You will learn more from your failures than your successes.
Today is New Year’s Eve. This is one of my favorite days of the year not only because it ends with a celebration, but also because it starts as both an opportunity to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Every year on New Year’s Eve, I have carried out a tradition that has helped me to achieve many of my successes. But this year I realized the tradition needed an upgrade.
The tradition? Like each of the last 10 New Year’s Eves, I woke up and spent a few hours making myself a comprehensive written list of my biggest goals for the next year. Before I wrote out my 2019 goals, I reviewed the goals I had set on the previous New Year’s Eve to see if there were any still outstanding. This act left me feeling depressed, but also gave me the inspiration for this email.
Although I was proud to see most of my 2018 goals were accomplished, there were a few that went unattempted. And as I looked at that list, I realized those goals were probably the most important. So, from the outside, 2018 looked like another year of growth and success for me. But on the inside, there are areas where I still felt like a failure.
I had to ask myself, “If these goals were so important, why did you let yourself down?” Being a Type-A achiever, I tried to understand why these goals went another 365 days unaddressed?
As I started researching how I could better follow through on my resolutions, I quickly realized it has become accepted that most resolutions and goals set on New Year’s won’t come to fruition. And because of that widespread belief, New Year’s Resolutions have become more the brunt of gut-splitting jokes instead of the opportunity for life-changing endeavors. Here are just some of the less than encouraging thoughts I found about resolutions:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result means you are either insane or setting a New Year’s resolution.”
“My New Year’s resolution is to stop hanging out with people who expect me to follow through on my New Year’s resolutions.”
“My New Year’s resolution is for everyone else to gain the 50 pounds I refuse to lose.”
“My New Year’s resolution is to break my New Year’s resolutions. That way I will finally succeed at something!”’
“I am hoping this year all my troubles last as long as my New Year’s resolutions.”
Unfortunately, even I have promoted this concept (as you can see with the photo I attached to the email.) No one wants to let themselves down, yet everyone knows when they have let that happen. In an attempt to reverse this line of thought, I uncovered a process to give you a better chance to follow through on your goals. Of all the exercises I have delivered over the years, this one could be the most powerful.
I hope today you spend some time writing out your goals and resolutions for 2019. Before you do this, however, I challenge you to take on this exercise. This exercise has 5 simple steps. Carry these out and not only will your true goals become clearer, but you can also make sure 2019 is your most fulfilling year yet.
THE MOST IMPORTANT EXERCISE OF 2019
Step 1: Decide What You Really Want
Why may you feel depressed when you look back at last year’s goals? Because there is a misalignment between what you wanted most and your actions! And in order to get it right, you simply have to get the alignment right. But to do that, first you have to decide what you want most. Step 1 requires you to ask the following question and list the 5-6 things that are most important in your life. When making your list, think of these as the things you value most in your life and cannot live without.
“What are the most important things to you?”
Step 2: Make The Important Thing The Important Thing
If you were to answer Step 1 truthfully, I am sure your list would include your family and friends, your health and hobbies, your finances, your faith and your work. Upon reflection, you should discover that these (unlike your car, TV shows, coffee and social media) are the things that you cannot live without. Regardless of the list you created, Step 2 is to now prioritize that list with the following question:
“What are your most important things in order of importance?”
Step 3: Evaluate Your Time
Now that you understand your most important things of value in order, the next step is to write down both how much time you should be and actually are dedicating to each area of importance. You can do this either in a number of hours per day or overall percentage of time allotted to each area.
“How much time do you dedicate to your important things?”
Step 4: Identify The Discrepancies
To complete this step, place your two time lists next to each other and identify the biggest time differences between where you think you should be spending your time and where you are actually spending it. If you are like me, although my family was number one on my list, in 2018 it was still where I did not invest enough of my time. And as a result, today I could feel the misalignment. The same was true for my health and faith. These were often at the expense of my work and other things that didn’t even make my list in step 1 (social media was definitely up there and not always considered work!)
“Where are the time discrepancies between what you value most and your actions?”
Step 5: Create Your Action Plan
With your list of what is most important and how much time you should be investing, you are now better armed to create goals that will lead to a fulfilling 2019. Take some time today and write out your goals in accordance with what is most important to you.
“What are you going to do about it?”
2019 is a new year. The next 365 days are your opportunity to align where you spend your time with what is most important to you. The greatest mistake is to make the same mistake. Don’t spend another year focused on what isn’t important. Invest your time today and create the plan for your best year yet.
Will you make quality time for your family?
Will you commit to 8 hours of sleep?
Will this be the year you create a financial plan and stick to it?
Will you take up a language, art or skill?
Will you be strong enough to turn off the phone and work at a decent hour?
When you commit to the 5-Steps above, I promise the results will be more fulfilling than FB likes, Instagram views or another series of shows. But only you can decide. The challenge isn’t writing out your goals. It is prioritizing your life in order to stick to them. Even when you know what you want, you must have the courage to align your life in order to spend the appropriate amount of time there.
One definition I have for success is living a life aligned with your highest values. Success will come with alignment. Just like any exercise, this one will take dedication and hard work. But I promise on next New Year’s Eve, if you stay aligned with what you discover today, you will say it was worth it.
Happy New Year,