Happy New Year to you! If you’re proactive person like me, then the first week of 2017 is the time to creatively plan for the new year. How can you make 2017 a successful, joyful and happy one? Here are some dos and don’ts for you to consider.
- DO creatively plan for the new year ahead. Why? As the motivational expert Brian Tracy points out, “Every minute in planning saves ten minutes in execution.” A good plan provides direction and focus. It clarifies what you need to do when in order to achieve specific goals and results. It creates an overview of key events, activities and projects that you encounter or want to tackle in the coming twelve months. It sets you up for progress and success.
And why should you creatively plan for the new year? We’re all unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for an effective yearly plan. So, be creative and listen to your intuition as you factor in those things that will make a positive difference in your life.
- DO start your planning by recalling your “strategic core”: (1) Who are you? What’s your core identity? (2) Why are you here? What’s your mission (or ultimate calling in life)? (3) How do you approach this mission? What are your values? (4) What is your general strategy that you employ to live up to your mission?
For example, I am an innovation expert and meta-creator on a mission to create innovators. I value creativity, progress and meaningful change. With my innovation company Thinkergy, we live up to this mission and values by setting up a network of licensed partners who train wanna-be innovators to effectively use our of novel, original and meaningful innovation methods.
- DON’T miss the opportunity to learn from the past. Look back to last year: How happy are you with your activities and achievements in 2016? How can you improve in the new year?
For example, overall I was happy with 2016. I wrote a book, upgraded one of our innovation methods and launched Thinkergy US, among others. I pushed myself really hard, but at a cost: By year end, I felt exhausted — no wonder, as I didn’t take time for an extended vacation. Lesson learned: do better this year.
- DO creatively plan your vacation first. It’s important to ensure your long-term productivity by avoiding burnout. I’ve blocked three weeks in August for a longer vacation, and earmarked four other extended weekends off. When will you take your time-outs in 2017?
- DON’T cram too much into your plan for 2017. Most people overestimate how much they can achieve in the short run (a day, week, month or year). So, be realistic when you creatively plan how much you can do in a year — and the following point can help you to set priorities.
- DO focus on “The ONE Thing”. In his book of the same title, Gary Keller recommends to ask a simple question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do so that by doing it everything else will be easier or redundant?”
When you plan your year ahead, determine your “one thing” for the whole year, as well as for each quarter and each month. Keep these in mind as you go through the year, and ask what’s the one thing you can do this week and today to move closer to your goals.
- DO cultivate an output focus. You only make progress if you produce tangible results. So, plan your main outputs for the year in total and for each quarter. As you go through 2017, settle on the one output you intend to produce by the end of each day, week, and month.
- DO check on your progress regularly. At the end of each time interval (day, week, month, quarter), review your results. Feel good about the outputs you’ve produced, celebrate major achievements and, if necessary, adjust your plans to reflect changes in priorities or the external environment.
- DO reflect on both your professional and private roles when you creatively plan for the new year. For example, I am an entrepreneur, creator, innovation guide, trainer, speaker, author, blogger, professor and researcher as part of my professional roles, as well as a partner, family member, friend, and society member as part of my private roles. How about you? Do you want to give all your roles equal weight in 2017? Or are there some that you want to emphasize in the year ahead? Here consider using ABC classification to rank your priorities.
In your private roles, for instance, you might ask yourself: What good things can I do for me in 2017? How can I deepen my personal relationships, make a better home, and improve my financial position?
- DO plan how you want to grow. After all, as the saying goes, “A tree is either growing or dying”. It’s important that we don’t stand still, but rather actively seek new learning and experiences. What new knowledge, skills or experiences do you want to acquire in 2017?
- DON’T forget to plan how you want to play. A good way to boost short-term happiness and ensure long-term productivity is to establish daily routines for play and balance. Do you take part in physical activities such as running or yoga to train your body and balance your mind? Do you engage in spiritual practices such as meditation? What can you do to play more and balance yourself?
- DON’T forget to say “No”. Many people don’t achieve their goals because they agree to take on tasks that are of high priority to others but not to themselves. In 2017, resolve to say “No” to all those things that take your time away from your “one thing”.
- Last but not least: DON’T be a slave to your yearly plan. A plan is only a rough guide to focus your efforts, so interpret it flexibly to react to unexpected events and surprises that could lead to dangers and/or new opportunities.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 5 January 2017.