As 2020 comes to a close, it will be quite a year to remember. It’s time to focus on ourselves and self-renew to build our strength for the coming year. There is a Stephen Covey habit from his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is habit #7 on self-renewal called “Sharpen the Saw.” Regularly “sharpening the saw” means having a balanced life that includes four areas: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional.
Let’s focus on the mental aspect of self-renewal. As we begin our planning for 2021, Covey’s second habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” is a good place to start. Many people think of a new year as a promise of a fresh start, to do things a bit differently, and create some new goals.
To begin, take a moment to acknowledge all you’ve accomplished during 2020 and what you’ve learned from the past. Reflect on your career, relationships, health, finances, and creative pursuits. Make a list of all of your wins, successes, and breakthroughs. Remember that 2020 was a year full of challenges and that just doing tasks like shopping or working remotely added additional stress to our life. Then write down all of your losses, disappointment, and breakdowns.
It’s important to “close out” the current year. Regardless of whether or not the items on the list were a win or less than desirable, you’ll need to be complete with past accomplishments and disappointments in order to be open to new opportunities in 2021.
Next, choose five to seven lessons learned from the past year that you would like to remember and carry into the coming year. Now it’s time to shift focus and create new goals. Start by imagining ahead to December 2021. Create a list of your wins, successes, and breakthroughs for the year. Be very specific and write them as though they have already happened.
Focus on all areas of your life. Currently there are a lot of factors beyond our control, such as shutdowns and restrictions on social gatherings. Place your attention on what you do have control over and make self-care a priority.
One way to clarify your thoughts is to use the S.M.A.R.T goals approach to help you achieve what you want in your life. This system will help you focus your efforts and use your time wisely. Don’t forget to review your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and focus on your most important goals first.
And ask yourself this question: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This is the question Gary Keller addresses in his book, “The One Thing.”
By focusing on the “one thing” for the week, month or quarter, you’re more likely to accomplish your goals. Keep yourself accountable by finding an “accountable buddy” or building time in your day to review your goals. Not only will this keep you on track, 2021 may be your best year yet!