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Are you ready for 2013?

By Ken and Lee Estridge

Last year we sent out a version of this article, and we were delighted to hear from many readers that they found it very useful and that it required more than an hour to work through the exercise. We suggested that you set aside an hour for this exercise, but this year we're suggesting that you schedule a day with yourself so that you can take the time to maximize the value of this exercise.

For many individuals and organizations, being "ready" for 2013 means updating their version of what they hoped and planned to do in 2012. Oftentimes, New Year's Resolutions become wishful thinking that result in little or no change in your daily activities or the quality of your life. We would like to encourage you to look deeper and consider the lessons of 2012. The following exercise is designed to help you be thoughtful and deliberate about planning your personal and professional goals for 2013.

Schedule a Day for Yourself

Setting aside a day sounds simple, but it can be elusive to many of us, so be sure to book the day as if it were an important appointment or meeting (because it is, really). Think of this time as an investment in your future, not a simple "to-do list" exercise. Be sure that you have the time to honestly work through the exercise. Now, turn off your phone and grab something to write on or turn on your computer.

The Four Directions

1. Look back at your life both personally & professionally:

  • What worked well in the past year?
  • What didn't work well and why?
  • What surprised you?
  • Who or what disappointed you?
  • Who or what delighted you?

2. Look inward:

  • What activities gave you the greatest joy and satisfaction?
  • What activities or people gave you energy?
  • Who or what drained your energy?
  • Who or what are you most thankful for?
  • What activities were a bad use of your time that you wish you could've delegated or dropped?
  • If you could have cloned yourself, what would your other "you" have done?
  • What would have been the impact of doing the things you told yourself you were too busy to do?
  • What were your biggest mistakes?
  • What did you learn from making mistakes and how did you put that learning to use? Remember - mistakes are gifts in disguise; they can be our best teachers.

3. Look outward:

  • How did your world change during the past year?
  • What major events that were outside of your control affect the quality of your life?
  • What opportunities or challenges presented themselves?
  • How is your world likely to change over the next year?
  • What new opportunities or challenges are likely to emerge?
  • How has the economy and competitive landscape changed?

4. Look forward

  • What do you want more of in your life?
  • What do you want less of?
  • Who do you want to spend more time with?
  • Who do you want to spend less time with?
  • What are the most important things you want to accomplish?
  • What do you need to learn to accomplish these things?
  • What is your single most important goal?
  • What is your action plan for realizing your goals?
  • What support do you need to accomplish your goals and move your life and work forward?

Healthy Habit: Reflection and Planning

After you've written up your answers, share them with a trusted friend, colleague, or family member. This will help you feel accountable to yourself and will provide some reality testing about your plan. If you are a business leader, be sure to share your goals with your team and confirm that you all agree about your top priorities. Re-read and think about your plan at least once a month. Reviewing your plan for 2013 will keep you clear about your intentions and will help keep you focused on what really matters as you move through challenging moments during the year. Ultimately, you will use your 2013 plan as a jumping off point for thinking about 2014.

Thanks for reading our newsletter, and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.

Ken and Lee