It’s that time of year again… Time to plan for the new year set new goals and build new habits. With this in mind, how can you take advantage of the holidays to plan ahead and start the new year right?
Here are my suggestions on a few key things to think about this holiday season:
1. Reflect on what went well (and not so well)
Before you get carried away thinking about everything you want to achieve next year, take a few minutes to reflect on what went well (and not so well) in 2017.
In January, I followed the advice of Tim Ferriss and looked at my calendar for the entire previous year to get a sense of how I spent my time. With this overview, I asked myself, what were the 20% of activities or people that contributed to 80% of my desired results and positive outcomes? And likewise, what were the 20% of things/people etc. that contributed to 80% of my negative outcomes?
You only need to spend about 20-30 minutes on this jotting down your observations in two columns in a notebook and you’ll be amazed at what stands out.
2. Set your goals for 2018
With this analysis complete, you can start to think about what you’d like to achieve in 2018.
There are endless resources available online to help with goal setting (so I won’t bore you by repeating what you probably already know). Instead, I’ll simply emphasize the importance of taking time now to think about what you want to do and achieve in 2018. If you don’t take the time now, you’ll very quickly end up back in the daily grind of work/study (or whatever you do) at the mercy of the people and distractions around you. If you don’t think about what YOU want to do and how YOU want to use your time, chances are, someone will make the decision for you.
Personally, I like to plan business and personal goals and keep them all stored in Asana where I can make quickly refer to them. Keeping goals in my daily task manager makes it easier to bridge the gap between the big picture and the small things I need to do TODAY or this week.
I then plot out my goals in an annual calendar format to show exactly WHEN I’m going to focus on them because you can’t (or shouldn’t) do it all at once.
3. Test new habits (before you commit)
January is usually a time for starting new habits. Every year we all pledge to read more, meditate every day and go to the gym 4 times a week.
These habits aren’t always sustainable and sometimes we focus on habits that don’t fit with our routines.
So, here’s my recommendation (which I’ve been putting to practice recently). Instead of starting your new habits on January 1st, trial a few new things in December to see what you like and what you’re more likely to stick with. Trial these habits during your “normal” week (and not just when you’re taking time off) so you can see if it’s possible to make time for this thing during a normal day.
For example, maybe you’re thinking about reading more. Trial reading at different times of the day to see when it suits you better. Maybe you find it easier during lunch while you eat. Or perhaps you prefer reading at the end of the day when the kids are asleep. Is it easier to read physical books (which are easier on the eye) or using a Kindle (which is smaller and more portable)?
In the new year, I’m planning on starting the Wim Hof Method but I’ve been experimenting with when and how to do the breathing and cold therapy exercises to see what time of day is going to suit me best.
One final thought – think about habits that support your goals from step two. If one of your goals is to lose weight, what eating and exercise habits are you going to follow. And for professional or business habits, what books can you read to upskill yourself?
4. Plan your routine
With your goals and habits in mind, now you can think about how you want to run your day in 2018. In other words, what would the ideal day look like to you? I find planning this out on a calendar to be most effective:
- What time do you want to wake up?
- When are you going to work on your habits? e.g. if you’re going to meditate, are you going to do this in the morning, or afternoon? Put this on your calendar and set to REPEAT!
- Are you going to go for walks at lunch?
- How often do you want to socialize with friends and work on old relationships?
Making these commitments on your calendar is a great way of turning good INTENTION into ACTION.
5. Take time to relax and recover
Finally, remember to relax and enjoy some time off this holiday season. You’ve worked hard. Kick your feet up and use this time to get a few extra hours of sleep and recover.
This is the best time of the year to step back, reassess, plan ahead and make the change.