The beginning of the year is an awesome time to evaluate where you are and where you are headed. I’m a big fan of habits and constant iteration. I also believe in goals. Have you ever written yourself a letter or imagined your life in five or ten years and then found most if not all of it came true?
For this new year exercise, I started thinking about 2017 and what I’d hoped to accomplish. To inform the brainstorming, I began with evaluating 2016. As an entrepreneur and consultant, it’s critical to provide structure around goals and metrics, as you may not have those without a traditional employer.
And even if you do, are you as diligent with your personal pursuits as your professional?
Our experience is a direct outcome of the effort that we put into the planning. Today, I’d encourage you to take a look at 2016 and think about 2017. To frame the conversation, I began with this questionnaire.
From there I moved onto a systematic review. I analyzed my projects, meetings, engagements, my industry focus, new tools, methodologies and skills that I worked on, gained knowledge of, or even tried. I noted all of the new activities I explored and the people I met. I applied a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis to the year. Through this review, I realized a few things:
1. Success requires goals
To determine success you need metrics to gauge progress. Last year, I missed the opportunity to create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time based) Goals and hold myself accountable. If you are looking for an approach, I really like Tim Ferris’ – six month goals and two week experiments. This structure allows you to take a leap without a significant investment, while remaining on a general course.
One of my key takeaways from 2016 was the need for a better contact management system. I had meaningful interaction with one new person every three days. The systems I have in place to keep up with my contacts does not give me the breadth, or depth of tracking and follow up that I need. During 2017, I'm trying new systems and approaches in two week increments with the general goal of a solution this year.
2. Growth needs iteration
Life is your personal experiment. You control your actions, decisions and destiny. When we set goals for ourselves we provide a measure by which to determine our progress on the personal or professional growth that we desire.
Let’s take a generic goal of exercise, specifically weight training. We’ll start with looking at what you want to accomplish and how you plan on changing your day to accommodate this new activity. Plan how the new habit will impact your life and utilize Smart Goals:
Specific- I will weight train for XX minutes XX days a week.
Measurable – Have I trained four days this week? Have I put in two hours of weight lifting?
Achievable – How does this habit alter my life? Is it reasonable for me to set aside an hour four days a week to work on myself?
Realistic – Can I sustain this investment? Can I afford not to? What do I gain from weight training four days a week?
Timely – When will I accomplish this? How will I adjust my schedule to achieve my goals?
Iteration allows you to review your goals and make changes. Perhaps four days a week is too much to ask, but an hour or minute goal helps you to achieve your overall outcome, which is to get healthy or be physically fit. You may find that doing it alone is not as rewarding as having a workout buddy or being in a class setting.
3. Life is Awesome
When I looked at 2016, I hadn’t realized how many new activities I participated in. It was the first year I spoke on a panel, the first year I spoke at a political protest, the first year that I took Trapeze class and the first time I tried Cryotherapy, among other random adventures. I learned new skills, new software, new tools and new technology. It was an awesome year. Could it have been better? Maybe, if I had planned to accomplish more.
Life is less about the things, and more about the experiences you have. How awesome is your life right now? How much more awesome could you make it, if you put effort into planning? I encourage you to take time each week, outside of technology, to brainstorm or to just be. Let your mind wander where it will. Focus on gratitude and being thankful. The more you see everything in your life that is wonderful, the more you realize how awesome your life is.
Give yourself room to imagine your most awesome life and then get out of your way!
4. Risk is worth It
I can’t tell you how many people rely on blame and excuses when referring to running late, missing a meeting, not having time. We are all responsible for our own life, commitments and time. We must take control of our schedule and prioritize. When we leave work late, we have prioritized whatever it is that we were doing. When we miss a meeting or don’t have time – we have prioritized other aspects of our life. Stop thinking in terms of "should" and start thinking in terms of "want", "need", "desire."
What do you want to do today? How can you prioritize better to accomplish what you want? Very often the risk to try something is not nearly as significant as we initially imagined.
Originally published on CSuiteDesign.com Starting with suits, C Suite Design provides women the tools and resources to reach the executive suite. Sign up to learn more and never miss a post!