Celebrate and Create – Make 2013 Your Best Year Yet

Posted on December 17th, 2012 | No Comments


Yay! the Christmas holidays are almost upon us. I imagine like most busy professionals you are craving some downtime to relax and switch off from the hectic world that is your career/business – well enjoy….you deserve it.

So what have you planned? Christmas at home with the family; a holiday in an exotic climate, or perhaps rugged up in the Northern Hemisphere; maybe you’ll join other expats for an orphans celebration. Whatever you’re doing I’m sure it will be fun, sharing in the festive spirit with loved ones and making the most of the break.

Whilst doing so, I encourage you to take some time out to reflect on the year that was, celebrate your achievements (big and small) and start to plan for what you want to get out of 2013.

You could leave this until the new year however there’s a high probability that once back at work, the treadmill of corporate life will take over again and you’ll be part way through 2013 before you know it.

So to help you with this process, I’ve outlined below a simple exercise you can follow to guide you.

End of Year / New Year Reflection and Planning

Before you start, remember these rules:

– Don’t put limits on yourself.
– Your dreams are waiting to be realized.
– Decisions are too important to leave to chance.  Life is, too.
– Reach for your peak, your goal, your prize.
– K.I.S.S. – “Keep it Super Simple”.

The Questions (you may wish to journal your responses)

  1. As you reflect on this past year, what were your accomplishments, successes, breakthroughs, and/or achievements?  Please don’t skimp on these.  Make the list as long as necessary.  The little things count.  NO modesty allowed.  It’s important to acknowledge and validate ALL your accomplishments.  Look through your organizer, your journal (if you keep one), letters, emails to friends/family, your performance review, whatever might help to remind you.
  1. Looking back over the year, what were your disappointments or the things you had hoped to accomplish but didn’t get to?  Please make a list.  It’s important to acknowledge these issues as well, as this is an ideal time to either let them go, carry them forward to continue addressing them (perhaps in new ways or with renewed vigor), or make a new promise.  Also note what (if anything) blocked or held you back from your goals/objectives, or contributed to your disappointments.
  2. What have you learned about yourself and your life?  What insights have you gained?  Insights can shift us to a new, more alive place, helping us be more intentional and authentic in living our lives.  What insights have you gained?
  1. What are you grateful for?  This list might include some of the above and anything else you truly appreciate about yourself and your life.  A sage once said there is a basic principle in life:  whatever you appreciate and give thanks for will increase in your life. 
  1. How about a celebration in honor of your accomplishments this year?  What would be a fun, special thing to do for yourself? Lock it in and take the time to celebrate and acknowledge what you’ve done.
  1. What is your theme or vision for the New Year?  This is not about resolutions or specific goals with “do by” dates.  This is your vision or dream for the upcoming year.  What do you feel energy and excitement for?  What engages your imagination and feels compelling?  What do you really want out of life this year?
  1. As you look ahead to the new year, what are your three or four most significant goals?  You can have more if you wish.  Some people like to think in terms of setting goals in the following seven major areas of life:
  • Career and professional development (workshops, classes, books to read and expand your thinking?  Are you thinking of a promotion or new position?  Perhaps a new career?  Or even starting your own business?  Maybe even retiring?  What legacy do you want to leave?)
  • Finances (what are your financial goals, like a certain amount of additional savings by the end of the year, learning new ways of investing, and other short-term and long-term financial goals?)
  • Spouse, significant other or soul mate (what relationship is most important to you?  How can you keep the love and romance alive in your life? What can you do to meet your ideal partner this year?)
  • Personal and spiritual development (how do you engage in renewal?  What are your hobbies or special interests beyond work that keep you alive and interesting?)
  • Health and wellness (what are your plans for fitness, the right eating plan, your “Ten Daily Habits,”  for feeling strong, healthy, and “good in your skin”?)
  • Fun and recreation (what fabulous adventures would you like to go on this year?  What fun, memorable and mind-expanding trips?  What else can you do to enjoy life, re-new and “re-create”?)
  • Family and friends (they say “life is a journey” – who do you want along with you?  Interestingly, we get to choose to a greater extent than we may realize.  Who do you most want to spend time with?  How can you nurture the most important relationships?  And there are probably individuals whose paths you’ve crossed whom you’d like to get to know better or get closer to.  Identify them, and make a plan . . .  )
  1. What are the top two or three things about your job or career that you most want to be different in 2013?  What, specifically, will you do to make the change?  What will “better” look like?  What resources do you need?  Who can help you get there?
  1. What two or three changes do you most want to see in your personal life?  What will you do first to bring about these changes?  And then?  And then?  How will you know when you’ve achieved it?  How will your life be better or more fulfilled?  Envision it.
  1. What are you tolerating?   Make a list – even little things like a broken windshield or a missing jacket button sap a little energy each time you notice them, and cumulatively, they add up to feelings of frustration, diminishing (to some extent) our enjoyment of life.  Make a list of what you are tolerating (some people have 40-50 things on their lists – an annoying spot on the carpet, a disorganized closet or car, a cluttered office or desk), and systematically, one-by-one, start whittling your tolerations list.  You’ll be amazed how good you feel, and how much more energy you’ll have, when your tolerations list is whittled down to zero.
  1. What do you need to tell yourself every day?  We all have a gremlin or two – those little voices in our heads that tell us we can’t do it, or we’re not good enough.  We ARE good enough.  What mantra or self-affirming statements can you instill in your daily internal dialogue to replace the negative?
  1. What actions will you take to reach your goals and objectives in 2013?  What problems do you need to resolve?  What do you need to let go of?  And what actions will you take?  Test your plans by running them through the DREAM cycle:
    • – Discipline!  Do you have it?  To sustain and live the life you want, you need it.
    • R – Realism!  It is essential for success.  Are your goals realistic?
    • E – Essence!  Are your goals about what you really want?  Or are they what you think you should want (or what someone else wants)?
    • A – Action!  Will you commit to taking action every day?
    • M – Motivation!  Is what you want aligned with what you value?

This exercise is designed to help you design and create your own life experience, take charge, gain clarity about what’s important and what you want, and get into action.  Remember, life rewards action.  Do some careful reflection and thinking, make sound decisions and then go for it.  Someone once said, “an ounce of action is worth more than a ton of thinking.”  Name it, then claim it.

Enjoy the holidays and the time out. And here’s to creating an amazing 2013. If you need any support in making it happen, please feel free to contact me.

 I’d like to thank Laura Belsten from the Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence for giving me permission to share this planning tool.


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