No one ever forged their success on the anvil of complacency. The process of reflection is pretty common, especially in these early days of January each year~but what is far less than common is taking the time to take an active role in how the upcoming year will shape up. This process of self reflection helps maintain a conscious awareness of where we’ve been ...but the second half of the equation, the planning, will take us where we intend to go.
I suggest taking 30 minutes per week, perhaps on a quiet Sunday evening to ask yourself these twenty questions...every week...all year.
1. What did I learn in the last week? This should be an easy one. If you struggle for an answer, perhaps something needs to change. Regardless of how old you are or how smart you fancy yourself....you should be learning something new every week. It doesnt have to be something huge, just something new.
2. What was my greatest accomplishment over the past week? Taking time to revel in the satisfaction of your accomplishments each week not only allows us to see how far we have come, it also gives us the confidence and motivation to take on the upcoming week. You should only be in competition with one person- yourself...to be the best that you can be.
3. Which moment from the past week was my most memorable...and why? Recalling what we felt was important in a given moment reminds us what is most important to our most inner self. If it was memorable to you, perhaps it would be memorable to others and can be worked into your goals. Be sure to share with others what you found most memorable each week and take the time to hear what they found notable. Knowing yourself and whats important to you is something many of us sadly take forgranted.
4. What was easy for me in the past week? If its easy for you, quite simply- its a strength. Capitalize on your strengths and know what you are good at- use them to your advantage.
5. What were my biggest struggles in the past week? Take a few moments to determine what kept you from your progress this week. It may have been something completely out of your control. Other times, its procrastination in disguise. Putting the setbacks to reast each week will not only give yourself a break for realizing sometimes things dont go just as planned- but it also helps us plan for future setbacks.
6. What can I do now to reduce my stress in the upcoming week? Being organized and getting small tasks done in advance are huge time savers and generally reduce stress exponentially. Things such as packing lunches in advance, getting gas, having the laundry done will free up more time to get your goals accomplished. When your brain is filled with menial tasks that must be done it draws our attention from our goals. Get them done ahead of time and they will be off the table, leaving you more time to dedicate to the week's goals.
7. Where did I waste the most time last week? Simply put-figure out what things you spent too much unnecessary time on last week and strive to avoid making the same pitfalls in the coming week. Remember....Lost time is never found again.
8. Wash the slate clean of...? What excess baggage (physical or emotional) am I carrying that I can put down and not carry into the upcoming week with me. The lighter you travel, the easier the journey.
9. What have I been avoiding? We all have things we love to avoid (sometimes for weeks at a time). Set up some time to get these undesirables off your plate.
10. Who do I need to talk to? Make a concerted effort to maintain regular communication with those close to you. Make the same effort with new contacts-try to meet at least one new potential networking opportunity each week.
11. Who do I need to thank? Gratitude. Remember to thank people, often. Send a note to someone new every week....even if its a thank you email for someone leaving a kind comment on your blog. People will remember it.
12. Who can I help this week? Realizing there are other people in the world seems easy enough but sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own life we forget others may need a helping hand. Again, it doesnt need to be earth shattering...send along a helpful link, leave a sympathetic comment to someone expressing sadness... a little goes a long way.
13. What are my top three goals for the short term (next 1-3 years)? You won't make notable progressions in life if you don’t setup realistic (<---key word) short term goals for yourself. Your pride will come in realizing these goals. Weekly checks help you get there.
14. Have my recent actions moved me any closer to my goals? Decide which things you have done in the past week which were most efficient. if you cant think of how something moved you closer to your goal, perhaps its time to reassess your need for that activity.
15. What’s the next step for each goal? Goals work cumulatively, don't miss a step or the end result may not be what you had hoped for. As much as possible, be sure you are on track each week. If something has taken a back seat due to life circumstances....make a concerted effort to make it happen in the coming week.
16. What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? Herein lies your motivation. If you are unable to think of anything, schedule something to look forward to.
17. What am I afraid of? Consciously address your fears on a weekly basis and slowly work on resolving them. For some of us this is something as simple as the fear of success....sounds crazy but I have encountered more people than I care to admit who are actually fearful of their own success and tend to put a very short ceiling overhead. The sky can be the limit, trust yourself. Also, measure your success with your own ruler. Don't allow someone else's idea of success to cloud your pride of accomplishment.
18. If I knew I only had a week to live, how would I choose to spend my time and with whom? Life is very short, in fact- shorter every second. Be cognizant of the moments you have and how you spend them. We all have things we MUST do but try not to waste too much time on other's obligations. Try to spend more time with the people you care about- you never know when or if you will see them again.
19. Are the goals I am working on still in line with what I want? True wisdom is the byproduct of life experiences. Sometimes as we go along we realize that some of the goals we have set for ourselves are no longer in line with what we wish to accomplish for ourselves. Things change. As long as you dont find yourself just ditching your goals randomly, feel free to give yourself a pass to say that perhaps this is no longer for me and I need to rid it from my goals sheet in order to move forward with my other plans.
20. What am I most grateful for? Being grateful is something most of us take forgranted. Its all about the little things. It’s a smart way to keep things in perspective and something to bring to the forefront of your mind regularly.
Goals: They are a necessary evil, a way to measure ourselves against what we expect from ourselves. We expect much from others, yet sometimes neglect to expect much from ourselves. Don;t wake up and go through the motions every day. Live your life, don't merely exist in it. As this new year dawns, its a great time to take stock of where we are and where we will be at the beginning of next year. You'll notice I said where we WILL be and not where we HOPE TO be... You know what you want and where you want to be. Now you have to make it happen for yourself. Time is precious, manage yours effectively. You've got 52 Sundays....GO!