“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” Earl Nightingale
A great deal of attention is paid this time of year to the notion of the “New Year’s Resolution.” Some take the stance that it’s a useless exercise, abandoned in short order. Mark Twain captured this sentiment well when he said,
“New Year’s Day – now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
Resolutions that are hastily conceived can dissipate all too quickly. But I believe the pendulum has swung too far and perhaps the baby has been thrown out with the bath water.
A resolution may lack sufficient authority to incite change, but there is certainly power in a well thought out plan with purpose. Winston Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” Dwight D. Eisenhower held a similar opinion, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
Rather than choosing a New Year’s Resolution, I would suggest you consider a robust planning process instead. The value is in the process itself, beyond whatever stated goals emerge from the planning. With a plan and a road map and some courage, you just might design and live the life you imagined.
I commit the entire month of January to my annual planning process, my January Journey. I’ve found allotting a full month allows me to put down my ideas, ruminate on them, and really consider whether I’m committed to the actions required to bring those goals to fruition.
I find I’m far more committed to taking action to achieve goals I’ve been considering for a month because I’ve had enough time to understand the benefits I will experience if I accomplish my goals. By the time February rolls around, I’m ready and excited to begin the necessary work to put my plans into action.
My January Journey includes the following:
- Books I want to read throughout the year
- Places I want to go
- Includes at least one place I’ve never been
- Things I want to do
- Includes at least one activity I’ve never done
- A list of the people I want to visit/spend time with, invest in the relationship
- Includes a list of people I don’t know but would like to meet
- Relationship goals with my wife, kids, family and friends
- Financial goals, including savings targets, investment strategies and giving goals
- My “Word” of the year. Several years ago my good friend Nick shared his practice of choosing a word for the year on which to focus. I adopted the practice and found it to be very useful in helping me focus on a particular area where I wanted grow. Nick has shared his practice with people over the years and now hundreds of people join him. He notes the word each person selects and goes the extra mile by writing notes of encouragement to people during the year, incorporating messages and quotes that include the individual’s word. It’s a great way to build community.
Regardless of your stance on the value of the New Year’s Resolution, I encourage you to take your own January Journey and consider taking the month to design the life you want. I will write again towards the end of the month with some of the specifics I decided on for the year.
Wishing you great things in 2018. May it be a year you experience life to the fullest.