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How do you prepare for the new year?
I’m not talking about pulling the Moët out of the ice bucket and putting on your gown or tuxedo. Nor am I talking about pulling the Moët out of the ice bucket and trying to stay awake just long enough to watch the ball drop in Times Square.
No, what I’m talking about is what you do to get ready for what you’re going to do over the next 52 weeks.
Is the new year an occasion you look forward to in order to look forward? To think about what you want to accomplish and picture the things you’re going to do to get what you want in the new year?
Do you create plans, establish benchmarks, and consider how you’re going to memorialize and evaluate your metrics across the next twelve months?
Or – is it just another day, another week, another month, another year?
I used to believe it was the latter.
For me, after the New Year’s party was over, January First or Second were just two more days out of the year – as were all the days that followed in lockstep. I didn’t give any of it much thought after I decided what party I was going to and what I was going to wear.
But that’s before I met two women who independently changed how I look at the calendar.
Susan Ford Collins was the first. In her book, The Joy of Success, Susan talked about her three components of success:
- Completion, and
Before I read Susan’s book, I was already pretty focused on points one and two – Creation and Completion. But it hadn’t dawned on me that Deletion was also a primary component. After all, I was a “if at first you don’t succeed…” kind of guy. Deletion was for quitters.
But after reading Susan’s book and working with her, I realized that it was just as important to excise the things from my life that weren’t serving me as it was to focus on the things that were. And the end of the year just seemed to be the perfect time to do that.
So those pile of books, magazines, and papers that I kept “meaning” to get to? Out they go – if I haven’t read them yet, I’m not going to.
Those sales prospects who hadn’t responded to my personal and thoughtful cards, letters, and mailers? Time for a quick Happy New Year note with a promise that if they wanted me, they’d know where to find me.
At the end of the year, I became a whirling dervish, emptying drawers, shelves and computer files and filling trash cans (both actual and digital) with the things I finally accepted I simply wasn’t going to complete.
Corporate coach and advisor Karen Hirschfeld taught me something different by giving me a simple questionnaire to fill out at the end of each year. Her questions were all about what happened in the old year and what I wanted to happen in the upcoming one.
Answering Karen’s questionnaire helped me focus on what I had accomplished and what I had deleted. They also helped me set goals and measurable benchmarks for what I wanted to accomplish in the new year. And now, having almost 20 years of those questionnaires to look back over gives me a good overview of where I was, where I went, and how I wound up where I am today.
Karen has generously given me permission to share her questions with my Strategic Roundtables and I’ve been watching how well the questionnaire has helped others, too.
The point of all this is that preparing for the upcoming new year gives us all an opportunity to look back over where we’ve been and what we’ve done while we also look forward to where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
Throughout it all, I wish you a very happy, healthy, and rewarding 2023.