At least once in the next few weeks you’ll probably be sitting around discussing the year that’s been and your hopes for the coming year. We know New Year is the traditional time for some introspection, some goalsetting.
And what happens when you get back to ‘life as normal’? How often have you had a great holiday and come back determined that this year you’ll do things differently? But within a few weeks it’s as if you’ve never been away – you blink and it’s Easter. And life is back to its old frenetic state.
Why is that, do you think?
Could it be that the good intentions weren’t translated into more specific goals? And were they written down?
I’ve specialised in time management for 20 years. Never at any time has my opinion changed as to the MOST IMPORTANTfactor – a clear set of comprehensive written (or pictured) goals. If we don’t have that starting point, how on earth can we make the best time choices when options (often masquerading as interruptions or other people) present themselves?
The most powerful time management tool we have is the ability to say NO (not in a career limiting or relationship limiting way, I hasten to add).
However, if we either don’t know what’s really important to us, or we’re not putting any focused energy into things we give lip-service to, time will slip away. We’ll find ourselves majoring in minor things. Those dreams are pushed back – yet again.
Here are a few tips to help you set – and achieve – this New Year’s Big Picture goals
1. Find a quiet spot.
2. Don’t attempt it with other people making noise around you – you must have ‘alone’ thinking time.
3. Think as far into your future as you can – at least a year out and ideally much further ahead.
4. If something comes into your mind, don’t dismiss it with thoughts of: ‘I can’t do that’, or ‘It’s not practical’. Instead, listen to your intuition.
5. Initially do goals for yourself, not the others in your life.
It’s not selfish – it’s just easier. If other people will be involved with some of them, negotiate later. Some things may have to be shifted out a bit but you need to be clear on your own thoughts before you can have a useful conversation with someone else.
6. Nothing is too small or too large.
A small thing can sometimes be the trigger that leads to the fulfilment of a much bigger goal.
7. Don’t limit yourself – forget ‘realistic’ for now.
Dream big. It isn’t your imminent tasks or relatively easy projects we’re interested in at this stage. They come later. ‘Realistic’ is entirely too limiting for long-term dream goals. Who wants to be realistic? Or only choose goals that are easily achievable? How boring!
8. Write your goals down.
Many people will say, ‘Oh, I know what’s important to me. Why do I need to record it?’
Have you noticed that the exercise of putting your thoughts down on paper forces clarity?
9. Be very specific.
Don’t say ‘I want more money’, ‘I want a new house’, or ‘I want to travel’. Instead specify how much. Describe what the house will look like. What atmosphere? How many rooms? Do you want a garden? Where will you travel? For how long? What specific activities do you wish to do when you’re there?
10. Find or make pictures to represent your words and thoughts.
Make a collage, a poster, a scrapbook or some kind of visual reminder. Pictures are incredibly powerful. Get them wherever you’ll see them constantly – it might be your fridge, your office wall or maybe your bathroom.
After a while they’ll become wallpaper and you’ll hardly notice them most of the time. However, the message continues to impact your sub-conscious. It might take some years, but you’ll be amazed at the result.