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End Of 2015! 5 Effective Ways To Wrap Up The Year And Set New Goals for 2016

End Of 2015! 5 Effective Ways To Wrap Up The Year And Set New Goals for 2016

For most people, the end of the year is the most unproductive time of the year. It’s an invited change of pace because you get to slow down; enjoying the holidays with family and friends.

While the importance of downtime cannot be overlooked, it’s also the best time to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. Unfortunately, many of us don’t take advantage of this unproductive time of the year, and that is a mistake.

Why? Because to reach your potential you must be certain that your choices are helping you. Otherwise, you run the risk of dragging around unfinished work and focusing on choices that are not helping you. As you already know unfinished work and misguided focus will only serve to drain your limited energy.

I know this issue all too well. I spent the better part of my entrepreneurial journey focusing on the wrong choices. In part because I never dedicated time to closing out my year, so I repeated the same poor habits from the previous year.

And this is where an Annual Review became my most important tool.

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This retrospective is a powerful tool that allows you to review what went well and what could have gone better this year. More importantly, the Annual Review provides insightful information that can be used to shape your goals for the next year.

I suggest that you be in a quiet place, with a pen, paper, calendar, and any other information that will help you reference the past year.

Answer the 5 Retrospective Questions

1. How did you do against your key goals? Here is how I would answer it:

  • Writing. This year was a good year for my writing. It’s now focused on leadership and personal development. Now while I did not meet this year’s production goals, I am happy that I am a contributor to the Huffington Post and Lifehack. I submitted a pitch to Entrepreneur Magazine so my fingers are crossed that I will be accepted as a contributing writer by the end of the year.

2. What things need to be improved? Here is how I would answer it:

  • Photography. This was a very bad year for my photography. I think I spent a total of two weeks on this personal project. I simply allowed other distractions to pull me away from my photography goals. For 2016, I need to fix this by spending more time making images. I need to set a production goal and schedule time to hang out with professional photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr.

3. What things were missing from this year as you look back? Here is how I would answer it:

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  • Family Time. I have spent too much time away from the boys and wife. My boys are young, and I can not miss these precious moments. I need to schedule more quality time with them. Since the boys have been born the wife and I have not had a date night, and that places a strain on our relationship. So for 2016, I am going to schedule a monthly date night with the wife.

4. What’s things are going well? Here is how I would answer it:

  • Writing. Since I have been focusing on writing about leadership and personal development, my writing has not only gotten better but I am becoming an authority on both subjects. I’ve been asked for advice by other entrepreneurs, and I have been able to improve my habits so I can get the results that I desire.

5. What are your three to five goals that you want to achieve for next year? Here is how I would answer it:

  • Writing. For 2016, I want to increase my writing production. I want to write 104 guest posts. I will pitch Success Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Forbes and the New Yorker. I also want to finish my eBook tentatively titled “A Blueprint to Becoming Highly Successful.”

Set Your New Goals for 2016

So you have answered the 5 questions — now what? Well, you now take those answers especially #5 and you begin to carve out your goals for 2016. I recommend creating 3 – 5 goals. The smaller number of goals respects the fact that you have limited energy, but that does not mean the goals can’t be big.

They should be out of your comfort zone. They should scare you. Otherwise, they are just another to-do list.

I am a fan of templates so this the template that I use when crafting my goals:

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Goal:
As a <type of user>, I am committing to <some goal> so that <some reason>.

Action:
To ensure that <some goal>, I am committing to <some habit>.

Here is my example:

Goal:
As a writer, I am committing to writing 104 guest posts on leadership so that can be viewed as an authority in the space and that will help me secure my goal of 20 corporate speaking gigs.

Action:
To ensure that I write 104 articles on leadership, I am committing to creating a production plan that will focus on leadership and becoming a contributing writer for the top 5 business magazines.

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So Yes, having written down the goal is only part of making the goal happen. You also need to commit to a repeated action that will help you achieve that goal; that is the secret sauce. And the more specific the goal and the action the more you are able to gauge the amount of energy required to achieve your goals.

Final Thoughts of the Year

Now I want you to run through these five questions. Keep in mind that you want to learn what you did well and what you didn’t do well. You then use that knowledge to begin crafting your goals for 2016.

The Annual Review is a powerful tool and when taken seriously it can help you create a better next year. I wish you much success.

Note: Thanks to Michael Hyatt, James Clear and Chris Guillebeau for inspiring me to write this Annual Review article.

Featured photo credit: unsplash/Olu Eletu via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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