A new year always brings new resolutions and decisions. This year is not an exception. Every year I try my best to provide the best results for the people I serve, while aim at my goals. As a compulsory overachiever, I am, I try to make meet ends, while offer quality content and material to people needed the most.
This is the reason that currently I am in a phase of re-designing and re-engineering many things in my life. One of that thing is my site/blog (yes the one you, hopefully, reading right now).
Time is running, and while I try to keep up a “cool” pace (a more controllable, slower and laser focused direction towards the things matters most) there are times I left behind. That’s why I am always looking new approaches and ways to do things better, speedier and more efficient.
A Quick Overview of 2016
I live in Greece, in a country not only suffers a raging economic crisis, but also a country experienced large amounts of unemployment, business closures, and economic stagnation.
The things weren’t so great in 2016. This year brought a lot of personal and business problems (partly due to the economic situation) creating a lot of negativity and drawbacks.
Because of that, I decided to develop a new year plan that can guarantee a more effective approach towards my goals (and toward a more positive and prosperous life).
Now (early 2017) is exactly the time to check why the things are not gone as are planned and design a new plan for an amazing new year.
Basic Operation Principles for Re-design & Re-engineering
As I told you, presently, I am in the process of re-engineering many things in my life either to make them more effective or to make them able to succeed (as designed)!
To do that, I need first to respect my basic operation principles (BOPs) which are derived from my life’s vision, my goals and fortified by my experiences.
My BOPs are my main tool for doing what have to do and matter to me the most and laid down not as restrictions on my daily actions but as reminded of who I want to be, why, and how I would like to achieve it. You can consider them as the pillars upon which all my coordinated activities towards achieving my goals based.
In many ways, they are similar to the operating principles developed and respected by many great achievers and entrepreneurs (like the Dokkōdō of Miyamoto Musashi is, the Principles of Ray Dalio, or the General Operating Principles of Taylor Pearson). I believe everyone should develop one set of his/her own operating principles reflecting its internal beliefs and foundations of his/her actions.
Such BOPs which, at the moment, leading my “re-engineering process” are (among many others):
- I am accountable not only for my actions but for their results as well. So I am not to blame anyone but myself for the things not happened or omitted
- I keep a positive attitude and perspectives towards the most situations
- I listen carefully first before passing a judgment in any situation
- I focus on what’s important, have a meaning to me (and the others) and matters the most
- I provide the best means and resources to your family, loved ones, and friend (including my time, energy and myself)
- I develop & focus on win-win strategies and synergies in every situation I can
- I help whenever I can, expecting nothing in return
- I respect your boundaries and those of the other people trying to avoid any activities might cause you any “trouble”
- I aim at achieving maximum efficiency, flexibility, and productivity in every and all situation
- I select, design, and tweak all the best for me processes, tools, and services adjusting them to my lifestyle and workflow
- I aim to design strategies and approaches to make me and the people I serve victorious
Set up Your Main Areas Of Focus
First-thing-first though! To start developing a plan (any plan actually) you need to set up your primary areas of focus (AoF). It is impossible to be successful if you do not where to aim to or when you aim at many targets.
You need to develop “recipes” and strategies which will assure the best possible results at your areas of your life you want to be successful.
To define your main AoF you need to know yourself better though and that usually means a lot of reflection and conscious analysis. To become better you need to invest on yourself and on tools can help you understand better your wants and your why.
A process as that needs time, conscious effort, vigilance, intentional actions and the employment of right tools can help you understand better yourself. Such tools might be for instance the “Enneagram of Personality” which might help you to find more things about yourself and direct you to new venues (& ventures).
The end of this self-reflection and the accompanying procedure is the definition of your main AoFs.
For me the 4 main AoF, are:
- Self. Everything related to me, including personal growth and development, health & fitness, life-work equilibrium, etc.
- Family. All the subjects related to my family, my loved ones, my home, etc.
- Business. Everything relating to my business, my associates, my partners, my clients and making ends meet.
- Serving other people. Things and activities I do for serving the people I want to serve (on a pro bono basis most of the times)
Of course, there are much more, but you need first to cover the basics and after that to focus on other AoF.
Declutter Your Mind, Clean Your Workspace
When I start the planning process, I like to be alone (for this activity I had blocked out a time period), and, usually, I start with a pen and paper/notepad (I keep far too many notes, sketches, and drawings in various notebooks).
I allow myself to follow my “natural planning” tendency and follow an unstructured way of writing down goals, ways of approach, exit points/strategies, keywords, and triggers, methods of attack of specific problems need to be resolved, etc.
At the end of this process, I have several pages with what-ifs clause, “Be-Do-Have Principles, scattered references for wannabe projects, notes on resources, assets, things need to learn, etc.
The activity by far is a simple “dumping session” aiming at collecting all the major end points, milestones, “big rocks“, loose ends, things to be done, activities, projects, etc. It is a process can help you declutter your mind and put all the things you need to get done in one place (a trick I learn by GTD method.)
The “planning session” though, is far from complete. All these “loose notes” should be converted to projects, activities, SMART tasks and scheduled in the long run on a calendar (I prefer to use Google’s Calendars because providing transparency, visibility by anywhere and flexibility. All my other calendar sync with Google’s Calendars).
That means to proceed in the computer in order to organize all these in clusters, actionable chunks, projects, activities, etc.
