With the coming of spring in the southern hemisphere, it is a good time to review, refresh and refocus. Whether you do it in spring, at the beginning of the year, around your birthday or at some time when the need presents itself, taking stock, regrouping and gaining new focus is an important process in tapping into a good source of energy when one needs it.
Throughout life we experience successes, setbacks and failures. Sometimes we find ourselves just moseying along doing ok, making ends meet but not shooting the lights out. Sometimes we wake up to the fact that we’ve just been bored for a very long time and need to give our lives a vitamin B12 shot. These are all times when we need to make a new beginning.
Often when it becomes apparent that one needs to refresh and make a new beginning when one is a bit down in the dumps. I don’t mean depressed in any clinical sense. I just mean that one’s life feels a bit “meh”. At these times it is often difficult to identify exactly what one is dissatisfied with, so here’s a process which may help you. All credit goes to Jinny Ditzler, who’s book, “Your Best Year Yet” is the inspiration for this.
Set Aside Some "Me Time"
It’ll take you a couple of hours, so either set aside about 4 hours of “me time”, or break it into chunks of about an hour each over no more than a week – and trust the process. Why no more than a week? Because you will lose momentum and not give it the effort it deserves. Get yourself a journal, if you like writing on paper, or download the Word document below, and use that to keep your notes.
Question 1: What did you set out to achieve over the last 12 months?
Here you will write down everything you set out to do over the last year (you can make it 2 years if that makes more sense). These might be work goals, personal goals, study goals, travel goals, financial goals – anything that you wanted to do or achieve, even if you didn’t write it down anywhere or tell anyone.
Question 2: What did you actually do or achieve?
Write down all the things you did do or achieve; the things you partially achieved; the things you did or achieved instead of what you had set out to do. Also include things you did or achieved that have nothing to do with question 1. This might include setbacks you overcame, how you helped or supported someone else. It should be a generous list covering as much space as possible. If you get to 10 items, try and think of another 10. Try to fill at least one A4 page. It is important to give this real effort – it is too easy to lose sight of things you did despite the odds; how you made someone else’s life easier; how you settled a debt. If you find yourself getting stuck, take a break and go and ask some people who witness your life or your work. Let them remind you of all that you have done.
Question 3: What were your disappointments?
What did you not do or achieve that you had set out to do? What did you not even get to? What did you give up on? What old patterns did you repeat? What happened to you through no fault of your own – life’s blows and setbacks? Just write them down. Don’t judge them – put them down and get them out.
Question 4: What did you learn?
Look back over your answers to the previous 2 questions and identify the possible lessons. What did you learn about what works? What did you learn about what doesn’t work? What did you learn about yourself? What should you have done differently if you had known then what you know now? What advice do you wish someone would have given you?
Question 5: In what areas of your life are you not succeeding? What are your reasons/excuses?
This is a tough question because it asks you to look in the mirror and confront the brutal truth. We all have 101 really good reasons why we are not achieving what we would like to achieve – but many of them are the excuses we use to let ourselves off the hook. What excuses do you make? How it none/some of this not your fault? What does this reveal about your beliefs? Which of these beliefs are limiting?
Question 6: What do you want to achieve or do in the coming 12 to 24 months?
Break your life up into some critical components/roles/goal areas. These areas could include (but are not limited to): parent; child; friend; traveller; money manager; leader; learner; follower; faith; physical fitness; health; weight; leisure; hobbies. Limit yourself to about 8 areas or you will become too scattered. For each of those areas define some specific things that you would like to do or achieve in the coming 12 to 24 months. Make sure these goals are SMART: specific; measurable; achievable; relevant (to your life and values) and time bound. When you describe each goal to someone else, they must be able to clearly visualise the achievement thereof. List your goals in priority order so that your TOP 10 goals are clearly set out. Nobody can achieve a shopping list of goals, so if you focus on your top 10, you have a good chance of being at least partially successful.
Question 7: What do you need to believe about yourself and what is possible in order to achieve your new goals?
Go back and review your answers to question 5. The excuses you have made for yourself in the past say something about the beliefs that hold you back. What do you need to believe about yourself, about life and about what is possible if you are to have a hope of achieving all your goals? Write your new beliefs down – if necessary put them on the mirror where you get ready every morning.
Question 8: What one or two things can you do in the coming month to move each goal forward?
Don’t overengineer things. We want progress rather than perfection – so for each goal set down 1 or 2 things you can do in the coming month. Set time aside for them in your calendar to actually get them done.
Finally, implement some simple disciplines.
Your best friend in getting things done is your calendar. If you are using Microsoft Office (which most of us are) your Outlook calendar is your one stop shop. Use it to block out chunks of time for:
- Getting things done (make it an appointment with yourself);
- Planning (take 30 minutes once a month to look at your goals and plan the 1 or 2 things you will do in the coming month to move things forward;
- Setting follow-up dates for tasks that have dependency on others;
- Delegating tasks to others with reminders for follow up.
It's Never Too Late
I love this quotation from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”
If you are starting over, rebooting or reinventing, I hope this process is helpful.
If you have any struggles as you go through this process, please drop me an email or a WhatsApp message (+27 82 5519504) and I’ll give you some guidance.
If you recognise that you need to start over, reboot or reinvent yourself, email me on email@example.com and let’s discuss your coaching programme.