Lots of people seem to be looking forward to seeing the back of 2016. Putting world events aside, before closing the door on this year, it’s a good idea to consider what 2016 meant to you and explore some goals for 2017.
I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions because there’s a lot of disappointment and self-berating associated with them if we don't achieve all that we set out to, but I do believe in setting goals and intentions, at all times of year, in all areas of life. And a great time to do this is the holiday season, when you (hopefully) have some time off. So make a cup of something hot, snuggle up somewhere quiet and take pen to paper to reflect back on 2016 and look to what the future might hold, starting with these questions:
Where did you succeed in 2016?
Cast your mind back to the end of 2015 and now consider any areas of your life where you’ve made progress since then. Celebrate this success by writing down each triumph, no matter how trivial. By noting them down, you’ll likely see you’ve achieved more than you expected.
For me, success meant building a stronger support team. I now feel more confident in running my business than I did a year ago. I’ve also loosened the reigns on the idea of perfection, which has freed me up to do the best job I can, without putting unrealistic pressures on myself.
And where did you "fail"?
Reflect on the occasions when things just didn’t turn out how you hoped in all areas of your life. Perhaps you tried to organise an event and it didn’t go as expected, or set a target you couldn’t meet, or messed up an important meeting. Rather than feeling ashamed or demotivated by these failures, recognise them by acknowledging what they’ve taught you and how you will now do things differently. My personal failings included missing an appointment with an important stakeholder. This taught me to keep tighter control of my diary and double check all my meetings!
After giving 2016 some reflection and attention, you may wish to look to the future and consider these questions:
What do you want to do or achieve this year?
This is a big question but if you think about the answers and write down any goals or ambitions you have for the next twelve months, this will focus your attention and start you on the path to achieving them. Of course, this doesn’t just have to relate to your career. For instance, I’ve set myself a goal to learn three fail-safe signature dishes within the next twelve months. I’m looking forward to mastering them and inviting family and friends over to sample them.
So have a little fun with your goals and make sure they cover all areas of your life (friends, family, career, health, etc.)
Keep a journal where you track your progress towards your goals and recognise your successes and learnings. At the start of each week or day, note down where you will have the opportunity to stretch yourself and move closer to your ambitions. And if no opportunities come to mind, proactively build at least one or two small steps into your week.
What will you be doing in three years’ time?
Try visualising your ideal future three years from now. Let your imagination run wild by conjuring up the most exciting and fulfilling developments that could take place by 2020. Go into great detail, looking at where you’ll be, who you will spend time with and what fun adventures you will be having, as well as what career ambitions you will have achieved.
The three-year time period gives more breathing space for any big ideas that might seem overwhelming in the short term. For instance, my envisioned future involves having set up a school in Africa and visiting the students and teachers, whose lives it has benefited. I know this won’t happen overnight but three years off, who knows…?
How will you enjoy yourself in 2017?
When life gets busy it is all too easy to fall into the trap of just doing what you “should” do and prioritising work or financial commitments. But this ultimately will leave you de-energized and frustrated.
To prevent this, I find it helps to block time out with friends and family right at the start of the year so I know I’ll be seeing them throughout the year. By the end of January, I expect my diary to be scattered with weekend meet-ups and holiday dates with loved ones. By the end of 2017 I can reflect back on all these fun times, no matter how busy I’ve been in between.