Well, another year is about to slip into the history books, which means that it’s a good time to reflect on the lessons learnt and plan out your next year. Are you ready for 2016?
"Fail to plan, plan to fail."
- Benjamin Franklin
Whilst planning may not be everyone’s favourite activity, the actual task of planning itself doesn’t have to be over engineered and documented, but can be simple, agile and ultimately a great support to help you get ready for a great 2016.
If planning isn’t your favourite activity, I invite you to consider the benefits you’ll achieve once you have a ‘roadmap’ in place for your next 12 months. A bit of time spent now planning can pay back big time, enabling you to be more productive, more confident, less stressed, more in control, more creative; have more free time, and have more financial success. A plan with plenty of margin in it, will give you the space to think more creatively as you go along; put the resources you need in place; and stop doing the things that are not serving you well.
To get you started, here are six tips to help you make planning a fun and energising activity that guides you through the next 12 months:
Healthy Tip #1
You’re at the end of a year, so it’s time to celebrate for a start, and reflect on what you achieved this year; what went well; what didn’t go so well; who helped you and made a positive difference to your life and where you struggled.
This isn’t the time to beat yourself up, but likewise it isn’t useful to brush failures under the carpet and pretend they didn’t happen. Though it’s hard to see it at the time, failure often contains some of life’s best lessons.
This is something that’s talked about a lot in the business world, inspired by methods outlined in books such as The Lean Startup book by Eric Reis who talks of ‘failing fast’. He’s referring to product development and innovation, but the principles are equally applicable to personal lifestyle change.
Healthy Tip #2
The tool to help you here are goals, setting goals that help you focus and prioritise. If you’ve never set a goal before, don’t worry, only 3% of the population set goals on a regular basis. However, what’s interesting is that there’s clear research linking people who set goals with success in all aspects of life, so it’s a good habit to get into.
When it comes to goal-setting, there are a number of frameworks to help. You’ve probably heard of the SMART acronym, guiding you to write goals that aren’t general, can’t be measured, are unrealistic and not time bound. So to be useful, make your goals inspiring, action-oriented and meaningful to you, so that you’re motivated to do the work needed to achieve them.
Healthy Tip #3
We are whole people which, in practical terms, means that our lives can be broken-up into a number of segments. An easy way to visualise this is by picturing your life as a wheel or a circle, often referred to as ‘The Circle or Wheel of Life’.
The wheel includes areas such as relationships, money, career, health, fun and so on. What happens in one segment affects the others. For instance, if you’re feeling off colour, your work will suffer, as you won’t be as productive as usual (known as presenteeism in the corporate world). Similarly, if you receive negative feedback from your boss, this is likely to impact your mood which could affect your personal relationships and so on.
From a wellbeing perspective, the ultimate goal is to achieve balance in all areas of our lives. However, whilst life may get out of balance at certain points, periods of intensity tend to be followed by periods of recovery which balance things out over a longer period, enabling you to rebuild your resources and recover.
Healthy Tip #4
Out of the 3% of people who set goals, only 1% of people actually write them down. According to Dr Gail Matthews, you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Write them in a note book, or if you need an added incentive, there are a number of useful software tools available designed to help hold you accountable. Tools like Stickk and PACT are two of the more popular ones. Also, to help you walk through the whole process, I’ve created a new workbook tool for you, and you can find out more at the end of this article.
Healthy Tip #5
Many people struggle to translate the big goals into practical action steps to execute against. If you relate to that, here’s a process that I use that really helps move things from ‘white board land’ into reality:
Healthy Tip #6
Take a big sheet of white paper and BRAINSTORM all of the things you would like to do next year - this isn’t the time to hold back. Go to that deeper place and allow yourself to dream for 20 minutes
Prioritise the list into a manageable chunks, grouping things into clusters aligned to different aspects of your life using the wheel of life framework outlined above. Put all of the dreams that don’t fit into your 2016 plan to the side for now, this will form an ‘ideas bank’ for the future.
- Create a 12 box grid on a sheet of paper. This is your 2016. Now write the big things you want to do and place them onto the grid in the month that they will happen. Include events, holidays, projects and all of the things that you would like to happen. Consider too at this point, the things that you’re going to stop doing to make room for new things. This is your ‘stop doing list’ which is very important. Now you have your first draft of your phased, 2016 plan which can now be broken down into monthly and weekly schedules.
Planning is great as it creates a vision and a guide for you. However, like all guides, a plan can’t support you unless you check-in regularly and follow-through. You need to be the ‘project manager’ of your life. Schedule quarterly reviews to go through your goals, progress to date and course correct if you need to.
Life happens and we need to be kind to ourselves and flexible and check whether the goal we set 3 months ago is still relevant and inspiring to us. If it isn’t, then refine as the road map is there to guide you. You are the driver of your life, which means that you decide which direction you want to travel.
You don’t need me to tell you that we are only in this world for a relatively short period. Time goes by very quickly and by setting goals and deciding on your priorities, you can focus on the things that are truly valuable to you, living your life by design, rather than by chance. As Jim Rohn, the famous philosopher once said:
"If you don't design your own life, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan."
- Jim Rohn
I wish you a very happy and healthy new year.
If you’re keen to start planning, but need some help, then I’ve created the perfect tool for you. Full of practical exercises, ‘'A Better Life" is my new workbook created to help you work through the steps above and clarify what you really want and how you can build a better life.
My goal was to create a tool to empower people to define their personal goals and dreams and then create actions to move towards them.
Specifically ‘A Better Life’ workbook will help you:
Get absolute clarity on what you want
Define clear action plans
Develop success habits to keep you going
Review & restart
Register before January 15th to receive your free PDF copy of "A Better Life"!