Growing up, the week between Christmas and New Year’s was always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It was always a period of family time and celebrating the season. My dad worked for a company that closed for the week and so we had a ton of great family time. When my wife and I started our family, we also knew we wanted this week to be special. We have always taken the week off to enjoy family time for Christmas, do fun winter activities, and relax and prepare for the year ahead.
Preparing for the New Year is a very intentional process for me. There are three major components to it: reflecting on the year that was, setting the intention for the year to come, and preparing my environment to get after it on January 2nd.
“All is well that begins well.” -John C. Maxwell
In reflecting on the year that was, I follow a process adapted from one of my mentors that he shared with me. I call it my Year in Review Process. Yeah, clever name, right?This process is always evolving as I grow, and each year I get better at it. First, I grab a pen and legal pad and begin by reviewing my calendar. Looking back through the year, I jot down all my accomplishments, the people I met and the impact of those relationships. I note the projects that were completed, and the ones left incomplete. A review of my goals from the year helps me identify where I succeeded and where I failed. Next, I ask myself a series of questions about the year and get a clear picture of what was. I also review the life metrics that I have determined to track. A review of books read, financial metrics, miles traveled, cities visited, experiences with family, etc. The entire process takes me several hours, often spread out over a few days. Truth be told though, I often get so excited about this time of year that I begin thinking about my Year in Review in early December. However, I try not to invest much time in it then because I am still going after my goals right up to the end.
Once the Year in Review is complete, I begin setting the intention for the year to come. It starts with a word. Each year, I select a word that will be my true north for the year. For example, a few years back it was growth. Personal growth was an area I was struggling in and had some work to do. The following year was focus. This past year, the word was impact. The word sets the tone for me.
“You will either step forward into growth or backward into safety.” -Abraham Maslow
Next, I select a quote that fits the theme for the year. Something that inspires me and I can read frequently to keep my energy on track. I keep the word and quote in an Evernote file and title it Annual Goals. I read this frequently and keep it up to date with my progress and add goals as I complete them. That brings us to the next step…setting goals for the year to come. Like many people, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Goals work better for me. I keep my goals limited to roughly three per quarter, and focus on key life areas. Goals for my fitness, work, family, or finances are key areas to start with. Then I can get more specific with sub-goals to narrow my focus more. Lastly, I make a list of books I want to read, podcasts to check out, and other resources for my growth.
Now that my planning is done, I get the environment ready. My wife and I may be wierdos here, but we are all about taking down all the Christmas decorations, both inside and out, within a couple days of Christmas. Clean start. For us, it feels freeing and spacious once everything is down, and we begin to look forward. The days are already getting longer, and we use it to symbolize the new-ness coming.
you celebrate the season the way we do or not, this week can still be a great
time for reflection, planning and preparing your environment to hit the ground
running when the bell sounds on the New Year. Get after it, and make 2018 a
great year for you and yours.