Imagine that it is December 31st of next year. You are really proud of yourself because you finally did it! After years of trying or talking about trying, you finally accomplished an important goal. How will that feel? Can you see yourself victorious?
With a few weeks left in this year, now is the time to get ready for next year. Success does not just happen. You have to plan. Here’s how to use the next few weeks to get ready for the 52 weeks ahead.
1. Assess this year. What did you plan to accomplish? What went well? What didn’t go so well? What needs to change? One of my goals for 2017 was to declutter my home. I thought the project would take three months. It took me 10 months. I enjoyed moving unloved stuff out of my space, and it was easy for me to spend at least 15 minutes a day on it. Because I was consistent, there was continuous progress, and I finished. What habits do you need to continue?
2. Address the incompletions. Is there a book lying around that you “should” read, but you can’t get into it? Do you have all the equipment for an organic garden that you never started? All these little incomplete projects rent space for free in your head. Kick them out. Either complete the projects or decide you’re not going to complete them. Earlier this year, I gave away most of my lawn equipment. I don’t rake leaves, trim hedges or push a wheelbarrow. Every time I gave away something I didn’t use, a little bit of weight lifted off me. Having several unfinished projects makes it harder to focus your attention on what’s important.
3. Choose three goals for next year. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year. If you accomplish your three goals before the end of the year, you can always add new ones. By limiting yourself to three goals, you will be able to focus your time, energy and resources on what is really important to you.
4. Give next year a name or a theme. I have one huge goal for next year. I’ve decided to name my year, “La Piece de Resistance.” It’s a French term that means masterpiece or main thing. That’s a huge theme for me to live up to. When I get off track, my theme will remind me that I made a big promise to myself. Although I didn’t plan it, this year was my year of editing. Not only did I declutter my home, but I ended toxic relationships, and I streamlined my morning routine from two hours to one hour (ish). Choose a name or a theme that you like, but that will also motivate you when the excitement of starting is over and you can’t see the finish line.
5. Gather your resources. What will you need to be successful next year? Do you need to do research? Do you need a coach or a mentor? Now is a good time to find what you need for next year. You will need to invest time and maybe money in accomplishing any goal. A few weeks ago, I ordered a $60 life and business planner. I haven’t spent that much money on a calendar in several years. It arrived the other day. It is everything I could ever want in a planner. It is brightly colored. Encouraging scriptures are on just about every page. There is a two-year planner, a monthly view, a weekly view and lined spaces for appointments and to-do lists. When I look at this perfect calendar, I know that I must justify the investment by having a successful year.
6. Grab the low-hanging fruit. One of the easiest things that you can do is to visualize success. If your goal is to write a book, imagine yourself autographing copies. Whatever your goal is take a few minutes a day and create success in your mind. Also, practice affirmations. Call yourself what you want to be. Say out loud, “I am a writer.” “I am a wife.” “I am a physician.” “I am a successful entrepreneur.” Use your mind and your mouth to accelerate your progress.
7. Plan your rewards. For each of your goals, plan a big reward that you will give yourself when you accomplish your goal. But also plan incremental rewards. If you’re writing a book, give yourself a small reward after you complete each chapter. Just make sure your reward is consistent with your goal. If your goal is to exercise four days a week, you could reward yourself with new workout attire once you’ve exercised four days a week for a month. What’s important is that you plan the rewards in advance and that you follow through and reward yourself.
No excuses! Get started now so that next year will be your best year ever.