As we near the end of the first month of 2017, have you thought hard about and planned for your year ahead? Have you brought an element of deliberateness and intention to what you would like to achieve? Or have you found yourself back into a similar routine that may not be that much different from years past?
Here are 8 steps to having a highly focused year full of fun and achievement.
1. Create a future
The best way to have the future you want is to create it. Over the next 12 months, what do you want to accomplish? If it was now January 2018 and you were reflecting on the year that has just passed what would you like to say were the major highlights of your year?
One of the best ways to do this is to schedule your yearly planning session. Allocate 30 to 60 minutes, with no distractions, in which you can take an up close and personal look at what you want your life to look like one year from today.
2. Plan it backwards
Once you have declared what you want, now it is time to plan how to get it. The familiar phrase of ‘plan your work, then work your plan” comes to mind. To plot a true course to your destination, work backwards from that endpoint goal to where you are in relationship to that destination today.
Then set up monthly milestones that will let you know if you are on track to achieve it or if a course correction or adjustment to your plan is needed to keep you on pace for your goal. These monthly milestones will eliminate losing valuable time by waiting too long to notice that an adjustment to your plan may be required.
3. Have a personal development plan
High achievers are people of personal growth and development. What are the areas of growth that you want for yourself this year? Are there courses or workshops you want to attend this year? Books to read on subjects you’d like to increase your knowledge of? Is it time for a new mentor or a new coach for 2017?
4. Goals for roles
Creating your 2017 includes all areas of your life. Make sure to include goals for the different ‘roles’ you play in your life. What are your business and professional goals, your goals as someone’s partner, your goals as a parent, your goals as part of a volunteer organisation, etc.
This will help to ensure that you spend your time, effort, and resources on all the areas of your life that are important to you. If you just set goals in one or two areas, it is highly likely that the other areas of life will fall behind in the time and intention you put on them.
5. Model success
An old mentor of mine, Walter Hailey in his 'Power of Persuasion' boot camps used to say sometimes it’s ‘better to copy genius than create mediocrity.’ If there is something that you want to excel at, find someone who already excels and copy what they do. Too often we confuse personality with work habits.
We think someone is successful because of their personality, much more likely it is a reflection of the habits they have developed. If you think of yourself as a procrastinator shift the context to you are following the habits of a procrastinator then find someone who takes quick and decisive action. Observe their habits, start to copy their habits and you will no longer be a procrastinator.
6. Practice mindfulness
Develop your level of self awareness. The most powerful computer on the planet is the one between your ears. The issue we face is that it did not come with a user’s manual.
The ability to observe your thoughts and not to react to them automatically is one of the most powerful skills to develop toward a highly successful 2017. This will give you the ability to consciously choose how to act no matter the situation you find yourself.
7. Be specific with your time
You’ve been allocated 365 days in 2017; how you use them is up to you. Based on what you have determined you want to achieve, develop your schedule around allocating specific amounts of time to the tasks you much do each day, week or month to keep you on track for your yearly objective. Making task lists is not enough. Allocate the actual start and finish times to what you will be doing.
8. Know your WIIFM
What’s your ‘why’ for doing what you want to do? Define and get in touch with it enough so that there is an emotional pull that truly inspires you to act. You will have days where the little voice in your head doesn’t want to do what you know you should be doing. This is where you WIIFM (what’s in it for me) comes in. It must be more important to you than that little voice in your head that is preventing you from moving ahead with your plans.
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with over 35,000 people to create high performance organisations, teams and individuals.
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