Wanting success is never enough, and hope alone is a really poor business plan. If you want to have a great year you’ve got to take a very strategic approach.
Here is how to make 2015 your best year ever. This is the process that I use to make my annual goals. It is a process that I have refined over many years in experimenting with methods that bring results.
In order to complete this exercise you’ll need a journal (a critical element to success anyway. My preferred choice – moleskin)
Let’s start with some “emotional priming”……
Before you launch into thinking about what you “want”, let’s take a moment to first get into a positive emotional state. Once we are in a positive emotional state we’ll be able to hit flow in setting our goals and plans for 2015.
Ok – now take out your journal and on the first page write the following declaration “I’m going to make 2015 my best year ever“. Feel good? Do you believe yourself? Is your emotional state starting to shift?
Let’s up the emotional ante by getting real grateful. Turn the page and then, on the next page I want you to write out the “5 things in your life right now that you are most grateful for”.
Can you see what I’m doing here? I want to get you into a positive emotional state before you launch into what you “want”. Focusing only on what you “don’t currently have” is a great way to feel entitled, upset and discouraged. Those feelings aren’t going to help you achieve in 2015. You’ve got to feel positive, and full of gratitude.
Let’s up the ante even more now. In order to accomplish in 2015, and really make it your best year ever you’ve got to have confidence. The best way to feel confident? Reflect on your past achievements.
Turn the page and then answer the following question, “what 5 things that you accomplished in 2014 are you the most proud of?“. I bet you’re already starting to feel good. Now we are almost ready to start focusing on what we “want” to achieve.
But before we do that, we’ve got to reinforce who we are….
So turn the page and write out a short statement of your life philosophy – this could really be anything, as long as it accurately describes who you are and the way that you are committed to live.
Some ideas –
I always give my best in everything I do; or
I’m not entitled to anything, so I’m grateful for anything that I have; or
I live each day with passion, and complete presence in what I’m doing.
Those are just some ideas (good ones in my opinion), but remember this is your life philosophy so it must resonate true to you. But this is a very important exercise because it forms what is essentially your “personal constitution” – something that you will not deviate from.
Now building off your personal life philosophy, turn the page….
And write down your top 5 core values. What are the “values” that you hold most dear? What values make you come alive? Need help? Here are my top five values:
Contributing Value To Others
Adventure and Risk Taking
You might have more than 5 (I do), and yours might be different than mine (they should since you are different than me). There is no “magic number” but you’ve got to “know yourself”. This part is critical because your goals must match these values.
If your goals don’t match your values then you will be incongruent. You will be trying to achieve something that your heart isn’t in. It doesn’t work. You need internal rocket fuel to achieve great things. Having incongruent goals won’t give you that rocket fuel.
Know yourself, and then make sure you are aligned.
Ok – I think we are now ready to set some goals.
First – answer this question on a new page (and make your answer as specific as possible):
“If my life ends up being perfect (in terms of my career and what I want to accomplish in my life) what would that look like?”
Next – answer this question on a new page (and again make your answer as specific as possible):
“What 5 things would need to happen for 2015 to be my best year ever?”
On the specific part – this is a critical detail you can’t overlook. Clarity is power. Don’t answer either of those questions with generalities (like wanting more money, or being happier). You are setting yourself up for failure if you do. You need to know when you have actually achieved your goal. You’ll never know this unless your goal is very specific.
Now go back to your core values and “stress test” your goals. Are your goals aligned with your values? If not then you are incongruent and you need to re-write your goals until you get it right. So if you need to re-write your goals then go back and do it.
Also – do your 5 goals for 2015 take you closer to your “perfect career / life scenario”? If not then you need to refine your goals.
Ok – now that you have a set of 5 specific goals for 2015 that are aligned with your life purpose and congruent with your core values let’s start getting into the planning process….
Answer this question on a new page:
“What 3 vital behaviours must I do each week in order to achieve these goals?”
By answering these questions you’re tapping into something powerful – the compounding effect of sustained small actions. Books and books have been written on this concept. Neglect it at your peril. It is critical. Your life (and your year) is really just the sum of all the individual weeks and days that comprise these time periods. You don’t grow wealthy, healthy or achieve any form of success overnight. It is never just one day. All successful people have a long track record of repeatedly sustained vital actions. What are yours?
Now turn the page….
We are still working with your vital behaviours. Number the lines vertically up to 52 (as you move down the page), and at the top (horizontally) write your three vital behaviours along the top. Yes – I want you to track when you actually do these things.
What gets tracked gets done. This is another critical success habit I have learned.
Next – I want you to create a reward / accountability mechanism for actually performing these vital behaviours. What reward could you give yourself? And how can you hold yourself accountable to ensure that these behaviours actually get done? I’m really serious on this point. If you want extraordinary results, we have to condition you to take action. Building a reward / accountability mechanism works wonders.
Next – I want you to turn the page back to your 5 goals for 2015. Now (on a new page) answer the following questions:
“What 25 specific things must I do in order to achieve these 5 goals in 2015 (5 per goal)?”
Once you’ve written this list out you have the basics of a strategic plan to achieve your goals. You are half way there. You can build from this plan and write more things (I always do). But at least you are on track – you’ve got a specific set of goals that are aligned with your main purpose in life and are congruent with your values. You’ve also got the foundations of a plan to achieve them.
Now label the next “52” pages in your journal, one per week, for the entire year. On each of these pages, for the entire year, once a week you are going to write down the 20 things you will do that week to move you closer to achieving your 5 goals for the year. You don’t have to do all of them now. I like to use Sunday nights to write out my 20 things for the week. So each week, on a new page, you’ll write out your new list.
Remember – don’t leave success to chance. Hope isn’t a plan. You’ve got to have more than just “wanting it”. You’ve got to know what you want, and you’ve got to plan for it, and you’ve got to DO IT.
Now go back to the first page of your journal – remind yourself of the promise you made – that this year is going to be your best year ever.
Now back it up.