I mentioned previously that I had envisioned a framework for 2011 based on a book recommendation from one of my most goal-oriented and motivated friends, Marc. The book is Your Best Year Yet, published in 1994, yet ever prevalent in today’s world. The premise is simple: Keep your goals simple, focused and close at hand.
During my time in Corporate America, specifically at IBM, a routine part of my career was goal-setting, execution, and review. Throughout the year I would examine my responsibilities, direct them towards my goals and hopefully be rewarded financially for meeting them at the end of the year. I believe I took for granted how helpful such a process is in moving one forward towards their aspirations. Why not apply such a process to all aspects of one’s life?
Unfortunately I cannot promise anyone big bonuses through this process, but I think you will find it satisfying and if anything, allow you to cut out some of your less than fruitful activities.
The process is simple; you can choose to read through the book or simply jump to the workshop and refer back to the sections when needed. Eventually you will end up with a one page summary like this:
Keith’s Best Year Yet 2011
- No place to go, nothing to do
- Trust my intuition: choose nourishment over diminishment, always.
- Do the difficult things first
- My Inner work is evolving into a creative means of service to humanity
TOP TEN GOALS
- Develop a formal writing process and implement it: 2 blog entries a week and personal journal with weekly goal review and reflection
- Lead and complete technical peak climb of at least Grade III, 7+
- Innovate business idea and financial plan to support it
- Organize and take a destination trip with my family
The intention of the short summary is for you to have something concise and easily referenceable (You’ll be able to essentially memorize it after a couple weeks).
Several aspects of the process stood out to me as particularly helpful:
1. Getting to the Guidelines. You look at the previous year, your accomplishments, your disappointments and the lessons learned from these. Your guidelines stem from the lessons learned – almost if you could go back to the start of last year and give yourself advice.
2. Developing the Paradigm shift. I thought this part was extremely innovative. You look at your last year, analyze the What do I say to myself to justify why I didn’t meet my goals? For example, I found things such as: I’m not a creative person; I am in a place where I need to develop myself first before I can help others, etc. You then turn these excuses (limiting paradigm) on their head, basically shifting a world-view you hold of yourself.
3. Determining the Focus: The workshop takes you through a process of cross-referencing your roles in life (boyfriend, athlete, yogi, and writer) with your values (self-realization, loving others, creative expression, etc.). You then put tic marks next to each role when it helps you focus on one of your values. This is where certain goals that you may have been holding onto for some time fall away. For example, I’m always saying that I want to re-learn Spanish. Yet it doesn’t fall into this matrix at all, and therefore (this year at least) is not a tangible goal.
After this process, you ask yourself, If I were able to put a big checkmark next to one of my roles at the end of this year, signifying a sense of mastery in it, which one would it be? This becomes your focus. For me, writer.
Finally you walk through your life roles and write 3-5 goals for each. You painstakingly have to trim this list down to 10 in total. This can be difficult, but it is one of the jewels of this process: remaining focused. Now a month after finishing these goals, I sometimes feel the 10 are unobtainable. I can only imagine if I started with 20.
And that’s it. I keep a copy of this list on my iPhone for quick reference, referring to it weekly or as needed. It has already helped me on a few major decisions where I am teetering back and forth. Instead of a long debate with myself, I simply say, is it on my list? When having to choose where to direct my energy, I have a set of guidelines that I can fall back on.
I did this process as a slow-burn over the course of a couple of weeks. But if you’re motivated you complete it on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone works differently, but my recommendation is to plan on at least two sittings. The first to read through the book and understand what is being asked from you. Then let it incubate a bit. Come back and actually do the goal setting exercises.
Here’s to your best year yet!