To paraphrase Frank Sinatra from My Way, the end is near; the end of 2006 that is. I am writing this a few weeks before Christmas just having begun my year-end planning process. This brings to mind New Year’s resolutions. It also brings to mind cookies, ham and gifts but that’s another column.
My guess is that you have made a few New Year’s resolutions over the years, am I right? We think of the holidays as a period of birth or rebirth with the New Year starting, and it seems the perfect time to make changes. We diligently look at where we should improve our lives and make lists of what we are going to do differently in the New Year. If you are like me and, if you stick with the resolutions until February, you are doing well.
So, why do we fail at keeping New Year’s resolutions? In my experience, both personal and working with clients, it’s because our resolutions are about “shoulds” (things we should change) not about things that truly mean something to us. They also tend to be negative in approach. An example is going on a diet to lose weight instead of changing our eating habits to live a healthier lifestyle. How do we succeed at resolutions then? We give them a twist of lime.
I hear it; the chorus is saying, “What is he talking about?” I’m simply talking about making changes in a different manner, instead of traditional resolutions. Create a year instead of making resolutions. I have a process that I work with my coach on and also have my clients do. You can use this process or create one that works better for you. The important thing is not how you create the year but the reflection, dreaming and thought that goes into the vision.
The first part of my process is to review the year that is ending. Look back over the last twelve months and make a couple of lists, the first list is all the great things that happened, your celebration list. The second list is of things that didn’t turn out as you had expected. This is your let go and forgive list. Once you have your lists create some way of celebrating the good and letting go of the less good. I write a celebration and closure document and share it with a few very close friends. You could have a glass of champagne to celebrate and burn the other list to let go. It is totally up to you, it’s whatever makes the feelings of joy and release real for you.
“…give the year ahead thought and don’t just try to fix your ‘shoulds’.”
Having acknowledged, celebrated and let go of the old year, it’s time to look toward the new. The place to start is with some questions to get the creative juices flowing. I use these questions in my year-end process and have my coaching clients use them too. What do you want to be celebrating at the end of 2007? What’s a stretch you are willing to commit to in the coming year? Let’s look at them individually.
What do you want to be celebrating at the end of 2007? Another way of looking at it is what your dreams are for the coming year; the things that would bring you happiness come December 2007. These don’t have to be huge things but they can be. It could be something as simple as a thriving flower box on your balcony or as big as a new job or business. Make a list of all the things that come to mind you want to be celebrating this time next year. Now ask yourself the follow-up question. What do you need to do to have these things happen? For each of the items on the celebration to be list, make a list of the things you need to do to make it happen. We’ll come back to these lists in a bit.
What’s a stretch you are willing to commit to in the coming year? You could also call this a big change, huge improvement or giant leap. It’s something that at first seems daunting, but when you do, it will make a huge difference in your life and give you a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. This should be something that takes growth to accomplish. It is not a cakewalk type of change; it’s a push yourself to new heights change. An example would be reducing your credit card debt by 25% to 50%, skydiving for the first time or coming out to your parents. Only you can judge what is a stretch and what is a big enough stretch.
Now, take the lists you just made plus your stretch and create a representation of the year you are creating in 2007. The representation could be a visual, audio or written representation. What form it takes will be different for different people. It’s whatever will give the year the most life for you. My representation is a written document that lays out in a somewhat narrative form what I will create in order to celebrate my dreams for the year. It also lists my theme for the year and my stretch. The theme is a word or phrase that brings your overall goal for the year into sharp, clear focus. For example my theme for 2007 is “Thrive Not Survive”.
The final piece to the year-end creation process is to share with trusted friends and family what you are up to in the New Year. Let people who can and will support your efforts know what you plan to create in your life in the coming year. It is an honour to be included in a process like this and the people you include will be touched that you think so highly of them. You can modify the process so it works best for you but the key is to give the year ahead thought and don’t just try to fix your “shoulds.”
Â© David Stocum, All Rights Reserved
David Stocum is a Life and Small Business Coach serving the GLBT community. His nationwide coaching practices focuses on empowering gay men to thrive in business, career and life. He may be contacted at email@example.com, www.MyGayCoach.com Great Lives Coaching, 2020 Sandhill Rd., Las Cruces, NM 88012 .