by Tony Richards
It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here and the Christmas season is already behind us. It’s been an annual ritual for me the last several years to take the week between Christmas and New Years and get serious about what I want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s something I look forward to annually.
Over these years, I’ve continually developed my process, adding some things and taking some things away. This year, I decided to publish 10 of the most thought-provoking questions I have on my list for annual planning.
Here are the 10, in no particular order:
Important Year-End Question #1: How will you narrow the gap between your leadership current ability and desired skill level?
This question simply is challenging you to develop a strategy you can use to close the gap between you are and where you want to be. In your planning, you need to take time to carefully craft the strategy which will take you there. It’s starts with brutal honesty, reflection on this past year, and real achievable results to reach for in the coming year. You might also get feedback from five trusted individuals on what you do well and also what you need improvement on. We use powerful assessment data with our clients to achieve this clarity.
Important Year-End Question #2: Will you wait for the next “big book” on leadership, or read (or reread) some of the classics?
Everyone who reads, typically have their favorites. There’s nothing wrong with going back and re-reading the material which fired you up or helped you in the past. There’s also nothing wrong with reading the latest guru or best-seller. If you need a list to choose from, here’s a link to our recommended book list in our Clear Vision U section of our website.
Important Year-End Question #3: Who will you bring into your life that you can seek counsel and good advice from in 2012?
This one is definately linked to question #1. Everyone needs honesty and feedback. The problem is, most people are really terrible about it. Fear of rejection or fear of losing a relationship many times prohibit us from giving real good feedback to help people grow. Everyone needs at least five people in their lives who will be honest and give good feedback. I call this your “warrior circle”. Good luck on finding those people. They are hard to genuinely find and they are priceless.
Important Year-End Question #4: What will you do to improve your health in 2012?
Personal disclosure: This is my biggie for 2012. What good is improving everything else if I don’t have the energy, health and stamina to reach my full potential?
Important Year-End Question #5: How will you cultivate your curiosity in the coming year? Curiosity keeps dreaming and dreamers active.
In all things moderation, right? There must be time for execution and there must be time for dreaming? We have to find ways to stimulate our curiosity and for every person it might be different. Some people dream better by getting away to a place which has lots of trees, some people like a lot of water, some people like cities others like seclusion. Using external stimulus like this can be powerful. When we were children, we created our own surroundings, didn’t we? As adults, we need extra help because we don’t practice our dreaming skills and curiosity abilities as much as we did as when we were kids.
Important Year-End Question #6: What are your specific/measureable goals for changing/improving your performance in 2012?
Our clients use the SMART system to drill down their goals to specific, measureable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. These are the tactical steps you will use to achieve the strategy you formulated in Question #1.
Important Year-End Question #7: In the coming year, how can you remove the non-essentials and simplify your leadership, career, business and life?
Consistently simplifying your life will keep you light and happy. The more you allow your life to take on complexity and complication, the more frustrated you will be. If you find yourself saying “it’s complicated” on a regular basis, it’s time to simplify. One example I think is great which comes to mind is, one of my clients consistently makes it a goal to give away at least 25 items from his house every year. They may come from the living area, attic, garage, etc. They constantly make room for new things in their life by removing clutter. This is an exercise you can do in other areas also. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Don’t put yourself in unbearable pain, maybe one or two things in each category. On the other hand, you know your pain tolerance level better than I, but a word to the wise, most people overestimate what they can actually do on these questions. It’s quality, not quantity that’s important. It’s results, not resolutions that is vital.
Important Year-End Question #8: How will you monitor and measure your success on the goals you are setting in 2012?
What system works the best? The system which works best for you. I use a journal to write in daily. It helps me to stay focused each day. I can log what happened the previous day, track my progress, write down my thoughts, make a list of what I’m thankful for and what I need to focus on that particular day and get “my mind right”. That’s what works for me. I’ve shared this with people before and they look at me and say “daily”? Find what works for you on a consistent basis.
Important year-End Question #9: Who will you help become better and how? (Good leaders lead well. The best leaders develop other good leaders.)
I like to think of this more on a professional basis rather than a personal one. There’s an old saying that iron sharpens iron. I want to be around people who are at the top of their game or they are trying to get there. That challenges me to get better and I can observe how those in my peer group are doing it also. My group is scattered across the world, so I would challenge you to really think this one through. Who is in your tribe and where are they? How can you connect with them? The other thing is to get into a formal coaching program or find a mentor.
Important Year-End Question #10: Will you consistently practice gratitude? (Make it a habit to say thank you.)
I mentioned how I do this, I make my list daily. It causes me to identify and focus. Spend some time thinking how this would work best for you. It really does pay you great dividends in peace through having no regrets.
I hope this list helps you and adds value to your year-end planning process. Here’s to a great and successful 2012!!