Make This Your Best Year Ever!

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of How can it be September already and fast approaching Autumn? So two-thirds of the way through 2014, with four months to go until the end of 2014, I’ve been wondering whether 2014 is shaping up to be your best year ever?

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”

The business philosopher, Jim Rohn, talked a lot about the seasons of life, and how we reap what we have sown. The results we’ve yielded in our businesses to date - the size of our Autumn harvest - will depend on whether we put the work in during the Spring and Summer. And if we sowed our seeds on fertile soil. Whether you’re on course to achieve the goals you set earlier in the year, or feel that they’re moving further out of reach, now is the perfect time to reflect on the year to date, refuel and refocus your efforts on those activities that will enable you to finish the year strong and set you up for a brilliant 2015.

Last Friday, I took a day out to spend some dedicated time doing just this - reflecting, re-fuelling and re-focusing. (I schedule a day out every month to review my progress against my business goals and set my priorities for the next quarter).  In the morning I took myself off to Connaught Water, a lake on the edge of Epping Forest and a short distance from where I live, to walk, relax, listen to music, and reflect. And in the afternoon I sat down over tea and cake (there’s got to be cake right?!) to capture the work of the morning.

This is the three step process I follow during my monthly goal setting and review meetings:

1. Reflect

I always find a beautiful place to work, somewhere I’ll be able to sit comfortably for a couple of hours with good light. I arranged to spend the day at a Spa once, thinking that this would be a great place for reflection and re-fuelling. But I forget that the lights are usually dimmed and people chatter, so I accomplished far less than I intended! Getting out in nature works perfectly for me. Sitting on a bench beside Connaught Water, I watched butterflies pirouetting, dragonflies dancing and the baby moorhens paddle past, watched by their attentive mum. This put me in touch with all the good things I’m grateful for in my life, setting a positive tone for the next hour or so during which I contemplated the following:

  • The 1, 3, 5 and 10 year goals I set at the beginning of the year for my business and the life I want to live.
  • Whether I achieved the goals I set for August, and if not, why not? (Read my article, ‘Your Schedule Reflects Your Priorities’ if you’d like some ideas to improve the way you manage your time).
  • Whether 2014 has gone as well as I intended so far. If not, what were the reasons for this? What was my part in this?
  • What do I need to do differently going forward? What do I need to practice more/ improve? What do I need to learn? Which one skill or habit, if I incrementally improved it, would benefit me and my business the most? Remember that the progress we make in our business is determined by our weakest skill, so if we develop this, our business will automatically move forward.

I then noted my insights in my journal, partly because I’m likely to forget them later on if I don’t, and partly because I will review periodically through the month.

2. Re-fuel

I then put on my headphones, listened to some inspiring music and headed off for a walk through the forest, allowing the work I’d just done to settle and seeing what insights and creative ideas came up during the next hour or so. Our most resourceful and ingenious thoughts and solutions arise when we allow our minds to switch off. I worked at a steady, relaxed pace during August so I didn’t need a lot of time out. But if my schedule had been frenetic, then I’d have taken longer to refuel. It’s essential that we take the time to look after ourselves, to manage our energy, because we can’t be great at work if we don’t feel great in ourselves.

3. Re-focus

Once I’d recharged my batteries, I headed back to the café to write up my plan for September, and the next quarter. I have short, medium and long term goals - both for my business and all the key areas of my life. So to use the analogy of mountain climbing, I’m very clear on my destination and what constitutes my Everest. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you’ll know that this involves thorough preparation, there are always many different routes to the summit, and that, as you’re climbing, you can’t see the whole route. You get to the top by taking incremental steps. And so my plan for September and the next quarter will take me a few more steps towards reaching each of my goals.

So if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to take a day out to review how 2014 has gone for you, re-charge your batteries and put together a written plan. This will help you to end the year strong and set you up for success in 2015.

Questions:

Do you regularly take time out to reflect on the direction of your business? What are you going to do to make this your best year ever?