We are now a couple of weeks into 2013—have you set yourself up for success this year?

In preparation for the new year, I recently posted the article “How to Reflect on 2012 and Set Yourself Up For Success in 2013

I had a number of emails from people that actually did the exercise and all of them made mention of the huge insights and benefits they got from doing so. One comment on LifeHack summarises exactly why I suggest you do the exercise:

“I just did this today and it was amazing. I went outside to a park with a beautiful view of San Francisco and wrote everything down on my iPad. I felt so thankful, happy, and inspired afterwards. It gave me great insight into how I want to approach 2013. Thanks for this post!”

best year of your life

Reflection is the first step of understanding where you are. Before setting goals and planning the year, it’s important to look back over what you have done well, what challenges you faced, how did you overcome them, what relationships you developed and more. The best part of reflection is that it helps you to learn and develop from your experiences—something you most definitely want to do to set yourself up for success in 2013.

I’m going to assume you have already read the article on how to reflect on 2012, so you can now progress to setting your goals for this year.

Ready? Let’s do it!

1. Preparation

Find yourself a peaceful and quiet area where you will have no distractions: perhaps head outdoors to a local park or to the beach. Even better, go to a place that inspires you and find a nice, comfortable spot  to sit.

Take a notepad and pen with you, or if you’re “with the times”, take your iPad or other digital device for writing on. Also, don’t forget to take along the notes that you took when you did the reflection exercise.

Spend 10 minutes reading over the notes you took from that previous exercise, which will help you to get back into the state of deep-thought and inner being. You might even find there are additional thoughts that come to mind—that’s fine, simply include them on your reflection sheet.

2. Describe Your Ideal Life

That’s right, we’re not getting into goal-setting just yet. First, you need to gain clarity around the longer-term.

Describe what your ideal life looks like. Perhaps that is 5 years from now, perhaps it’s 10 years or even 20 years. Be realistic with what you think is possible, and think deeply about what you would absolutely love to be doing. You can use the questions below as thought prompters.

What are you doing?

Who are you with?

Where are you?

Where do you live?

How do you spend your day?

What income are you earning?

What’s generating your income?

It’s important to gain clarity around where you want to get to in the longer-term before setting specific goals for the year, as you want your goals to be aligned to and help you progress towards your ideal life.

Take as long as you need to do this exercise.

3. Set Your Goals

Here is where we get specific.

Using the inputs of the ideal life and reflection exercises, start thinking about what can be achieved realistically in 2013. Write SMART goals that you can achieve this year. To recap on SMART:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound

Set yourself stretching targets. Psychologists have proven that incorporating the above elements from SMART into your goals and also making them “stretching” is the most effective way of ensuring motivation, drive, commitment, performance and ultimate success. Just remember that they also need to be realistic and achievable, otherwise you will demotivate yourself.

Your goals should be aligned to your ideal life—if they’re not, ask yourself why you are even considering putting it down on paper and committing to it.

Next Steps

You know where you want to go and you’re set up for success this year!

You’re now ready to take action. You should have a clear understanding of where you are now and where you want to get to longer-term, as well as specific and measurable goals that can create amazing change in your life this year. Change and progress happens one step at a time.

The most important thing is that you actually take that first step. Momentum is a beautiful thing: once you start taking a few baby steps, you will learn to walk, and once you’re walking properly ,you’ll learn how to run. Your habits will be defined, and they will start to create success for you.

I’m looking forward to sharing this amazing year with you. Here’s to making 2013 the best year of your life!

Featured photo credit: lonely man walking via Shutterstock

 

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