Christmas is coming up and hopefully you all will have some time to sit down, relax, review the past year and make some plans for 2012.
I know that “living without goals” seems to be state of the art nowadays, but if you are living an a goal-oriented business environment – like I am – where you cannot wake up and just do what you are passionate about, a system to manage yourself will be essential for your success. This is why I recommend to structure your ideas and to make some plans for 2012, now.
This year, I had the chance to do my review already before Christmas which gives me the opportunity to provide you with a step by step guide which I created while doing my planning for 2012.
By the way, the procedure itself is based on my experience in process and quality management in my professional life where we are doing this kind of process every year.
1. Review the last year to see where you are (Yearly Review):
First step is to review the previous year to check what you achieved and to create a starting position for planning the upcoming year.
To get started, check what you planned to achieve in 2011 for example by opening your target mind map. – If you don’t have something in written, we are going to create a mind map for 2012 while doing the next steps.
Now, simply review your 2011 targets and mark all achieved goals to see what you did. – Congratulations! Now breathe and smile!
2. Structure the big picture of your life (Strategic Planning):
Based on the insights of the review, this strategic planning step will support you to structure your ideas by creating a mind map summarizing the things you would like to realize within the next years.
To avoid that you miss something, I recommend starting with a new mind map to structure the big picture of your life. – To ease this step, you can download my SmartSelfManagement.com Compass (zip with xmind file inside, 49kb) as template for your mind map.
If you already have a list of goals (e.g., last year’s targets), check this list and add all open goals you would like to continue working on.
Now, relax and check all areas of your life to write down the things you would like to achieve within the next years (max. 5 to 10 years in the future). – This is the step where you add all your dreams to the mind map!
3. Plan the upcoming year (Tactical Planning):
The target of the tactical planning is to make your plans for the upcoming year more realistic by focusing on a smaller number of goals you would like to achieve and by transforming these goals into smart goals. This will help you to really achieve your goals in 2012.
First, review your “big picture” mind map and select a handful of goals to focus on in 2012. – Too much goals for one year might let you end up with nothing at the end of the year. Try to select only a few goals you really want to achieve in 2012. – Highlight these goals in red!
If necessary, break these goals down into smaller measures that have to be completed to achieve the overall target. E.g., if you have the dream to visit all continents within your life, select just one continent or one country for the upcoming year.
Now make your goals SMART! SMART is the abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound and it is often used in the context of project management.
Specific: Try to formulate specific goals and avoid being to general.
Measurable: Make your goal measureable. E.g., “Complete a 10k” instead of “Go jogging”.
Attainable: Make sure that your goal is realistic. Otherwise you will never be able to attain this target.
Relevant: Set goals that are relevant for your life.
Time-bound: State a date until when you want to accomplish the goal.
Please see wikipedia for detailed explanation of SMART criteria.
After transforming your goals into smart goals you can brainstorm the necessary steps to achieve these targets. Add these steps to your mind map. In addition, I recommend to add timeframes – when to work on these steps – to ease the operational planning.
4. Start to achieve your goals (Operational Planning):
The last step will transfer your plan into the operational task management system to start achieving your goals. – If you don’t have a system in place, you can read my post “Setting up task management”.
Simply identify all the initial steps (only one for each goal) that you have to work on within the next three months and add these to your to-do list.
In addition, you should add a repetitive task to your list to repeat the operational planning at the end of every month to identify the tasks for the upcoming month.
I guess, it will take about 60 to 90 minutes to perform these four steps, but it’s definitely worth doing it! So if you haven’t started yet, take your time and get started with step 1 right now! – If you don’t have a mind map tool on your computer, you can download XMind. It’s free.
If you are interested in a more detailed explanation (e.g., including Personal SWOT Analysis etc.), please subscribe to my blog to be informed about finalization of my smart Self-Management eBook coming out in 2012.