I like to start afresh every year and that’s means to declutter my mind, as well as my workspace.
I am a “heavy” computer user, that most people referred to as a “power user”. I prefer to focus on the things I am good at or it can be done by me only and either delegate or outsource the other activities. Whenever I can, I try to automate whatever I can.
This basic distinction is what filters first the things should be done. The focus is to define the activities and the projects would be lead or implemented by mine, while I need to define all the other activities need different handling (like delegating, etc.)
The second process is to declutter my computer and most importantly my workspace. I like my computer’s desktop clear as possible with all the necessary files on it and nothing more. The same thing I like to do with my browser as well.
The decluttering process helps to accomplish more and support my efforts in achieving self-mastery and control of your immediate environment. Decluttering is a process essential to that end contributes the best to implement the “Six Dimensions of Psychological Well-Being”
My process for decluttering my computer usually has the following steps (not an exclusive list, just the main steps):
- Backup everything to an external disk (currently I use a Seagate Expansion 3TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0)
- Archive all the old projects and files and delete everything is not current
- Remove all applications, tools, and programs I don’t use anymore or I haven’t used for 6 months
- Remove out of my PC large media files (like video, tutorials, courses, music, audio files, photos, images, illustrations, etc.) and archive them to my external disk
- Clear my local mail client (I use locally Microsoft Outlook 2007 from the Microsoft Office 2007). This usually means first to backup Outlook folders (all the .pst files), to document all the customizations I had made and the settings I have used. After the backup, I clear up my mail folders (removing the old ones or the ones I won’t need anymore), my contacts, my tasks, my calendars, etc. in order to have all the information I’m going to use in place
- Clear my browser. I use Google’s Chrome and the first thing I do is to clear up the cache. Second I backup the bookmarks and delete everything is not current or in sync with my work while I organize in folders the rest. Third I remove the plugins I won’t use anymore and I organize the rest accordingly.
- Clear up and organize all my online folders (including Dropbox, Google Drive & Docs, Box, etc.)
- Clear up my physical desktop, keeping up just the necessary and archive all the rest in appropriate folders.
Develop Appropriate Triggers
One of the main procedures you need to implement when you are setting goals and develop plans is the design of the appropriate triggers can help you do whatever you have decided to do.
To expect anything to succeed you need first of all the proper mindset, the right incentives (mostly the why you doing something) and appropriate triggers to help you carry on the indented activities.
A major component in this formula is, of course, the incentives and the motivations which you will adopt to propel you towards your goals. But, as he can tell you anyone after a week’s diet, this is not enough. You might have the best incentives in the world or a really significant motivation for you, but still to fail in implementing whatever you are after.
Why’s that? Because we have to deal so many things, sometimes our best intentions fall behind under the pressure of the moment.
That’s why you need the right triggers. A trigger is (among other things):
anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions. (Dictionary.com: Trigger)
As researchers have shown, people are very good at handling an”if x then y” types of connection between a specific situation and the desired behavior for that situation. This works best for people have decided their goals, their why and their how for the situation at hand.
This can be an excellent foundation for the development of good habits can help you reach your objectives more effectively.
In that sense, the adoption and implementation of the correct triggers for a situation can be a desirable and intentional lateral activity for the fostering of a specific behavior for that situation.
And that, of course, is (or should be) an integral part of a good planning process.
Develop A Plan Customized To Your Personality & Activities
Having all these components in place now is the time to start creating an amazing plan for the new year.
To summarize, in order to develop your plan for the next year you will need your:
- Desired goals
- Activities to support the implementation of set goals
- Basic Operation Principles
- Main Areas of Focus
- Focused and decluttered mind (and workspace)
- Proper mindset, motivation, and triggers
When all these components are in place (and have been documented) you can start developing your plan and the strategies you going to use for implement this plan.
The goal setting procedure and the effective planning process should be work in tandem in order to provide the required outcomes.
A planning process would produce an effective plan when you have implemented the previous steps and using the proper, for you, strategies, approaches, and tools, that multiply your efforts and don’t derail you away from your goals.
To implement and carry out consequently a plan to bring you closer to your objectives, you should though pay attention to:
- Having SMART goals written in clarity, properly documented and taken intentionally
- Focusing on the important things of your life and business
- Monitoring, observing, respecting and (if the situation calls) altering your BOPs according to your changing operating environment and your personal condition
- Using an 80/20 formula (Pareto Principle) to filter out the action does not provide anymore the expected output.
- Maintaining a work-life balance
- Keeping on learning and growing
- Destining to serve the people you intend to serve and not everybody (remember: when you serve everybody, usually you serve nobody)
- Using Kaizen type activities can help you implement your goals on a continuous base
- Keeping a positive attitude and foster a growing mindset
- Prioritizing and compartmentalizing of activities in small, actionable and easily doable tasks.
- Developing strategies can provide win-win results and multiplying effects.
- Delegating, outsourcing and automating anything does not belong to your main AoF to focus on what’s matter to you
- Adopting, tweaking, hacking, bending to your needs every strategy, procedure, application or tool to serve your purposes.
These are some of the basic tips and strategies you should use when you want to construct an effective plan for the new year.
And of course remain open to the new trends and ready to change your basic planning when the conditions changed. A flexible plan is usually the best match for an effective, productive and prosperous new year.
Question: How do you plan for the next year? What’s you goal-setting procedure? You can leave a comment by clicking here.