As we've flipped to the last page of our calendars (wait, who still uses a monthly paper desk calendar anymore...aren't we all keeping digital calendars which automatically "flip"...anyway, just go with me here) we begin reviewing the current year and to take score. Some of the metrics are obvious:
* Am I in more debt or less debt this year
* Am I fatter than I was last year
* Did I fly enough miles to keep my status
* How many things did I cross of my yearly to-do list
* What resolutions lasted past January 10
Each year I complete a program called Best Year Yet. It is a simple 150 page guide book of self reflection and planning. This is the third year I am doing it. The first year was with the help of an executive coach and it was great. This year (2010) was less focused, but was still positive. The process starts by reviewing your accomplishments for 2010. These don't have to be grand, they can be a simple as being proud that you only gained 5 pounds instead of 10 like the prior year, or extreme like you wiped out all of your debt and didn't feel handcuffed by the restricted spending. The point is to list things YOU are proud of or you consider an accomplishment.
There are 10 questions you answer, some are simple lists and others are a little more intense. The author contends the program and plan can be completed in 3 hours...maybe I am too contemplative or just slow, but it takes me more than 3 hours.
I flew to LA this weekend in an effort to keep my status on United (see sample list above). I used this relative down time and plugged through 5 of the questions. I won't go into specifics here, but am willing to share every detail if someone out there wants to do the program. My accomplishments were easier to find this year than in the past (maybe it is just practice with the program...I think we often are silent to ourselves on our accomplishments but wear our disappointments as a big feathered hat all the time--this ain't Mardi Gras people).
My disappointments were a lot like they were last year...which tells me I am not focusing on them as much as I should.
I intend to finish the plan this week, which will include a 2011 Paradigm Shift (I know, I know... it basically reminds you that the negative thinking you've been doing needs to stop...not all negative thinking but one specific thought process or hindrance), a focus on improvement (traditionally I call mine "My CEO", basically trying to control/live my life how I want to...so balancing work, social, charitable and familial obligations with what has been called "Tim Time" since college (time just to be alone and do what you want with no other obligations), and a list of Top 10 goals for the year.
A few years ago a couple of my Top 10 goals were "Help Dad have an easy and rewarding end of life process", "Find a new charity to replace Children's Place", "Plan a foreign vacation and study the language". These goals all had varying degrees of success. You then put together milestones throughout the year to make sure you are working on them all year and not just doing a mad dash in December, and under the milestones you list tasks. For example if your goal was to pay off a credit card by June, one task could be to cut up the card so you couldn't get more in debt. This isn't really Best Year Yet, but it helps me stay on track.
I require every member of my team to do work goals like this, including milestones and tasks. We meet monthly to review progress. This isn't a time to say "Dammit Joe, you didn't work on any goal this month", it is to help the team stay focused on their goals and for me to pull in additional resorces they need to be successful.
A quote I lke from this book is "If we don't change our direction, we might end up where we are going". It makes perfect sense...if you don't like where you are in life now, do something to change it or you'll be in the same state forever. If you are on a road trip but never look at the signs around you, you won't end up where you truly want to be.