New Year Evolutions, Part 1

I’ve read article after article this past week about New Year’s resolutions. How to make them. Why to make them. How to forgive yourself when you fail to keep your resolutions. That’s why I avoid making them.

Then I stumbled across an article that prompted me to think differently. Not about New Year’s resolutions, but about how I make small, seemingly inconsequential, decisions every day that define how I feel about myself and the way my life is unfolding.

The article focused on time management. It offered a method to think about how I use time and apply my energy that resonated with me, because I haven’t used my time and energy to move in the direction I want to go.

I don’t lack for goals. I have a very clear vision of where I want to go and what I want to become, of the kind of relationships I want, of the kind of work I want to do, and of what will make me feel whole in this life. What I haven’t done well is to make the changes that consistently move me in the right direction.

The author, on the Fast Company web site, offered a simple grid format for thinking about using my time and energy, exactly like the planning grids I’ve used for years in my business life. The difference: the article changed what I put into each box and how I viewed each item in terms of expectation and time frame.

In the end, I selected seven areas of my life to focus on. It’s worth noting that there’s nothing new about these areas. They’re the same seven areas I’ve set goals around for years.

Instead of focusing on the big, hairy goals, however, the article encouraged me set specific goals for the next 90 days. Then to repeat the process for the 90 days after that, and for the 90 days after that, until I had goals for four 90-day periods completed. Then it asked me write down the outcome of meeting each quarter’s goals, stating clearly where I would be in a year after achieving those goals.

Sounds simple enough, eh? But how many of us truly look at ourselves and how we approach our lives in such small, specific chunks? I know I usually don’t.

The process also helped me avoid my innate ability to punish myself for missed goals or less-than-perfect outcomes. The exercise started with today, and it discouraged me from trying to catch up for past failures. It helped me to accept my reality as it is today, and to focus on moving steadily forward in small increments, rather than swallowing every issue whole.

What was most compelling to me were the outcome statements. I could truly see achieving each during the next 12 months. That’s exciting to me, and the road map I’ve laid out feels very realistic. The process isn’t leading me toward some overnight change that instantly transforms me. Instead, it’s an evolutionary process, a growth process that I can consciously choose to experience and enjoy.

Once again, I have no resolutions to declare as the calendar opens a new year.  But, I do have my goals and a plan for accomplishing them. I call them my New Year’s Evolutions.

About Michael Withiam
Michael Withiam is a communicator and a leader, all of which he applies to his life as a writer, editor, journalist, business executive, community volunteer, and teacher. You can learn more about Michael by reading his full bio on this blog, visiting his LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, or by contacting him directly.

6 Responses to New Year Evolutions, Part 1

  1. I didn’t know you had a wordpress blog! Where have I been? I like the 90 day goal blocks instead of an entire year. Mine was not to eat any sugar. But not eating sugar for 90 days as opposed to the whole year, or the rest of my life seems much more doable! Thanks for passing it on!

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  2. Tammie Elliott says:

    New Year’s Evolutions! Love that attitude……good advice, Michael. Thank you for some interesting food for thought. I am off to set up my grid now…..

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  3. Mary Marrin-Cross says:

    Hello Michael

    Hmm must say, A Very Successful Goal New Year to You Sir!

    I very much liked your blog here…must say that I identified with it…it works, it just has to be a daily thought process to sit and think and follow your dreams…I once had someone tell me what I conciously dream of just isn’t real…no kidding…but it is how you think about the process of making your dreams come true that is the difference between whether or not they come to fuition…it is a process …and you are doing this! One step at a time..a concious thought … a page now to fit them into….the adrenalen when you log in and read them over and then this day maybe read them one more time…wow …you Sir can do this…this is what I say to myself…you get it done girl….move!

    p.s. I am the curious one in nature…

    Love your Blog

    Mare

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    • Hi Mary — Thanks for your comments and feedback. I always like to know something I’ve shared connected with someone. And thanks for subscribing to At the End of Dock. I plan to evolve into a more consistent schedule of posts as the year progresses.

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  4. Interesting thoughts, Mike. Thanks for the idea.
    Which issue of Fast Company and who was the author?
    Some of my clients might also benefit from reading ti article.

    Happy New Year!
    Perry

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    • Hi Perry — Thanks for the feedback. I came across the article on Fast Company’s web site…presented to me through one of several news sources I look at daily. It was written by Kaihan Krippendorff and here’s the title and link: Hack Your Productivity: A Time-Management Geek’s 10-Minute Solution by KAIHAN KRIPPENDORFF. Found at http://www.fastcompany.com/1802627/your-most-productive-week-ever

      I’m sure you’ll find a way to work the ideas into your teaching and consulting. Your work with us at Cox was always thought-provoking. I will also reach out to you in the next few days to learn more about the writer’s retreat you attended a few weeks ago. That experience intrigues me.

      All the best to you in 2012.

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