Can you believe it?!
The year is almost at a close - and what a year it has been! December is traditionally the month for reflective mode and thinking about our next-step plans.
So how can you end the year on a high and empower yourself to move into the new year with clarity, focus, and motivation?
This article contains a 6-step formula that will help you reflect on this year and then plan the next in a way that your best self can thrive.
Let’s dive in!
Step 1. Reflect
Before you start thinking about your next-step goals, take some quality time to reflect on the year that’s about to close. Reflection is a powerful way to prep for effective planning because it allows you to see your year through the lens of hindsight.
Hindsight is 20/20 vision. When you look back knowing what you know now, it’s so much easier to see why certain things didn’t work out as expected! Hindsight allows you to extract the lessons, and learnings life gives you through experience. In turn, your next steps become more powerful and confident.
What’s your last year's reflection?
Here are some questions to think over.
1. What were the highlights of your year and why?
2. What didn’t go as planned, and what did you learn from these experiences?
3. What brought you joy?
4. What created frustration and discomfort?
5. What would you like to leave in the past year - and what would you like to take forward into the new year?
Step 2. Own who you’ve become?
We live in an age of instant gratification fuelled by dopamine hits! We want everything NOW - including our biggest goals! But that’s not how life works. Life isn’t about getting to a particular destination as fast as we possibly can. Instead, it’s about the constant evolution and learning to smell the roses along the way.
In the words of Zig Ziglar, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Even if you had to let go of big goals and dreams, making them no longer possible, humans are adaptable. We have a beautiful ability to pivot and shift our focus and figure things out with what we’ve got. So while the past year may not have been the year you imagined, it gave you something.
So take some time to figure it out.
Grab your journal and reflect on the person you’ve become BECAUSE of your experiences.
Look back to the beginning of the year and get clear on the gap you did close.
Step 3. What now?
Given who you are and what you’ve achieved, what do you want to do next?
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you love to create in the year ahead to build a life that nurtures and expresses your best self? Remember, it’s not about the big goals you achieve, but the happiness you create for yourself as a result of the things you choose to commit to.
It’s always a good idea to start with a brainstorm of possibilities. You can use the life categories in the BestSelf Benchmark to help organize your thoughts:
3. Work / Career
5. Personal growth
Ask yourself, what would you like to achieve in each of these areas? Don’t censor your thoughts at this stage; just write everything done.
It’s also fun to write out your bucket list. You’re more likely to achieve the desires you write down because they’re no longer just a concept in your mind.
Step 4. Prioritize
It’s often a mistake to try and tackle everything at once. You’ll just get overwhelmed, which will steal your motivation leaving you feeling frustrated and disappointed that you didn’t move the needle further.
If you can’t do everything, you have to take some time to figure out which goals are the biggest priority for you NOW. Focus is key. Each day, we have a finite amount of time and energy. It’s essential to use these resources optimally, to make the biggest impact.
Or we risk getting stuck and feeling stagnated.
The 80/20 rule is a useful framework for prioritization because this mindset will help you to identify the goals with the highest leverage.
You’ll also need to figure out the order in which you’ll tackle your goals. When you look down your list, you’ll see that some of your desires lie further back along the line of dominos.
What dominos do you need to topple first to knock down the later goals?
Step 5. Think in 90-day chunks
One of the most powerful things you can do for your goals is to set yourself 90-day targets. Ninety days is the goal-setting sweet spot because it’s long enough to achieve something significant, but short enough to keep the deadline close enough to fend off procrastination.
One of the reasons we struggle to achieve one-year or five-year goals is because the deadline is so far in the future. Humans have a tendency to push off things for later! If you have a year to hit your target, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow.
Then before you know it, tomorrow becomes never - and the needle didn’t move!
In comparison, give yourself three months and there’s urgency.
It’s how 90-day goals can help you achieve more in a quarter than other people achieve in a year.
If you’re ready to set [and achieve] some 90 days goals, the Self Journal is the perfect accountability tool to help you. Inside, you’ll find goal-setting templates, weekly planning and reflection tools, as well as a powerful daily layout designed to help you win the day and leverage your time and energy.
Step 6. Take action!
The difference between a dream and reality is the action you take. Nothing changes until you put committed feet forward.
But don’t worry!
You don’t have to take massive uncomfortable leaps to move the needle on your life. Compounded baby steps combine to create an incredible impact.
The secret is to start.
The secret is to keep moving forward - no matter what - knowing that you do have what it takes to navigate life’s challenges and figure out the inevitable roadblocks that will show up along the way.
And remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Instead, find the people who will get in your corner and cheer for you. Accountability is a powerful motivator that will inspire you to go further and faster than you could ever go by yourself.
Most importantly, know that you’ve got this.
Look at everything you’ve accomplished to get to this exact point in time.
Just imagine where you could go next.