This year be S.M.A.R.T and plan ahead…

Before you know it, 2013 will begin. But before 2012 becomes a memory, why not evaluate where you have been and where you would like to go so that when January 1, 2013 arrives, you will be prepared with a clear plan in mind.

More often than not New Year’s Eve events are full of more celebratory moments than reflective ones. So I have learned to start the entire year-end process beginning in mid-December. I spend time during this month thinking about the year as a whole and what changes I have made to my character because of the things I have experienced. I also begin to turn over ideas of things that I would like to accomplish in 2013.

While most are involved in last minute hustle and bustle of gift buying and wrapping, on Christmas Eve night, I will start a fire in my fireplace, and get a very comfortable seat. ChristmasArmed with my list of goals and plans from this year and a new journal/planner for 2013, the work begins of planning for a purposeful new year. There are many strategies and approaches to do this, but this is the way that has worked best for me.

1. Congratulate yourself for what was accomplished in 2012. Think about everything that happened over the year (going through your planner or calendar on your phone will help you remember). If it was a memorable moment to you, challenged your paradigm or represents a once thought ‘impossible goal” document that in the back of your 2012 journal. Also include any lessons learned and what you learned about yourself. This year, I was honored as a Michigan Chronicle Woman of Excellence. The things I learned during that experience were priceless, surely a highlight of the year.

2. Develop the new goal list. What changes do you plan to make in the New Year? What new skills do you hope to learn? What places do you hope to visit? What projects need to be completed? Perhaps you can choose 3-5 general areas in your life you want to improve (i.e health, relationships, finances, education, organization, exposure etc..) and then define the goals you want to achieve within these areas.

3. Be precise. The S.M.A.R.T goals system is a GREAT method for goal setting– (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). Why is this imperative? When you clarify what you want to accomplish, what it will look like when completed and the process as to how you will attain it, you designing a guide of how and within what time frame the change should occur if you are on task. In short, accountability. If people have no measurable goals in place, it is usually because they want NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

4. Create a plan (think small steps). In keeping with the SMART goal approach, break down the various elements that need to be completed in order for your goal to materialize. Pull out your planner and set up daily, weekly, monthly goals based on whatSmart is necessary. Set up recurring reminders on your phone. Example for 2010 I wanted to make a conscious effort to pray for my daughter about school every day. I pray for my family regularly but I wanted to specifically target school for her. So I set up a recurring reminder on my cell to go off while I am driving to work. When it rings it is a reminder to pray for her. It was a small step, but now even two years later, it’s a habit. I automatically set my phone up at the beginning of the school year and even note her teachers’ names, classes etc. in the reminder so I can include it as well.

5. What’s your motivation . . . What is your-Why? Once you have made a list of the goals/projects you want to achieve in 2013, ask yourself WHY you want to pursue them. What is your motivation and what do you believe the goal will bring into your life? Is it for self-improvement, self-fulfillment or is it for someone else? Setting goals with someone else in mind isn’t always a negative thing. My “why” for my business building has very little to do with me. I am building it for my children and my grandchildren. When times get tough and you don’t feel like studying or exercising or reviewing the accounts payables again..your “why” can give you the push you need to continue.

December is a month of festivities, love, family, giving, activities, big surprises and the perfect month to begin to dream beyond what you can see. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to plan your future. Start today and come New Year’s Day 2013 be ready to implement the strategy that will catapult you into your next level.