Want to make this your best year? Here’s how I do it.

Originally posted in December, 2006.

It’s New Years. Time for resolutions? Or time for something different? What if this year you made ASPIRATIONS instead of RESOLUTIONS? What if you focused on things you want to DO and experience rather than a narrow set of problems?

For the last seven years, I’ve done just that.

I start each year with a big hairy question: “How can I make this the best year of my life?” Making each year better than the last is a tall order, but I’d say four of the past seven years have been my best. The first year I did this simply blew me away, it was so great!

My self-challenge usually includes resolution-y  things related to finance and weight. But the idea here though is to work on those goals as part of an overall yearly plan with related goals.

Step 1:  Review your life list to see what you want in life.

Come time to plan the year, it’s easy to rearrange and re-prioritize based on the year.

My list has such random things as:

  • Go surfing in Bali (DONE!)
  • Teach my niece to make cookies (DONE!)
  • Buy a rental property (DONE!)
  • Lose 20 pounds (ok, needs work)

Is your life list complete? If not, get inspiration as you go through your day, seeing what headlines, ads, observations or social media posts grab you.

Step 2: Start planning the year (It’s not as boring as it sounds.)

Some practical and fuzzy tips:

ducks in Bali

  • Generally, what are you in the mood to do based on your current life situation? Are you in a “mid life crisis” or ready to settle down? Are you feeling wanderlust? Fit this general feeling into your “2007 Theme” to guide you.
  • What will become impossible if you don’t do it now? For example one year I realized if I wanted to work on saving the rainforests now is the time, not in 10 years. And who knew that Mt. Etna would explode only a year after I spent a week on an agriturismo farm overlooking the great mount. Did you want to see James Brown in concert? It’s too late now. Think about what you want to do that you should not delay. (A Fodors list of 10 Places to See Before They’re Gone may be just the nudge you need.)
  • What will your goals take in terms of time, energy, and money? Don’t say no too quickly, such as if you want to take classes at night but feel you don’t have the time.

First think about what  you want to achieve and experience related to work, fun, community, spiritual, financial, relationships and health.

Now imagine your “resolution to lose 10 pounds” tied to a goal to run a marathon or go scuba diving. Or becoming a tango dance!

Come year end, you’ll have a lot more to look back on than a boring weight loss process.

Step 3: Take weekly or monthly reality checks

Yes time will fly and every day life administrivia may take over. Every once in a while I stop and ask myself two important questions:

    • “Is this my best year?”
    • “Am I feeling good about myself?”

I often do this at quiet moments such as in the shower, while stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting for someone at a restaurant.

If either answer is “no,” imagine how powerful it is to know it’s up to you to re-set your course toward making it your best year

Caveat: Resist thinking in terms of success or failure.

If you’re going to take the “best year” challenge, remember that things happen you can’t anticipate.

I won’t beat the proverbial dead horse and say that to remain happy you need to roll with life’s punches. Oops I guess I said it.

Well I’ve been there: at the end of one of my “best years” I got cancer. Of course this wasn’t on my life list. Even so I used my downtime to reconnect with friends, focus on spirituality, and learn about my body and health. Those are all things I’d been meaning to do.

Looking Ahead at Looking Back

Imagine it’s December 31, and you’ve realized the year hasn’t turn out how you planned. If you’ve reviewed your life list during the year, tried changing things to improve the year, and chronicled the year’s events on your SuperViva “things I’ve done” list, you’ll have a lot to look back on.

If you’re not happy with this year you can look forward to NEXT YEAR being your best and know that darn it, you tried!

How do you go about planning? Chime in here or on Facebook, and I’ll give you a free 15 minute coaching call to help you pursue your most audacious goal.

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