In this last week before the close of 2022, if your inbox looks anything like mine it probably includes a number of emails that either challenge you to reflect on your accomplishments from 2022, and/or set goals for what you will accomplish in 2023. Both are worthy endeavors. I also think there is no one best approach for being reflective or planful — in spite of what the many emails promoting “proven systems” may promise. The possibilities are as varied as the personalities doing the reflecting/planning. And yet, there are a few core concepts to consider as you look to the year ahead:
- Reflection takes time. Please don’t block out 30 minutes for reflection and expect to make some profound discovery. Many leaders can’t even quiet their mind down in that amount of time, much less get to the point where they can access their deep inner wisdom. Take an afternoon — more if you can. Get out into nature, drive, and let your mind wander. Insight rarely appears on command. It works its way to the surface when we are quiet enough to allow our mind to make unique points of connection.
- No “shoulds” allowed. If you are really going to accomplish a big, hairy audacious goal, it has to be because you want to, not because someone else thinks you need to. Shoulds suck the energy out of any effort, and heap the guilt on to it, making them a double loss. Big goals take sustained energy . . . the kind that is internally generated . . . and that only happens when you are choosing to stretch for reasons that are authentic to you.
- Less is more. Yes, I know you are a high achiever who has accomplished a lot of things, but chances are that you were not doing five of them at once. Set fewer, more specific goals. When you have accomplished one (or at least are confident it has become an engrained habit), feel free to add another. At the very least, if you choose to ignore this advice and set too many goals, prioritize them and tackle them one at a time. You will feel better fully accomplishing one goal than you will by somewhat accomplishing five.
Then . . . write your goals down, or hold them in your mind. Review your progress weekly or quarterly . . . in private or with the input of friends and colleagues. Use someone’s system or develop your own. You know yourself best. Do what works for you. No apologies, no excuses. Regardless of what external variables impact your life in 2023 (and there are sure to be a lot), what you accomplish will largely be a result of your ability to reflect and set goals.
Want 2023 to be your best year yet? Start with one thoughtful goal and make it happen.