As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of the next, many people will begin their annual “ritual” of writing “New Year Resolutions.” One word of advice for anyone reading this that plans on writing resolutions: Don’t! Many studies show that a little less than half of American’s write resolutions- ranging from losing weight, to quitting smoking, to spending, more time with family. Less than 10 % of those who commit to resolutions accomplish them. Instead of the short-term approach of writing resolutions intended to bring dramatic change, develop a long-term vision of your ideal state of fulfillment three, five or event ten years from now, then set goals to help you get there.
Peter Drucker- considered “the father” of modern management- said, “when the history of our time is written...it is likely the most important event those historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time, substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it. (Leader to Leader Journal, Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker, Spring 2000)
Although Drucker wrote that quote seventeen years ago, it holds as much truth today as when he first wrote it. We can no longer rely on past paradigms or follow common customs to attain success.
A high school diploma, college degree, and graduate or professional degree are proven to increase individual income and professional success. Even they alone cannot be relied upon to predict our professional success. More than ever individuals will have to learn to develop their personal leadership skills and make decisions to shape their destiny. One of the most significant practices to determine your desired outcome and ensure success is setting goals. Goals are simply dreams with deadlines.
Here are some action steps you can begin as you prepare for the next year and beyond:
1) Write your personal mission statement.
A written statement, ideally one sentence, describes who you want to be and what you want to do. It is the beginning of creating your legacy (the impact you make and what people will remember about you when you are no longer on this earth). Being conscious of your mission is much deeper than pursuing a goal. It goes to the core of what you want to achieve in life and the unique gifts that you can contribute.
2) Establish a vision for your life
Ask yourself the question, “Where do I want to be five years from now? Ten years from now?” Where do you live? Where will you be working? How do you spend your days? How are your relationships?
Not having a personal vision is like getting in a car and traveling with no idea of a particular destination. Many studies show that one of the traits of individuals who achieve great success is the ability to focus on the present but still have a long-term vision for the future.
3) Be intentional about the things that you value. Sustained fulfillment will not happen unless you intentionally give adequate time and priority to your core values.
A) Spiritual - How do I acknowledge and relate to a higher power? What is my ultimate concern? B) Individual - Who am I? What are my unique gifts? What is my destination? Do I have self-respect? Do I feel competent and have self-confidence? C) Relational - How do I interact and connect with others? Do I feel valued and respected by others? Do I feel loved? D) Vocational - What will I do with my life? What is my calling/purpose? What is my contribution to this world? What will be my legacy? E) Financial - Do I have sufficient income to meet my expenses? F) Physical - Is my body functioning properly? Am I in and striving towards optimal health, well-being, and energy (adequate diet, exercise, clothing, and shelter)? G) Recreational - How do I enjoy life? How do I add variety? How do I break the “routine”? What are my passions? How do I have fun?
The commitment you make to these areas is an indicator of how much you value them. Values demonstrate the importance and worth that we give to something. They also show a person’s principals and standards of behavior. Hence, commitment means dedicating real thought and energy, not just articulating words.
4) Lastly, write goals that are SMART- an acronym you have likely heard before. Using the criteria to ensure that goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Timeframe will help you achieve your goals.
If you focus on your mission, vision, and values and set goals to accomplish them, you will not only have potential for a great year but, more significantly, you will be on your way to a life of balance, fulfillment, and will also likely make a significant contribution to the world.
Karim Camara, is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Abundant Life Church, Brooklyn, New York. He is also a Speaker, Coach and Trainer dedicated to helping individuals and organizations become dramatically more productive.