This episode is being published just a couple of days before Christmas, during the time of year when I typically spend some time reflecting on the past year and setting intentions for the coming new year. I thought it was a good time to talk about a process for doing that.
Getting from where you are to where you want to be
When I think back over this year, there are four elements I am using to think about what I want to accomplish in the next year.
1. Remember – remind yourself of what has happened this year in your life
- Make a list of the highlights of this year
- What are the best things that happened (even though it’s been a tough year)
- Make a list of your accomplishments, big or small
- Think about lessons you learned (we talked about that last week in episode 325)
2. Dream – where do you want to be this time next year? What would you like to be able to list as highlights and accomplishments? Envision what you want. Picture yourself this time next year, looking back…
- How do you feel?
- Who are you with?
- What are you celebrating?
- What memories are you savoring?
Dream in all areas of your life (business/professional, health (physical and mental), and relationships). Remember we can’t predict the best things–they often surprise us. Remember to always leave room for the unexpected joys. But this is an exercise in letting your imagination go, so don’t limit yourself!
3. Evaluate -what you’ve been doing and what you want to do.
- What do you want to keep doing?
- Me: work out regularly; getting on the treadmill almost every day
- What do you want to start doing?
- Me: reach out regularly to old friends and new, sending cards or scheduling calls.
- What do you want to stop doing?
- Me: limiting myself by my own doubts
4. Plan – with the picture in your mind of where you want to be next year, think about this question: “How do I get from here to there? What needs to change, and what do I need to do to change it?”
- Focus on your actions, such as the things you can do. You might not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change your actions, your mindset, and your thoughts.
- Remember that our habits matter most–what we do regularly makes a much bigger difference than what we do occasionally. Choose one new habit to focus for the first quarter of the new year, one that’ll make a big difference.
- When will you do it? (How often? What days? Time of day”)
- What current habit will you tie it to?
- Choose the most important thing you want to do by this time next year, then reverse engineer and break it down.
- If I want to be settled in a new job by this time next year, when do I want to start that job? When do I have to start the job search? What resources do I need?
- If I want to have written a book, what day to I want to finish it? When do I need to start? How many words or pages a day would I need to write?
- If I want to be at my ideal weight, when do I need to start, how much do I need to lose (or gain) each month, and what do I need to do to make that happen?
- If I want to spend next year’s holidays in a ski resort or on the beach, when do I need to book the reservations? How much money do I need to save each month/week?
- Identify the obstacles (Time? Money? Other people? Fear? Lack of confidence?) and brainstorm actions you can take to overcome them when they arrive.
Plans for The Productive Woman
One area where I’ve been applying this process is in The Productive Woman. I’ve been thinking about what’s been best about this year and previous years and dreaming about what else I can do to build community with you and serve the TPW community better.
A couple of things I’m thinking about:
- Launching a new series in 2021. I’m calling it the “Productive Living” series. It’ll be a recurring series like our Productive Reading series and will feature special guests, women with expertise in specific areas that are important to us as who want to be productive and make lives that matter–like professional development, health and wellness, money, relationships, parenting, and creativity. I’ll be talking to nutritionists, financial experts, fitness professionals, creatives, and more. I’m looking forward to sharing those conversations with you in the coming year. If there are any topics you’d especially like me to cover, please let me know.
- Mastermind groups. I’ve found them so effective in helping the women who participate identify and achieve goals that matter to them, and also with building community. I hope to do more of them this year.
- In-person planning retreat. I’ve mentioned this before and I’m still hoping to do this! This will be a small group of women–no more than 4 plus me, who will meet here at my home for a long weekend of teaching, coaching, planning, and relaxing. I wanted to do it before the year ended, but with COVID restrictions the timing just didn’t seem right, but I do plan to do at least one in 2021.
Now and later
This year has been difficult for a lot of us. It’s tempting to write off this year and tell ourselves that next year will be better. But it’s not our circumstances that determine whether a year is good or bad, productive or not. It’s our own choices about how to think about the circumstances and what to do in and with them. Next year will only be good if we choose and take action to make it so.
The other thing that’s important to remember is this: Looking to the future doesn’t have to replace or interfere with being in the moment. We still can savor today even while dreaming and planning for tomorrow.
As you think about the future, remember:
“Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it’s about doing, being and becoming.” ~ Mike Dooley
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Where do you want to be this time next year, and what’s the first step you’ll take to get there? Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments section below this post or on The Productive Woman’s Facebook page, or send me an email.
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Join me in The Productive Woman Mastermind
If you’ve thought about joining a TPW mastermind group to kick off the new year, come join me and a small group of like-minded women for encouragement, accountability, and support as you define and pursue your most important goals in the coming year. I’ll be assembling the group–no more than 2 groups this time–soon, so don’t wait. Visit TheProductiveWoman.com/mastermind to learn more, listen to short audio testimonials from women who’ve participated in the past, and complete the short online application.Click here to discover my favorite apps!
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Royse City, Texas