I’ve never been a big fan of New Years Resolutions, they seem designed to set you up for failure. You create a lofty goal, but that initial enthusiasm isn’t enough to carry you through the whole year. Then you start to wonder how you’re going to pull it off, and all too often it falls apart.
So this past year I tried something different. I wrote before about how dedicating yourself to a change for 30 days is much easier than a full year, but I still wanted some way to commit to long term goals, and set myself up to succeed at them.
I first heard about the idea of annual reviews at Chris Gillebeau’s site, the Art of Non-Conformity. It’s like a New Year’s Resolution on steroids. It takes more time to do than just telling yourself next year I’m going to do ____, but it actually works.
I could explain the whole process, but he does it much better himself. The gist is you pick several areas of your life, and set goals for each one. Wait you might be saying, isn’t this going to make keeping them harder not easier with so many things to have to juggle? Nope, because you’ll also be working each goal down into several smaller chunks and actionable steps. I’ve wrote about this before, how when you’re setting goals and get stuck about how to follow through with them, break them down into smaller pieces and focus on the blockage point – the one thing that’ll make the biggest impact.
So at the end of 2011 I set my goals for this year, and I kept the excel document of them on my desktop, to easily refer back to throughout the year. Keeping them always visible helped, because then anytime I wasn’t sure what to do next or had some extra ambition and time at the end of the day I could just open the file and have it all laid out right there, ready to act on.
The point wasn’t to plan out the whole year in advance, but just every week or two peek at the list on a day off and spend maybe 15 minutes plotting what needed to happen next to get closer to each goal. Then work those smaller steps into the daily to do list, so they get worked on a little at a time. Usually people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a year.
Today is the last day of 2012. So how did I do? Well some goals I met, and others I didn’t.
Going full-time threw the whole thing off, because in December of 2011 I knew I would be quitting the Old Job, and that the next one I held wouldn’t be as profitable. So I played things safe with my goals, and didn’t plan on full-timing this year in case the job situation ended up being less than ideal.
Well we all know how that turned out. I learned something important though, be honest with yourself. I wanted to go full-timing more than anything, that should have been all the proof I needed that it should go on my goal list, even if I wasn’t sure how I would pull it off. But I let my brain do the deciding, and not my heart. So no, I didn’t get everything on my list done since I ended up RVing instead (actually, if you try this out and find that you do, then you probably didn’t challenge yourself enough and might want to try for harder goals next time), but I still had an excellent 2012, there is no doubt.
I’m a bit behind in planning for 2013, but I have a few solid goals already figured out, and some others that I am debating on. For instance I’d planning on performing at a renaissance faire next year with Julie, it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m excited about what 2013 may hold, I’ve learned a lot about full-timing so far, and I’m prepared to keep charging ahead! What about you? What’s one thing you want to accomplish next year?