Archives for December 2013

Endings and Beginnings – Successfully Transitioning into 2014

2013-2014-blue-Fotolia_572147331As each year draws to a close, I like to reflect, and I ask my clients to do the same. Year-end is a great time to look both backward at the year that is closing out and ahead at the year to come. This brings closure and also allows for learning to come from the experiences the year has brought.

The challenge, I find, is that it is an incredibly busy time of year, so unless I consciously stop to engage in this process, it will not happen. So, the first step is setting aside some uninterrupted time to think. Ha! – you may be saying to yourself. That is nearly impossible! Believe me, I understand the challenge of the task and simply encourage you to make a concerted effort to find a few minutes. Even if all you have is 15 or 20 minutes, you can use that time to begin thinking and reflecting.

Once you’ve set aside the time, begin by thinking back on 2013, the year that is ending. What has it been like for you? What were the high points – the successes, accomplishments and bright spots? You will likely be surprised at all you have accomplished during the course of the year. Focus on how the year met your hopes and where it exceeded your wildest dreams.

Now turn your attention to the low points – the disappointments and failures. Although less pleasant, it is equally important to look at where the year did not measure up to your expectations in order to grow from those experiences as well.

I like to write all of this down because it is much more vivid and real to me if I do. I suggest you do the same. I also find that it can be hard for me to remember all the way back to January so I use my calendar to trigger my memory.

Once you have catalogued the ups and downs of the year, you can consider what you have learned in the process of those experiences. What lessons can you take forward? How can those experiences make you stronger and help you grow in the coming year?

With those pieces of wisdom in mind, you can now turn your attention to the year to come. 2014 will be here before we know it! What do you want from the year? What do you want the year to be like? If you were talking to someone in December of 2014, what would you like to be saying to them about the year?

I choose a theme for each year. A theme is a word or phrase that captures the essence of the way I want to experience the coming year or the quality I want to bring to my experiences during the year. There is no right or wrong way to choose a theme for the year. Some people like to make collages or listen to music and find that a theme naturally emerges. Some will find the theme hidden among their learnings from the previous year. Still others will play with various words and phrases to simply see which one resonates for them.

Once you have a theme, you are ready to enter the new year and begin planning in earnest. I find that having a theme allows goals to begin to organically emerge. It is said that failing to plan is planning to fail, and I agree. Planning and setting goals are critical components to ensuring success. My colleague, Dan Sheedy, set and achieved a huge goal this year and writes about it in his blog post entitled The 3000 Mile SMART(P) Goal.

Congratulations on 2013! Take the time to celebrate all that you have accomplished and worked through in the course of the year. Also, as you set your theme for 2014, let us know what you have chosen. Themes are most powerful when shared, and we’d love to help you bring yours to life!

The 3000 Mile SMART(P) Goal

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.4186679237_4b0b96b573_o

We’ve all set goals, or set out to set them, or just set on them. Just that short sentence shows us how easy it is to “set” a goal and then discard it because no one is looking, we got distracted or we came up with a new goal or path to follow. So how do we set a goal for ourselves then honor that commitment? There are many leadership books and goal setting articles out there that do a great job in outlining how this can be done. Pick one and set a goal!

I want to share with you a goal I set for myself this year and the little “steps” I took in achieving it. You may find it helpful as you set out your goals in the coming year. First, the goal! I decided on January 1, 2013 that I was going to run 3,000 miles this year. As a long time distance runner this seemed to be a solid challenge. Think of it as 8.2 miles every day of the year without missing a day. Sounded reasonable to me, but how in fact do you actually put in place the process to make it happen, a goal that could take a year to complete and not lose focus along the way?

I used the SMART(P) process to make this happen.

1) Specific- you must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as specific terms as you can make it. I said my goal is to Run 3,000 miles in 2013. Very specific without getting into the detail of how I am going to do it, but a goal that I can wake us and say to myself every day.

2) Measurable- the old adage is “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and with this goal measurement was quite easy. You have a Garmin GPS (or choose your own tool) and you know every day how far you’ve gone. Then every week and every month. This allows you to measure progress and adjust expectations along the way.

3) Actionable- every goal should start with an action verb (run, finish, complete, start) rather than a to-be verb (am, be, have). Here I was able to break out every month, week and day into exactly what I needed to do stay on pace. I used 10k, ½ Marathon, 25k and Marathon races along the way to break up the grind of the days and to give myself little wins along the way.

4) Realistic- this is where you have to be careful. It is great to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone but remember to add a dose of common sense. This part has always been difficult for me. My tendency is to add to many miles and I have done it many times at the expense of my body. This time I used the series of races to help me maintain focus and not do to many miles and get hurt. I also decided I would set personal records in each of the distance. (a definite step out of the comfort zone).

5) Time- time bound is important for a goal. In this case I did this in the beginning with December 31, 2013 being the last day I could accomplish the goal. Remember, a goal without a date is just a dream.

6) Persistence- This is the ingredient I feel determines if goals are accomplished. What is that “it thing” in your head and heart that drives you to finish, to accomplish the goal in the face of any obstacles that may arise. For me it was persistence through heat, wind, rain, cold, aches and of course schedule, work, travel, etc. to honor a promise to myself.

On Friday December 13, 2013 I crossed the 3,000 mile mark. 18 days to spare and personal records in four different distance races. (yes, I continue to run and the finish should be around 3,150 miles) Mission accomplished and a Boston Marathon in my future that I can use to create a whole new set of goals that allow me the opportunity to compete and live a healthy life. What are your goals for 2014? Do you have a process for attaining them? You do, just write them down and be SMART and persistent in your pursuit.