Every leader that I have had the pleasure of working with over the last 30 years believes they will absolutely, without any hesitation, make the upcoming year better than the last. They are not always sure how, but they know they will.
They have good intentions as the New Year begins — but their commitment quickly wanes as old habits and practices begin unconsciously taking hold. Before they realize it, their aspirations of having the Best Year Yet are long gone and they are focused solely on plowing through the “stuff” in order to complete tasks as close to on time as possible.
Does this feel like your life experience? Do you often look back at the end of a year and wonder, what did I achieve that was worthwhile, had meaning, and fulfilled me personally?
The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on the past, but not linger there. It’s a perfect time of year to identify the areas in your life that have been neglected, and yet are in need of your attention. It’s a perfect time of year to design, define, and declare the future you wish to live.
The executives I’ve worked with have learned key lessons from fully engaging in this intentional practice. They’ve learned:
- Doing more isn’t better
- Letting go is hard, but worth it
- Accepting it is hard to break old habits because they exist outside of our daily awareness
- Developing new habits take time, effort, and repetition
- Creating a rhythm for reflection is a nontrivial action that has a direct impact on overall satisfaction in realizing desired goals
What follows is a framework for a learning session you can do on your own. It mirrors the more in-depth session I lead leaders and their teams through that when acted upon has proven to generate extraordinary life experiences making the year the best yet.
Framework for Designing, Defining and Declaring the Best Year Yet
Begin by setting aside a minimum of 90 minutes of uninterrupted time. Be purposeful in selecting the where and when. Removing yourself from the daily chaos and noise will invite new insights and learning which are essential in designing the Best Year Yet.
A day before diving into your session, skim the video, the questions, and the exercise that follows. Notice if you have judgments and opinions that arise; suspend them to the best of your ability. This will take about 15 minutes. At this point, become familiar with the path you have chosen to embark on and recall the reason why you have chosen to invest the time and energy.
Preparation the day of the session is crucial — from the very moment you wake up. Check in with yourself and choose to fully engage. Notice if your inner voice is pushing you forward or pushing you to “opt out.” Take a stand for your future…and choose to “opt in” even if it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Recognize that 90 minutes is not really that long in the scheme of things and trust that this particular 90 minute block of time begin to shape a future where 2016 will be the Best Year Yet.
When the appointed time comes, begin by moving into a flow; the state of being where mind, mood, and body are moving in rhythm and with ease.
Settle in. Notice your breath. Our breathing is a gift. One that is given to us freely and yet we often take it for granted. Breathe deeply. If you notice your breathe is high in your chest, focus on breathing all the way down to your belly. When you’ve settled into a deep, slow your breathing pattern, then begin:
- Watch this 2 minute video at least once and consider all that has been present for you in the 12-months and how you overcame adversity.
- Answer the questions that follow
- Write your reflections don’t just think about them
- Make a generous list of
- Special moments you experienced in 2015 (personal & professional)
- Important accomplishments (personal & professional)
- What do you need to acknowledge yourself for, big or small, that maybe you’ve overlooked?
- What did I learn from the past 12 months?
- What were my top 3 most important business lessons?
- What were my top 3 life lessons?
- What was I doing (how was I being) when I achieved these best results?
- What do you value in life? (examples: freedom, clarity, collaboration, self respect, status)
- How do your behaviors and how you spend your time align with your values?
- In order to make 2016 the Best Year Yet, identify and list the 2-3 personal and/or professional goals that will allow you to live what is most valuable and important to you.
- Map your goals by identifying the small steps that you can begin now.
- Commit by setting time aside daily and/or weekly based on the goal to engage in the small steps. And stay with it even if it seems if time isn’t on your side.
- Recognize the resources you may need, what you may need to learn, and requests you may need to make in order to fulfill your promises to yourself.
- Celebrate daily, weekly and monthly. There’s no such thing as a small win.
- Imprint the future in your mind and heart.
- Close your eyes as you play the following:
- Now open your eyes and watch the video as you envision the future and your Best Year Yet. What do you notice about your mood, your thoughts, and the shape your physical body takes? Does it move you into action or something else? Taking just a small step toward the future you wish to have is all that is ever necessary. Take a small step daily and it will seem as if you’ve magically transformed your life.
Finally, don’t delay in creating time to engage in this practice and the small steps that you’ve identified. You are worth it. Give yourself permission to expand beyond what you ever thought was possible. Make you the priority in 2016 and you’ll find that others will benefit in ways that you can’t even imagine.