As we say goodbye to 2013 you might well be taking a moment to reflect on the year that has passed, identifying what has worked and what hasn’t, making plans for an even better 2014.
You might decide to kick old habits or to take up new hobbies*.
Your focus might be on making your relationships better or advancing your career.
You might be lucky and decide that life is just perfect as it is.
Whatever your personal idea of success, however near or far you find yourself from it, you may find some of these tools, ideas and techniques helpful in today and in the year ahead.
This post is not intended to provide the answer to life, the universe and everything (anyhow, we already know that it’s ‘42’), instead it is just my attempt to list some of the many people, ideas, tools and techniques that I have found helpful as I move through the year.
Start with the end in mind
One of the most useful skills I have learnt over the years is the art of successful goal setting. Identifying what I would like to achieve, and the steps necessary to achieve it over a given period.
For many years I persevered with the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resource-Orientated and Timed) approach, which provided me with a list of quantifiable targets – however, in the same process, a set of failures to beat myself around the head with at some later stage.
It was only when I was introduced to the idea of the ‘Well Formed Outcome’ that goal setting really started to work for me.
The principals behind setting a well-formed outcome are not all that different from SMART. However, there are a couple of parts, that for me, make all the difference.
The first is to start with the end result truly in mind. What is it you would like to achieve? Imagining that you have achieved it, what would let you know that you have? What sights, sounds and feelings would accompany that success? What physical evidence might there be for it?
In all cases the success should be stated in the positive – so rather than ‘I would like to give up smoking’, perhaps, ‘I would like to breathe easy, have more energy and have the money I need for that holiday’.
The second part of the process that really resonated with me was the ‘ecology check’.
It is easy to set lofty goals at the start of a new year, or for that matter any time of year; however, what will the goal really cost us? Are those sacrifices ones we are happy to make? And are those sacrifices consistent with the other values in our life?
The ecology check comes down to a series of four questions asked at the end of your goal setting process. Although they sound repetitive, each one plays an important role in forcing you to consider the outcome.
- What will I get if I do achieve my goal?
- What won’t I get if I achieve my goal?
- What will I get if I don’t achieve my goal?
- What won’t I get if I don’t achieve my goal?
By considering each question in turn we allow our subconscious to flag up any issues, and might be that we realize that goal isn’t as important as we may have first thought.
I picked up this technique while training for my NLP Practitioner with Evolution Personal and Corporate Development. They provide a handy download on their website which may help you – you can find it here.
If you’re searching for something more universal, a more general impression of what will make you feel you are achieving success in your everyday life then I can also recommend ‘I Can Make You Rich’ by Paul McKenna. Despite the corny title some of the techniques listed can be really useful in defining what is important in your life and help you to achieve a sense of ‘richness’.
There are literally thousands of apps and programs that can help you on your way to achieving your goals. A couple I have come across recently and intend to use in the year ahead are Everest and Lift – both of these were referenced in this Fast Co. article released earlier this week.
It is important as you move through the year ahead to take time to recognise your successes. To take a step back and appreciate all that you have in your life, and what it means to you.
It is often easier to focus on what is not right, what we would like to do better, what we would like to change rather than to take time to think about what is good, what we have achieved and what we would like to maintain in our lives.
However, it is often the act of recongising our victories that really drives our success, by focusing on the positives we place our attention on gaining more of that in our life, rather than the fear of negative consequences that might come from failure.
You should find a method that works for you, it may be that simply taking two minutes each day to appreciate all that is good in your life is enough. Others will prefer to store those thoughts for later reflection – in which case a diary might be a good place for those thoughts, or perhaps an app like iDoneThis.
Whatever method you choose, just remember to appreciate your successes.
When things do go wrong, don’t ask ‘What did I do wrong?’ instead try ‘What did I expect to happen when I did this?’ and ‘What could I do differently next time?’.
Your time is precious
If you haven’t already watched the beautiful video below take a two and a half minutes to watch it right now.
What are you doing with the remaining beans?
2014 has 365.5 beans in it. I hope that some of them are your favorite flavor, some of them you share with someone special and that, perhaps, one or two prove to be magical.
Happy New Year.
*P.S. If you are looking to take up a new hobby I can thoroughly recommend fencing (of the sword variety, rather than stolen goods or garden perimeters). If you’re in Cornwall there’ s a particularly good club in Truro which you can find here.