the day? If work is a source of stress or you can’t frame your current job in a positive way, it’s time to move on. Work takes up a big chunk of your life, and life is too short to be miserable.
If you haven't already, now is a good time to identify your God-given talents. What do you excel at? What do you do better than 90 percent of everyone walking on earth? Does your work allow you to let those talents shine?
Maybe work is going fine. What can you do to make it better? What would you need to do to get a promotion?
Make a list of the concrete steps you can take to advance yourself professionally. Identify the skills that would make you more marketable and commit to obtaining those skills. Take a continuing education class through your local community college. Look into the online courses offered through www.lynda.com. Update your resume. Join a professional association and network with people who are doing what you’d like to do. Do whatever you need to ensure your source of income brings you joy!
Activities and personal growth. Okay, maybe your dream job isn’t making the best use of your God-given talents, but the pay is decent and it doesn’t drain every last bit of your energy. That’s cool. But you still want to make the most of your time off the clock, right? And maybe find a way to share those talents with the world?
You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me they should write a book. Or do stand-up comedy. I usually respond with a matter-of-fact, “So do it,” which is invariably met with the deer in the headlights look. Yeah, yeah, yeah—it’s a lot easier to be a blowhard saying, “I could do this” and “I could do that” than actually taking the steps to make it happen.
But why not take the freakin’ steps and do it? Don’t know where to start? Do some research! Could the Internet make it any easier to learn about anything? You have to start somewhere, and when you walk in the mist, you get wet. Start walking in the mist!
Personal and creative projects always go on the back burner. That’s because nothing will go wrong if they’re not done and there’s generally no sense of accountability. No one’s asking, “Hey, are you done with that painting yet? When can we hear that song you’ve been working on? What have you been doing lately to overcome that fear of public speaking?”
It’s up to you. Make a list of personal goals you’d like to achieve and list the concrete steps you can take to help you achieve them.
Travel. Make a list of the day trips, long weekends, and vacations you’d like to take in 2011. Again, be realistic; if a trip around the world isn’t feasible right now, don’t put it down. Pencil these trips in on your calendar. Consider the gift of travel for a special birthday or other occasion. Taking a trip with a loved one creates memories that last far longer than any present or gift card.
You should have plenty to think about for now. On Saturday, I’ll give you the other eight areas to plan for in 2011. Isn't this fun???