As we prepare to face another year, we may have mulled over some resolutions to improve our lives in 2013. But many of us don’t go beyond looking at our diet, or our nasty nail-biting habit, or the fact that our finances aren’t too healthy because we buy three pairs of the same designer shoes.
Yet the end of the year and the start of a new one is the perfect time to take stock of our lives and look at what is working, and what isn’t. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year and pat ourselves on the back for what we achieved. It could be anything; a promotion at work, running a 10km race, having a baby, or selling some artwork, for example.
We can also learn from the things that didn’t go well. If being the manager of a busy store meant you didn’t see your children until the weekends, maybe now is the time to rethink your role. If you spent your evenings and weekends doing household chores, yet you long to write a book, now is the time to plan some change and hire a housekeeper, or organise a family rota.
Analysing our lives takes some time, and often the hardest part is deciding how
we want to live. In her book, Your Best Year Yet, author Jinny Ditzler has devised ten questions that put the past year in perspective and get us on track for the year ahead, whether we’re the managing director of a global company, or a stay-at-home mum-of-two who likes pottery and embroidery.
Answering all ten questions properly takes about three hours, and the result is a plan for the year ahead on one A4 sheet of paper.
“In our ordinary everyday lives, we are so busy getting things done,” says American author Jinny. “We lose sight of our dreams, the things that matter and the kind of person we want to be.
“When you have worked through the questions, you have a one-page document that will grab your attention in the middle of all the busyness. I call myself The Queen of Simple!”
1 What have I accomplished?
Start by looking back over the year and list all the things you achieved, whether it was decorating your home, taking a part-time job in a school, paying off some debt, getting fit, or even doing more of what you enjoy, such as going to concerts or the theatre.“We are very good at beating ourselves up and looking at where we went wrong,” explains Jinny, “but we don’t praise ourselves when things go well. Recognising our achievements makes us think well of ourselves and stops us from thinking we’re a total failure.”
2 What were my biggest disappointments?
Now you’ve seen that you are an achiever, looking at what didn’t work is easier. Make a list of what didn’t go well for you and what caused you heartache. It may have been a year of grief over the loss of a loved one, or months of worry about an illness. Maybe your home became very cluttered, you gained weight, your children got into trouble or that holiday to Europe never happened.
“We often find that there aren’t actually that many disappointments,” says Jinny.
“Even if there are a few, when you’ve written them down, you can stop beating yourself up.
3 What did I learn?
This is often a light-bulb question. Look back at your achievements. Ask yourself, why did they work? What did you do to make them happen? And what obstacles did you overcome to make them happen?
Next, look at your disappointments and failures and see what would have worked better and what lessons your mistakes have taught you. What changes do you need to make in the way you operate?
If you’re a salesperson, maybe your lesson is to be more proactive, or if you’re a working mum, maybe you need to ensure you get a ten-minute break and some peace and quiet at some point every day.
4 How do I limit myself?
We all have some beliefs that limit us. Some people think that they’re not good enough, while others don’t follow through on what they say they will do. Some think they’re too unattractive to meet a new partner, while others may think they’re too clumsy to be artistic.
Once you’ve written out your limiting beliefs, turn them into positives. “I am fat,
ugly and hopeless” will become “I am lean, strong and healthy”. “I can’t do what I want” becomes “I empower myself to have what I want.” These paradigms will be the way you see the world for the next year.
5 What are my values?
We all have drivers – these are our natural motivations and our reasons for getting up in the morning. They’re the things we love doing and may be related to music, art, exercise, or people we love being with.
Common values are a sense of accomplishment, loving your family, compassion for others and keeping promises. Once you’re clear about your values and drivers, you’ll make better decisions about your goals and drop the things you think you should do for those you want to do.
6 What roles do I play?
Jinny says that outlining the roles you play – anything from mother and friend to
pet owner and artist – will give you a sense of control of your life.
Once you have ascertained that you’re a manager, an adventurer, a friend and a daughter, for example, you will be able to choose goals for those roles to ensure
you have balance in your life for the year ahead.
7 Which role is my major focus?
Choose a role that will make the most difference to your year to focus on. If your finances are a problem, you may want to concentrate on being a businessperson
in 2013. If writing a book would fulfil your need for creativity and recognition, then
focus on being a writer.
8 What are my goals for each role?
Take each role and devise some goals, using active verbs such as arrange, organise, practise, invest and complete. A parent may have a goal of spending a weekend away with the children twice a year, or a runner may decide to take part in the Dubai Marathon. A would-be artist may sign up for painting classes and a writer may aim to write a book by the end of the year.
9 What are my top ten goals?
Go through all the goals for each role and choose the ten that will make the most difference to your 2013. Bear in mind the lessons you learnt from the previous year
and your values when you choose.
If one of your values is ‘making a difference’, one of your top ten goals could be to raise a certain amount for a named charity. If one of your disappointments was that you didn’t spend time in the evenings with your children, you could have a goal of putting them to bed four nights a week.
On an A4 sheet, write out your three main guidelines for the year ahead (from lessons learnt), your new paradigm (your re-worked limiting belief), your major focus and your top ten goals.
10 How can I make sure I achieve my goals?
Display your sheet somewhere you will see it every day, and set up systems to help you achieve your goals.
Book courses, order books and get training programmes underway – organise your schedule so you’ve time to work on your goals.
Find a buddy to report back to, and at the end of each month, sit down with your goals and see what you could do next to get your nearer to achieving them.
If you want to prepare for a trip to India, a one-month goal can be to set up a savings plan. If you want to reduce your body fat to 20 per cent, you might join a gym. Get the wheels in motion for your best year yet!