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Setting up Your New Year for Success

I recently did my own review of the past year, which is something I recommend for everyone if they want to see continuous success, year over year.

The practice in my case saw some areas that I fell short, and others that I exceeded my goals, particularly in book sales. On their own, they are just numbers, but the true value lies in the story they tell about what I did well and what I need to focus on for 2020. They lead me into SMART goal setting, so that I can realize better results in this new year.

My experience isn’t unusual from what yours is (or will be if you haven’t done your own evaluation yet). However, it’s important to take the time to take an honest look at your own performance. I didn’t say it would be easy, but it’s not supposed to be. Anything rewarding is often uncomfortable — some of you may even say painful. But that’s where the “no pain, no gain” phrase comes from, right?

So let me unpack the process a little if you have not already done your own evaluation. For me, I had the previous year’s stats — revenue, book sales, etc., — which also gave me a quantifiable comparison of how my year went. However, if this is your first formal attempt to evaluate your performance, you will need to establish your numbers as a baseline, and instead use them to establish your goals for the year ahead.

You should also be prepared with a notebook to answer these questions:

If you felt you saw growth, how did you grow? Be detailed.

Knowing what your strengths are, did you use them consistently throughout the year?

What do you wish you had spent more time on?

What do you wish to avoid in 2020?

I can’t stress enough how spending time to thoughtfully and honestly answering these and all questions will make this process effective. The idea is to look back, understand where you are right now, and use the knowledge and insight you’ve gained to create and intend a successful year ahead.

As the first set of questions looks backward, your next step is to ask yourself about how you feel about where you are NOW. Even if the year may have been a struggle, or seen its share of disappointment, it is possible that you are still positive about your goals, your experience, and your performance. Examine this carefully, the positive as well as the negative.

If you aren’t satisfied by your current situation, what is your motivation to change it?

What brings you the most excitement and joy?

What do you want to let go of? Say no to?

Are you where you wanted to be at this point in your life?

As I said, these aren’t easy questions, and they will likely make you uncomfortable. Note what your emotions are (envy, regret, sadness) as well to help you understand what may underlie your current position. This is why it’s really important to review your answers with someone who is objective and can take your input to create a plan for success in the year to come.

The third step is one where you should create your story for the coming year. I often talk about creating your puzzle when setting your goals. Much like a 500-piece jigsaw, you have a multitude of tasks you need to accomplish before you can realize your goals. Rarely does anyone put those pieces together without having that completed picture in front of them. The pieces aren’t by themselves easy to put together.

However, when you keep your eye on the big picture, you are able to see which part of that picture each piece is. The same applies to planning your year. What pieces will be most important to achieving your goals? Where do they fit in the process — or do some actually belong in another puzzle?

The key is in having a story written for the year ahead — people with a strong, detailed and clear vision of what success looks like are far more likely to achieve that vision. Think of seeing yourself in a position, with a company that gives you the opportunity to use your talents. Envision the feeling of satisfaction and success, and even see what such success will afford you to have, like a nice house or a new car.

Beyond dreaming, the vision you set for yourself can be the motivating factor in you jumping out of bed every morning versus dreading another day. Again, having a mentor or coach can keep your goals and your vision attainable within the year ahead. A vision isn’t a mere wish or fancy — it’s a clear picture of the realization of your goals.

Get started if you have not already done so. There is a lot of work ahead, but if it’s executed well and with an experienced ally to guide you and keep you accountable and on track. There is also an amazing reward waiting for you at the end of this year, and each day gone by gives you less time to realize it.