Sunday, December 27, 2015

Year-End Stock Taking + New Year Planning

Do you pause over the holidays to reflect on last year and set priorities for next year? Taking a day to hole up with a blanket, journal, posterboard, or whatever tools work can be a great way to shape your year and beyond. Go into 2016 with intention- how will you spend time, make decisions and track progress?

I brainstorm goals for the coming year, both high level, such as “reduce stress,” and tactical, like “do abc by end of first quarter.” First I just list them out as I think, then I organize them. I choose no more than top ten as main goals- anything more is too much to hold yourself to in a serious way. Goals #10-20 are “backburners-“ things like learn more of a certain language- good things to incorporate where I can but not huge life priorities, such as “keep my daughter thriving” or gamechangers, like “increase earning power.”

I evaluate last year, brutally yet with fair credit where it is due, and think about the impacts of how I did going forward. Were they the right goals? Which ones stay/go? Which ones need new strategies to accomplish? Here’s how I judge them. Along a right hand column each goal gets a percentage met. I total up how many are over 50%, right in mid-zone, and aren’t met (near zero percent). I draw a pie chart with a rough visual of how I did. This year, 11 were met well, 3 at mid-point, 2 not met. That is about 70% met, 30% somewhat met and 20% not met. Not bad. I look at which ones are in each bucket. Two of the three at mid-point were very important, so they go to top of list next year and get a hard look at how I can do better. I feel good about the ones I met, and reflect on how to keep doing the things that resulted in those successes.

I also sketch out reflections on disappointments, challenges, things I’m thankful for, proud of, excited about. Seeing these helps bring together the whole of what life’s been about- where energy is good or bad- where struggles are persistent- what must shift. I note boundary constraints, too- those things I can’t change or control- so need to work within them. Having this all written down to look back at later helps evaluate what seemed big over time, what ideas keep bubbling up, which paths aren’t taking shape, what I have learned about each option. I look back at the past few years’ similar lists to shape my current thinking- both reflective and forward-looking. I have to be in the right space to do this personal stock-taking… usually alone, at home, in bad weather, off the computer/phone to enable focused time. But it’s been incredibly helpful over the years, well worth the time invested.

Good luck in your 2015 review and 2016 visioning! Any tips or thoughts to share?

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