As we embark on yet another trip around the sun, we often become very reflective about what we accomplished over the last year… what we successfully completed, what degrees we were awarded, how much weight we lost (or gained), what awards we received. Next, we lament things that went unfinished. Then, as is the tradition, we shift our focus to our goals for the next year. However, many of us (me included) are over-ambitious in stating our goals for the upcoming year. We list too many things to accomplish and wind up disappointed or defeated when we don’t “check the box” on all of them by year’s end. My advice to ME in 2020 (and to you by default) is to get rid of my to-do list… My plan is to not prioritize my schedule but, instead, schedule my priorities. As Steven Covey advised in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Put first things first” (4th habit). Notice, he didn’t say “Make an exhaustive list of everything that you could possibly do!” That list has no end, and quite frankly, leads to more anxiety, frustration, and unfinished business.
So, how do I/WE get it done in 2020? In a word, “Intentionality”.
As we project our goals and priorities for 2020, here are a few questions and statements that I will use to stay on track to accomplishing focused goals that are actually important to me! In other words, here’s how I will stay intentional.
- First and foremost, in my 2020 prioritization is to ask myself, “By the end of 2020 who do you want to be?” Note, who I want to be may be similar but not synonymous with “what do I want to do/accomplish?” What I actually do is a product of who I want to be. Actions, activities, and tasks are byproducts of the journey, not the actual destination. If I receive accolades and awards, great… if not, great… recognition for good deeds and accomplishments are always appreciated but are not the goal. Transforming myself and others’ lives through good deeds and accomplishments is the actual goal.
- Once I have dreamt of who I want to be by the end of 2020, I must now ask myself what combination of long-term projects and daily actions must I engage in to fulfill this dream. Yes, these are the same tasks that I just reminded myself in question/statement #1 to not consider to be goals. Intentionality requires that I have very specific tasks, but to remember, “busy” doesn’t equate to “important”. These tasks must be priority items that are always pushing forward to who I want to be, not busy work to feel a temporary sense of accomplishment. If I want to have aspects of health, wealth, family, educational, or spiritual components, then my long-term and daily tasks will also have actions associated with those standards. These “tasks” may be a simple as reading the right books, spending time with the right mentors, or attending the right events, workshops, and seminars. The point is to align action with goals.
- As I look at the tasks in section 2, ask myself “Where am I playing it too safely?” My good friend Bill Treasurer speaks of living courageously. He often explains that growth is a result of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. This isn’t about thrill-seeking or danger, but in 2020 what areas of my life require that I make shifts in what I consider to be “safe” in order to expand my growth potential. This could be committing to engage in the tough conversations that I may have avoided in 2019 or shifting perspective (politically, socially, or economically) to get me closer to who I want to be at the end of 2020. Organic growth is absolutely important. However, intentional growth is absolutely necessary.
- Finally, to make space for moving forward, what must I leave behind in 2019? Everything that I needed to get me to this point in life isn’t necessarily what I will need to move to the next stage. What organizations, clubs, activities, mindsets, and unfortunately people, are no longer conducive to my personal progress and growth? This is not an easy decision. We do not like to part ways with things that are comfortable and familiar. But as we intentionally grow, it requires that we reflect and change. Simply put, everything that I used to do won’t make the cut in support of who I want to be.
So, there you have it; my plan for 2020. Simple? Only in concept. The journey to looking back at 2020 with a sense of accomplishment will be predicated on a continuous and agile acceptance of reflection, change, and adjustments. I wish all of you a blessed and prosperous new year on your own journey of enlightenment and personal growth.