The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I love to cook, spend time with family and friends, watch holiday shows and listen to holiday music. I even love the mall at Christmastime. All of it gets me in the spirit of the season and focuses me on what’s important in life. It allows me to reflect on the past year, take stock and take a glimpse into the future of what the next year could bring. This blog is going to be a little window into the process I go through every year. I hope it helps you appreciate the good that happened in 2016 and helps you make 2017 your best year yet.
Step 1: What Am I Grateful for?
I am always grateful for the love of my family and friends, but there were a few extras that I am especially thankful for.
- Coaching – Time management was a challenge for me in 2016. There were moments where I was getting pulled in too many directions. But I’m glad I was asked to coach my daughter Ellen’s basketball team and even happier that my wife Erin is my assistant. It’s been a lot of fun and has allowed me to connect with Ellen and Erin in a different way.
- Health of my friends – Too many friends and clients had to deal with terrible illnesses and surgeries. I’m so thankful that they are still with us and we can celebrate the holidays together. (For related reading, see: Planning for Healthcare Costs in Retirement.)
What things are you thankful for from 2016? Write them down.
Step 2: What Did I Learn?
After starting out on the positive, I like to think about the major takeaways from the year and how I can use them to be a better, more productive me in 2017.
- Process is my friend – sticking to and continually refining my processes both at work and at home
- Be a better listener
- Don’t assume that someone understands what you are talking about.
What did you learn in 2016? Write them down. (For related reading, see: Financial Planning Tips for Parents and Their Kids.)
Step 3: What Are My Big Three Words to Define 2017?
This is something new that I got from Steve Sanduski’s podcast and have incorporated it into my year-end/new-year process. The concept is to pick three words that will define your actions and mindset for the new near. I will keep these words in view both in my office and at home as a constant reminder. My words for 2017 are grow, hire, and health.
What are your three words? Write them down.
Step 4: What Are My Two or Three Wildly Important Goals for 2017?
In years past, I would have at least 15 goals per year divided up into business, personal, and professional categories. As a result, my focus was too spread out and every year I felt dissatisfied with my results. This year, based on the book "Four Disciplines of Execution," I plan to narrow those goals down to two or three that will have the greatest impact on my year. The goals have to be specific and measurable in nature.
- To reduce my body fat percentage to 12%
- To grow my firm's revenue by 25%
What are your most important goals for 2017? Write them down.
Step 5: What Are the Activities and Actions Needed to Achieve Step 4?
Now that you have those wildly important goals, how do you achieve them? What are the steps and daily activities that you must do to accomplish those goals? To use my body-fat percentage goal as an example, here are the questions I would have to answer.
- How many times per week do I need to work out?
- What type of workouts do I need? When do I need to work out?
- What type of foods should I eat? What is the macronutrient breakdown? How often will I eat?
- How many days per week am I allowed to cheat?
What are the questions you need to answer? Write them down.
Once those questions are answered, put together your monthly, weekly and daily game plan for success.
- I need to move every day. I need to walk for 20 minutes every day.
- I need to lift heavy weights two times per week and doe a sprint/ballistics workout two times per week.
- I will eat a 30-10-60 ratio of protein, carbs, and fats daily.
- I will eat within an eight-hour window every day.
- I will have a cheat day every other Sunday.
What are the daily, weekly and monthly activities you need to complete to achieve your goals? Write them down.
Step 6: Monitor and Track the Activity (Step 5), Not the Goal Itself
Now that I have my action plan I need to track the action plan to hold myself accountable. The goal is a lagging indicator but my activity is a leading indicator. If I don’t do the leading activity, I will never get to the lagging goal. So the last step is to track your activity. I use technology (MyFitnessPal and Way of Life apps), a workout log and a simple checklist. Did I walk daily? Did I work out four times this week? By focusing on the steps to a successful goal completion, it helps me stay focused throughout the year. This is especially important when life can get in the way. When I focus on the goal and not the activity, I tend to put the work off until tomorrow, which decreases the likelihood I will achieve my desired goal.
How will you track your activity? What methods will you use? Write it down and set them up. So that is a little insight into how I wrap up the year and how I look forward. It’s never too late to get started.
Milestone Wealth Advisors, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.