For the past eight years, I haven't made any New Year's resolutions. I don't believe in them. Instead, I have taken five hours during the year, usually in the summer or fall, to follow a 10-step goal-setting process.
And this year, I'm sharing more of the process with you. It's a bit personal and therefore a bit scary, mostly because it involves announcing my failings in public. But I have managed to achieve such consistently good results from this process that I thought, "Why not post it this year?"
First, none of this process was my idea. It's all derived from Your Best Year Yet, which is both a book and a seminar. Cheesy; I know, but it's been worth a little cheesiness to accomplish what I want each year. The process results in a printed summary I post on the bathroom mirror and see every day. The results have been consistent: every year I've done this, I've accomplished between eight and ten of the ten established goals.
You can't argue with success. Well, you can, but it's kind of silly.
So here we go. The summary of my 10-step goal-setting exercise for 2012.
What did you accomplish in 2011?
What I love about this process is that it begins with a list of your accomplishments. In my case, this year, I quickly had a list of 15 accomplishments--and those are OUTSIDE of the 10 goals I'd set and accomplished--including:
- took on new PM challenges at work
- came up with a new idea for a seminar and implemented it
- went to visit my mom in Texas on her birthday and made her really happy
- helped two friends through really tough divorces
- blogged more than I ever have before
- added elliptical to my workout regimen
What were your disappointments in 2011?
The next step is listing disappointments. This is an interesting and sometimes painful exercise. In the past, I've actually broken in to tears when listing these. Writing your failings down in black and white can be uncomfortable and downright painful. In 2011, however, I'm happy to say that the list of disappointments was short; just five compared to 15 proud accomplishments. They included:
- Didn't find a place to do a social media project and improve my skills
- Still don't feel like I'm pulling my weight at work
- Didn't dance as much as I'd like
What's great about listing disappointments is the next step: listing the lessons learned from those disappointments and the limiting factors that caused them (we all have them, and this is an excellent change to drag them out into the open).The lessons learned are turned into two or three personal guidelines for 2012.
For example, one of my lessons learned was:
When I prioritize relationships, they improve.
I turned that into the personal guideline:
Focus brings rewards.
Likewise, I took "My friends are awesome, and my detractors are idiots" and "When I gather up my courage and take risks, fantastic things happen" into:
Be brave and be awesome.
The next section can be a bit challenging. You look at how you have limited yourself and what you tell yourself to explain that. In my case, my explanation of my failures tends to be:
- I'm too tired
- I'm too old
- I don't have the energy
- I don't have the time
Ouch. My closest confidants are undoubtedly tired of hearing about how I'm too tired to live the life I want to live! Those are definitely limiting my own attitude towards my life, work and success. Happily, the next step is to take the strongest of those limiting beliefs (in my case, "I'm too tired") and turn it into a new paradigm, one that will support my goals. This is the kind of statement that if were 100% true, you believe it would make the biggest change in your life. Mine for 2012 is:
I have abundant energy to work, play and give back.
Yes. Now THAT is what I need to see every morning in the bathroom mirror!
What are your values and what roles do you play?
OK, so much for the turning painful lessons into empowering statements. Next comes a list of your personal values and the roles you play in life. My personal values:
- Contributing to the community
- Supporting myself financially
- Being a supporting and compassionate friend
- Being honest and kind
- Giving back
- Thanking people
- Lifelong learning
- Personal growth
And the roles I play in life:
- Chief Conversation Officer/Spoken marketing whiz
- Social media producer and speaker
- Romantic partner
- Heidi's cheerleader
- Organizer of the fun
- Good daughter
Choose a focus
Then and only then (usually about 2-4 hours in) do you start making decisions about focus for the next year. The next steps are to choose a focus, list three to five goals for each role you play (which results in about 20-30 goals), and then a narrowing down to 10 goals for the year.
I looked at the roles I play, and I chose the one role to focus on this year: Spoken marketing whiz. The reasoning for this is that, while I've excelled at work over the last few years, this year I really want to rock my position. I want to boldly own projects and and effectively and enthusiastically bring the team together. Last year I focused on "friend/confidant," and I ended up building AMAZING friendships with some stellar people here in Seattle. And a side benefit was that I found and built a relationship with a fantastic romantic partner as well! Two birds killed with one mighty stone.
Now, it's time for those friendships to support me as I throw my focus back on really making a difference as Chief Conversation Officer at Spoken. It's a title I'm proud to own, and this year, as the company continues to grow, I want to shine. Hell, I want to be leading the way!
Making and narrowing the goals
The next step is the fun one: writing down two to five goals for each role you play. Of course, they should all be specific, measurable and attainable. So I end up with this big, honkin' list of nearly 50 goals--crazy unwieldy. So next, it's time to hone down to a list of 10 goals you can see and make progress on every day. Here is the final result that will be taped to the bathroom mirror:
Major Focus: Chief Conversation Officer/marketing whiz
Focus brings rewards.
Be brave and be awesome.
Give thanks and give back.
New paradigm: I have abundant energy to work, play and give back.
- CCO marketing whiz: Build team interaction by having a meaningful spoken interaction with two people in the company each day.
- CCO marketing whiz: Write Big Weekly Goals on Mondays and What I Accomplished on Fridays, store in a Google doc and share with CEO once a week.
- Social media producer: Find a new project to lead or participate in. Give back.
- Advocate – Write up one opinion post a month.
- Friend/confidante—Set aside one lunch and one evening per week for one-on-one friend/relationship building.
- Romantic partner—Take a vacation with R.
- Romantic partner/support—Have lunch/coffee with L or S to catch up once a month.
- Heidi Cheerleader—Journal or publicly Tweet positive events and accomplishments. Take joy in them!
- Organizer of the fun—Find a dance buddy to go dancing with (swing, ballroom or salsa) 24 times.
- Good daughter—Visit Mom in Texas for her birthday.
This is what will be taped to my mirror and what will shape my good and bad days in 2012. It is a little tough to share my personal failings here in black and white, but it means that I also get to share all the excitement I have for what 2012 will bring. I'll admit that 2009 and 2010 were damn challenging for me; 2011 is where all the hard work started to pay off.
This year is gonna be awesome. Just you wait.