Are You Confident That 2014 Will Be a Building Block That's on Track for the Future You Want to Build?

When I hear people talk about how they are unsure of how to plan for the upcoming year I sometimes think of the ancient explorers.

Let’s say an explorer wants to reach China from North America by ship in 5 years – remember, ancient explorers – no airplanes. It doesn’t happen in one step. It’s incremental.

So for this year let’s just focus on getting to Hawaii. It’s at least in the right direction of China – Hawaii becomes a ‘building block’ to landing in China.

It’s a simple and straight-forward concept and yet it never ceases to amaze me how many people miss this get it and decide to have short range plans or no plans at all.

A little thought and a little design could be a significant building block towards the future they want.

Here’s what I usually recommend: A 1-year, 5-year and 20-year plan.

The 20-year plan is naturally vague. No one has a crystal ball. It’s more of a guidepost. The 5-year plan is a reachable goal and the 1-year plan is the building block towards the 5 year plan. Simple.

If you have some idea of where you want to be in 5 years, and most people can think their way to that, then this coming year could be a major building block towards that.

Naturally what flows out of that plan are the priorities set by the future that you want rather than the demands of life that stare us all in the face: emails, to-do lists, someone else’s priorities, etc.

That’s where crafting and designing your year comes into play – to help remind you where you’re headed.

Using goals as guideposts can be a profound way to live the year and build the confidence that comes with feeling on track.

It’s about being proactive instead of reactive, guided by something beyond what you can see in the next year. Rather, guided by your dream of where you want to be down the road.

Very powerful stuff!

Are you confident that this year will serve as your building block to the future you really want?

Looking Back in Order to Plan Ahead - How to End the Year in a Really Great Way

People have different relationships with the ending of one year and the beginning of another. Some people love this time of reflection and planning while others, not so much. 

Regardless of what side of the fence you land the end of the year always brings with it something else – the start of a new one and the chance to improve. 

Looking back in order to plan ahead can pay huge dividends in both our business and personal life. 

Many people hate looking back. Why is that?

When we look back on the current year it’s human nature to focus more on what went wrong instead of what went well. Regrets are natural.

Using this simple exercise this year I discovered that I was tired of struggling with a necessary (but annoying) component of my business that I dreaded doing. I learned it was draining my energy and passion and I regretted not doing anything about it sooner. So instead of struggling I hired a professional to take that part over.

What a huge learning – and relief - for me! I can now focus on what I’m best at, and love to do. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without releasing some regrets.

How do you release regret?

Simple. 

Ask yourself some very pointed, very specific questions. And write down your very pointed and specific answers. 

At the top of the page write: 

When I look back at my year… 

What did I deal with, resolve or in some way handle for the first time? 

What did I decide I would never do again?

What lesson(s), painful or otherwise, did I learn? 

What did I improve or advance in some way? 

What new insights and perspectives did I gain? 

In what areas of my business/life did I succeed? 

In what areas of my business/life did I fail? 

What new life ambitions did I create? 

The real key to getting past the regret is to ‘recover’: rethinking and reframing past events allows you to let go and move forward. But you can’t do any of that without first acknowledging - the good as well as the bad. 

And remember, the insights don’t all need to be about the business. Using this reflection technique I rekindled my passion for learning how to surf.  Now I can look forward to building my business and recommitting to a personal passion this year. All I had to do was take a quick look at the current year before I plan ahead for the one coming. 

Too many of us drift from one year into the next without fully realizing what we’ve accomplished and what we can accomplish in the year ahead. 

Using these questions can help you understand and acknowledge what you’ve learned and can have a direct, and potentially huge, impact on your upcoming year – it has on mine. 

If you had one big disappointment from last year that you could reflect upon, acknowledge and release what would that be? How would letting that go help you in the year ahead?

3 - Getting Your Aspirations Front and Center

Next, I think about the larger view of my life and business and try to reconnect with where I'm headed five or ten years out.  Doing this can be painful and disheartening because I may find I've either given up on what I want and dream about or worse, forgotten about it. 

Yes, I've been busy, busy busy doing all the necessary and urgent things but where am I headed?   I write about this to unearth my true dreams and bring them back to life.