The only New Year’s resolution you or your business need this year is to incorporate principled and focused planning and take action. Principled planning is planning your actions around the principles that are important to you. Focused planning simply means identifying and scheduling specific actions that embody your principles. To phrase it another way, you want to focus on specific areas of your life that are important and meaningful to you, not on what circumstances may seem to dictate at any given moment. For the basis of this post I am going to write in terms of a personal life but the same holds true for realm business.
Incorporating this type of planning and following through will take care of every Yew Year’s resolution or goal you may have this year. The reason why this method is so effective is that it keeps the issues that are important and meaningful to you clearly in the forefront of your mind. Additionally, when you complete a task or activity that you schedule based on your principled questions there is a real sense of meaningful accomplishment, which is the basis of happiness.
The easiest way that I have found to accomplish this is to write a set of questions relating to your principles or goals to ask yourself at least once a day and implement the answers into some type of day-planner whether it be paper or electronic based.
I have been improving upon my time, task and goal management system for the past 27 years and I can honestly say that I have it just about where I want it. 2015 was the most productive and fulfilling year I have achieved and I attribute it to this process that I have assembled from bit and pieces of other experts in their respective fields. Maybe in the future I will write another post about exactly which software I use but for now the important piece is the concept and finding what works best for you.
Remember, people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year but greatly underestimate what they can accomplish in five or ten years.
So let’s begin.
Step 1. Determine what is important to you. This will certainly vary among individuals and your current life circumstances. Sit down in a quiet place and start writing what is important to you. The New Year is always a good time to perform this exercise but it may be a process you want to do more often. Write as much as you can. For example, you may write your health, your family, your career, your relationships, your mind, your hobbies etc... Now add more detail within each category. For example, in the area of health you may write; maintaining an ideal body weight, improving your flexibility or strength, improving your cardiovascular system, eating healthier or better quality foods etc…
Step 2. Identify a list of questions that you will ask yourself everyday that relate to the important principles you just identified in step 1. For example, you may have a list that includes questions similar to the following: What am I going to do today to improve my health? What am I going to do today to move me closer to my long-term goal(s)? What am I going to do today to improve my relationship with someone I care about? What am I going to do for myself today? These questions can be as general or specific as you want them to be. Remember, this is your list and your life and don’t be afraid to change the questions as time goes by.
Step 3. Generate your list of questions and develop a method to implement them into a day planner system. You must have some type of day-planner system for this method to be effective. The day-planner can be as elementary as a paper to-do list or as sophisticated as a mobile phone app or computer software program. One simple method is to keep the list of questions on separate piece of paper and write the answers in your to-do list or schedule them into your calendar. I started by designing my own paper day-planner that had these questions on the top of each page where there was room to write in the answers and then I would try to schedule the tasks throughout the day. A few years ago I moved to a software program that synchronized between my computer, tablet and phone. If you have generated a large list of questions you may want to only answer half of them one day and half the next day. Again, it’s your list and your life so make the most of it but do not make it overwhelming for yourself.
Step 4. Answer the questions and take action to accomplish them. Awe, there is a catch you are thinking. Yes, you do have to do something when your list of questions is completed. This is where most people fail. They do not take action or follow through. Well you are not most people and you are certainly capable to acting upon what you consider important and meaningful. My advice is to begin with small steps or answers to your questions. For example, if your first questions is “What am I going to do today to improve my health?” Your answer may be: Drink four glasses of water or walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes as opposed to eat three healthy meals today or run on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish too much too fast. Anything you do that is an improvement over what you have been doing is a success. You will be amazed at what you will accomplish by taking small steps over the course of a year.
Step 5. Pick one question that you will ask yourself, answer and complete everyday. Yes, everyday. This is the one goal, resolution, dream or whatever you want to call it that will make the biggest difference in your life. In fact, it could change your life. It may take more than one year to accomplish this overall goal but that is OK. The momentum of taking action towards it everyday will keep you energized, excited and moving in the direction you are destined to go.
Finally, accept right now that there will be days when you do not accomplish everything you set out to do and that is not a failure on your part. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Events will occur that will be out of your control. You need to be somewhat flexible. But always accomplish the task related to your highest goal. You may have to adjust or scale down your answer. For example, if you were going to write a letter to a loved one, just address the envelope.
This was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome personally and the biggest (and most positive) change that I had to make in my system. I no longer measure my personal success on a daily basis. In short, I keep sort of a running scorecard for the month so I can see the balance in the important areas of my life. As long as the total quantity is reasonable and the balance is there for the month, I’m good. If I see I am trending out of balance I can refocus and change my priorities before it is too late. It’s sort of that, what gets measured gets managed principle. Well it’s true.
So make and keep the one New Year resolution of implementing principled and focused planning that will take care of all the rest. You won’t regret it.