The year has started. We have had that moment sitting with a cup of coffee, thinking about what we achieved last year and what we would like to do this year: the time of “new year resolutions”.
I am a Finance guy, working in a multinational company coordinating North America and Northern Europe, a role which keeps me quite busy during the day.
However I also try to keep my brain busy outside of the daily job with some interesting hobbies.
I follow quite a structured approach to define my new year resolutions.
Here it is:
1. Define What Is Important For You
The first thing I do is do define what is important for me. It can be family time, it can be time for myself, it can be friends or time spent at work. Define two or three variables which really impact your quality of life.
2. Draw A Spider Chart and Assess Your Current Status
Once you have defined what’s important for you, the next step is to assess where you are now.
Drawing a spider chart, you can assess for each single variable where you feel you are now.
You don’t need to be too tough with yourself but you must be honest. The scale I usually use is from 1 to 10 and gives me enough space to work with.
The assessment can be based on what you achieved or on how you feel.
For example if my variable is “time spent on work” my assessment usually is based on the number of hours spent versus the deliverables I made, rather than the fun aspect of the time spent at work or how happy I’m overall with the work-life balance.
Once you have assessed the variables, put a dot on each axis.
3. Define Your Ambition
Now it’s time to define where you want to go. What’s your ambition?
In this stage too, it is important to be honest to yourself (don’t promise the Moon!) but also brave enough.
For each of the variables you defined on step 2, define where you would like to be at the end of the year.
For example, looking at “time spent on work” maybe you want to reduce this because it is consuming a lot of energy and the benefits are reducing .
Therefore if you want to have more time to focus on looking for a new job, or simply spend time with your family and friends, you should assess this aspect as lower than this year.
In this way you will end up with a chart like the one in the picture below.
4. Close The Gap
You have assessed where you are and where you would like to be.It is now time to close this gap.
In the chart you immediately should see where you have the big gap and if there is a chance to reduce it by compensating with some other dimensions.
In the example provided here, I wanted to increase time with my family, but I could potentially use the reduction of focus on others and work to get there.
The basic idea of my approach is, in fact, that we have a limited about of energy and what changes from year to year is the way we allocate it.
And the way we allocate our energy should be in line with what makes us happy.
When you close the gap define clear actions to do this on each single variable.
Here some examples based on the chart above:
Work: adjust mix of resources, adjust time in the office, delegate more, reduce number of useless meetings;
Others: choose people to go out with, have less night out but better ones;
Family: wedding decision, have more holidays spread around the year (i.e. long weekend), spent time with family
Myself: do more sport, do more funny things, have more time to read, be present at the time.
5. Tie A Knot In Your Handkerchief
To make it real, we have to find a way to remember what we promised to ourselves.
I find it very useful to take a picture of this drawing and put in the favorites pictures on my mobile.
In this way, you keep it for yourself, but you also have a chance to quickly get it when you are flying, when you are chilling out on the sofa or when you are feeling down at work.
I find it very useful, because you can sometimes reassess where you are and understand if you are on track with your aspirations and ambitions.
I do believe that only if you measure things you can make it happens, so in this way you have a structured, uncomplicated way to plan your new year.