As each New Year starts we set up the usual list of resolutions. How many of them last the distance? Cairo West Magazine stumbled upon this read-worthy piece compiled by Michael Hyatt, author, blogger, speaker, and the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Hyatt asked several high achievers what they do to set themselves up for a great year. As their responses came in, he was surprised by how much their answers overlapped. But then again, he really wasn’t that surprised. The overlaps function like best practices. He’s convinced these commonalities are part of what makes these people all high achievers in the first place.
- REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR
The first thing high achievers do to set themselves up for a great year is review the current one. “I set myself up for success in the New Year by pausing and reflecting,” John Maxwell, #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker told Hyatt. “I block the last week of the year and spend time reviewing my entire year’s calendar. I believe that evaluated reflection turns experience into insight. So, I evaluate what I did so that I gain insight for what I should be doing in the New Year.”
Businessman, author, philanthropist and motivational speaker Tony Robbins does the same thing. He told Hyatt that throughout the year he collects “accomplishments and magic moments” in a journal almost like saving up receipts for tax purposes. “At the end of the year I go and review them all,” he said. “I look at the area of our businesses, our relationships, finance, and family.” By reflecting on these magic moments, Tony is able to “pull some principles” and determine “what do we really want to make happen in the following year.”
- STAY POSITIVE
High achievers also work to stay positive as they lean into the New Year. Regret and negativity can kill our drive. Reviewing the “magic moments,” as Tony Robbins does, tells us that staying positive in this review process can help us move forward without losing momentum.
- EXPRESS GRATITUDE
The third thing high achievers do to set themselves up for a great year, one that came up in the answers several times, was to express gratitude. And this is especially helpful in staying positive.
Communication Strategist and Copywriter Ray Edwards said he starts preparing with “a gratitude flood.” How so? “In my journal I write down every good thing I can remember from the past year. In that state of total gratitude I ask, ‘What do I most want to be thankful for one year from now?’ I write the answer down, and it becomes a focus for the new year.”
Research tells us that gratitude has a measurable effect on achieving our goals so it would seem that counting our blessings is a good way to start a great year.
- ELIMINATE THE EXCESS
One thing that results from reflection is direction for the new year. Hyatt heard that from several high achievers. But he also heard that spending time to reflect can highlight the stuff we need to cut. And eliminating the excess is the fourth thing that high achievers do to set themselves up for a great year.
“I set myself up for a great year by ruthlessly eliminating the bottom 30 percent of activities, projects, and commitments from the previous year,” Ray Edwards told Hyatt. “By removing those from my calendar, I get space to focus on the activities with the biggest payoff.”
Bestselling author, speaker and coach Jeff Goins echoed the point. By killing the underperforming tasks and projects, he said, “It opens up all kinds of room for me to be more creative and innovative without running out of margin.”
- SET COMPELLING GOALS
This one came out in several of the answers in different ways, but the bottom line is that high achievers set goals that harness their emotional energy. “I set myself up to win by setting a clear vision for what I want to accomplish this coming year and why I want to accomplish it,” Lewis Howes, author, entrepreneur, and former professional football player, told Hyatt. The power is in that word why.
Tony Robbins’ review process is designed to access this emotional power. “It’s really a recapturing of the year, emotionally and psychologically,” he said. It’s about identifying “what we achieved and what we enjoyed and then laying out what we’re going to achieve and enjoy in the next year.” Notice the importance of enjoyment there.
Businessman, author, radio host, television personality, and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey told me something similar, “I have to intentionally stop and dream again. What can I work on next year that makes me smile? Then my mind automatically moves from the strategic to the tactical. In detail how can I organize my work and my life to do the things that cause that same smile?”
- BREAK IT DOWN
The sixth thing high achievers do is to take those compelling goals and chunk them down into manageable pieces.
Chris Ducker, bestselling author, podcaster and blogger, starts with a few big goals for the year, “usually no more than three.” He then writes them down and displays them in his office. But he doesn’t stop there. “I break them down into four quarterly goals — which are good-sized wins on their own, and then break those up into monthly goals,” he said. “This enables me to stay focused on the long-term goals, while at the same time enjoying being ‘in the moment’ of achieving my short-term, monthly goals. It’s a system that has worked for me for six years now!”
- SCHEDULE THE YEAR
Once they’ve set their goals and broken them into manageable pieces, the seventh thing high achievers do is schedule them. “What gets scheduled, gets done”, Hyatt often says. Beyond that, scheduling also protects your time. Here’s the reality: Everyone has an agenda. If you don’t declare yours by calendaring what’s what important to you, others will try to fit you into their agenda. “I block out calendar time for my most important outcomes vacations, fun and time off and major business and creative projects,” Marie Forleo told Hyatt. “Those ‘stakes in the ground’ ensure that what’s most important happens.”
Author and online entrepreneur Amy Porterfield explained her process in depth. “I buy a big dry-erase wall calendar and map out my entire year,” she said. “I include promotions, launches, and special content campaigns. Plus, I make a point to block out all vacation and days-off.”
- UNPLUG FOR A TIME
Several years ago Hyatt started taking a month-long sabbatical. To make it work, he has to plan it a year in advance, but it’s a crucial part of having a great year for himself. He heard this from other high achievers, especially as part of preparing for the year.
There’s a lot that goes into having your best year ever, and some things are different for us all. After all, we all have different talents, aspirations, and circumstances.
But these insights and disciplines from high achievers show us some of the best practices we can all follow to accomplish the things that matter most in each of our lives this coming year.
“Evaluated reflection turns experience into insight.” —JOHN MAXWELL
“What do I most want to be thankful for one year from now?” —RAY EDWARDS
“How can I organize my work and my life to do the things that cause that same smile?”
“Seeing the big picture in advance allows me to work with more purpose throughout the year.”