Are the things you do day to day, and week to week, things you do because you choose to or because it’s just the way things are?
A few years ago a mentor of mine introduced me to a better way to start a new year.
Rather than resolutions (which are loose promises to ourselves that rarely last) we performed a visioneering exercise. The principle is based on a method from Stephen Covey and allows you to take a look at who you want to be in the next year.
Wondering what happened to the 5-year plan I wrote that year? I pulled it all off in 2. Setting goals works.
Set goals, not resolutions
Instead of shining a light on a negative aspect of yourself you want to change, you shine a light on the positive achievements you want to accomplish and how it feels to achieve them.
The way things are is not the way things have to be. Small incremental changes, over time, add up to great big monumental leaps.
You don’t have to feel stuck with bills and chasing shiny objects, big houses, or consumer things. Some of these items can be a nice side effect of success, but focusing on doing something that makes you fulfilled and happy is more important.
True joy comes from accomplishing things that matter to you, not from the latest iPhone.
If you feel stuck, or trapped in the work you do, it doesn’t have to be that way. While it feels foreboding and scary at first, you can choose to opt out of “the way things are”. Again, the way things are is not the way things have to be.
Successful people do this every day
Successful people hold themselves accountable for their work and they ship something every day that gets them closer to their goal. Every day, no matter how small. Not just when it feels right. Successful people create and share something meaningful at every opportunity.
Nobody just rolls over one day and IS successful. Every successful person out there started where you are now.
The first step is realizing that you want something better. The second is convincing yourself that you deserve it and that you are capable of living the life you’ve always dreamed of. The third step is the doozy, this is when you have to actually start.
Start doing something, anything, that will help you make even the smallest bit of progress towards your goals.
Start today by mapping out where you see yourself in 5 years, and work back from there. This is the basis of the visioneering exercise I mentioned above. Do the exercise below to try visioneering yourself [source] .
Imagine & Emotion.
Imagine yourself five years in the future. You’re approaching New Year’s Day 2023. Now describe the life you see in your mind’s eye, writing in the present tense. This is where I am personally and professionally. Here’s how my career, my health, my friendships and community service are making my life rewarding.
Write it all down…and then attach an emotion to each vision point. People do what they do because of emotions—and then justify their choices with logic. So the most effective visioning processes tap into emotions.
Now that you have a long-term vision you need a short-term plan—a one-year version, that will be your first step toward your five-year destination. What are the accomplishments you would need to see this year? Build in benchmarks and timelines you can put into your calendar.
By what date will each benchmark need to be achieved? What are the repeatable daily, weekly and monthly tasks that will lead you toward your goal? Make the actions specific and measurable. Then add in some accountability.
Roles & Epitaphs.
With the vision you’ve just described, divide your life into the various roles you occupy: professional, spouse, parent, friend, etc…and write your epitaph for each role. What do you want people to say about you when you’re gone in each of these departments?
What would be your most memorable qualities, values, and accomplishments? Write those down.
For each role, what are the one or two things you would need to do in order to make the epitaph you’ve created a reality? For example, let’s say that your career epitaph is “To consistently over deliver to my company and team as they advocate for quality of life for all seniors.”
Your one or two action steps might be, 1) to commit yourself to three specific measurable goals each month and, 2) to attend a continuing education seminar each quarter.
This year I will ship daily
My goal this year is to ship something every day, no matter how small. I will do work that matters and I will do it in public to help others do the same.
This might be publishing a blog post, a social outreach, or a segment in an email series. To help myself stay true to this vision I have created a few parameters to constrain what counts.
The rules are:
- The content must be public– whether on my blog, shared to social or an email list, or some other public forum. Talking about an offline exercise I do counts only if it is in some way captured and shared. This means if I write a new marketing plan for the quarter, I can count it if I share an image or blog about the process online.
- It has to be for my brand & project. It cannot be client work.
- What I share should be something I created. My own ideas or art. I cannot reshare someone else’s content and count it here.
- It should further my message and align with the goals and values I have set for my work.
To hold myself accountable I have created a spreadsheet where I will list what I ship each day and a link to see it. You are welcome to see it, and are invited to comment on what I ship and if I miss any days! You can see this spreadsheet here.
Because these are goals, not resolutions, it’s not over if you miss a day. It’s ok, just start again the next day like it never happened. This isn’t about perfection. It’s about building a habit and doing work that matters.