Planning for a successful new year can happen anytime as each day signals the beginning of another year. However, most people use late December and early January for reflection about the past year and for musing about the year to come.
Taking stock of the past year is useful. Looking back prepares the brain for looking forward. What went well? What was abandoned? Why? What no longer brings a sense of satisfaction? Are there bad habits to change? Are there new habits to embrace? What life lessons have been learned? What improvements will bring better outcomes in the future?
Looking back also provides an opportunity to enjoy what has been achieved. Oprah Winfrey famously said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate”. The point of achieving something is the pride and personal satisfaction of accomplishment. Too often we downplay what we have done without taking credit for success.
This time of year is ideal for review, assessment, celebration, and re-focusing. You can read my recent post about a year-end assessment here The Power of a Year-End Assessment
Reflection about how recent months have unfolded sets the stage for planning the year ahead.
Most people have stopped making New Year’s resolutions. They may continue to make plans for the next time period; they may set goals; they may have personal lifestyle aspirations. But, they don’t refer to such intentions as resolutions.
Some form of goal setting is worthwhile for a fulfilling and happy retirement. It’s easy to feel irrelevant without taking actions to move forward in life. Most of us are programmed to build something or do something. We want and need a purpose.
For many years after retirement, I resisted goal setting because it brought back memories of business plans and corporate goal setting. I did not want to quantify retirement outcomes nor set metrics for achievement assessments. As I’ve settled into retirement, I realize that it’s easy to fall into a comfort zone and settle for the status quo. I need to keep growing in many areas of life and the only way to do that is by challenging myself with personal goals.
Fear of Failure
People often resist goal setting and resolutions because of the fear of failure. Ticking off accomplishments on a list of goals is more reinforcing than looking at shortcomings. When past efforts yield mixed results, it’s tempting to dismiss goal-setting rather than admit that failure results in negative feelings. Self-judgement can be overwhelming.
Failure to achieve goals may lead to other areas of success. Some goals become irrelevant because circumstances and ideas change. There is power in letting go of unrealistic goals or goals that aren’t right as your life changes. The changes may reflect growth and clarity about what is most important.
Choose a ‘word of the year’
Sometimes deciding on a ‘word of the year’ provides focus and guidance for big and small decisions during the year. Remembering a single word is easier than remembering a long list of goals and aspirations. Deciding on a word of the year may be trendy — but it works!
Having a word to live by creates awareness of changes you can make with daily choices for spending time, resources and energy on what matters most. After all, choices we make in the short term can affect long-term success.
For the past few years, I’ve chosen words or short mantras as guides for how I live each day. Some of my choices in the past few years include words like patience, cheerfulness, finishing, purpose, enough, rule-of-2. Each had a specific meaning for my life at the time.
Success and Satisfaction
It helps to look at successful resolutions and think about what created the success. Progress on goal achievement is easier if it involves taking steps toward something positive rather than steps away from something that no longer works.
Experts recommend setting a small number of specific goals coupled with strategies for taking action. Grouping by category keeps my goal list relevant to my priorities. For example, I have goals for writing and hobbies, goals for health and fitness, goals for relationships, and goals for social involvement.
To stay on track, I look at my progress at the beginning of each new season of the year. I also make adjustments as life priorities change.
One of the benefits of growing older is that a level of contentment and satisfaction with life’s circumstances develops. It’s easy to forget that happiness comes from challenges, new experiences, and a sense of purpose for every day.
Finally, I close this post with a thank you to readers of postworksavvy. I appreciate your support through emails and comments on my blog posts. Whether you toast the entry of a New Year with glitz and glamour or by spending a quiet evening, my wish is that every reader plans a successful year of health, happiness and fulfillment.