As 2012 fades into the sunset (and may it rest in peace!), most of us can benefit from a bit of focused reflection on what we achieved (or didn’t!) over the past twelve months. Beyond providing some assessment of how well we used our time and talents, perhaps this will also provide motivation to make better use of 2013.
- Review your public image — your own as well as your company’s. LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, email signatures, websites, business cards, brochures . . . make sure all your contact information is correct. Check website links to make sure they aren’t broken, update photos (not cool to still have pictures posted of employees or clients who’ve been gone for a year), make sure all pages are loading properly, and that emails to your “info/sales@” address aren’t wandering around unclaimed out there in cyberspace.
- Acknowledge any bad calls, bad moves, or bad ideas you made this year and move on. As Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Clean up any remaining collateral damage, figure out what you learned from the debacle, then close the door — permanently — on that chapter.
- Identify at least five specific goals you want to accomplish in the new year. “Identify” means write down the words on a piece of paper or key them into a document. You’ll be surprised at how much more committed you are to a goal once it’s in print. Depending on how much help you think you’ll need to stay on track, you can post the goals in a prominent place, share them with a friend or coworker, or just tuck them away in a safe place for periodic review.
- Aim for productivity instead of perfection. Face it, most projects run into a glitch somewhere along the way. If you’re a perfectionist, that can be all the excuse you need to completely derail. But if you strive to accomplish something, rather than a perfect outcome, you’ll at least have something to show for your effort, and you’ll put a lot less stress on all involved.
- Take smaller bites. Whether it’s a burger or business proposition, you’ll always do better in the long run by tackling one morsel at a time. Even the most daunting objective is manageable when subdivided into small, viable tasks.
- Make life more sustainable by looking for ways to waste less and be more purposeful in what you use. If you’re not already recycling, start. Analyze your habits and usage — especially as they relate to energy, water, fuel, food, trash, and time — to see if a change in processes or equipment might result in significant savings.
- Clear out the clutter. It’s amazing how much junk can accumulate in an office, desk, filing cabinet, computer, or that ubiquitous “back room” in the course of a year. Pick a day to purge anything that you know has served its purpose and has no further value.
- Get rid of anything that is sucking energy out of your life. It might be a customer whom you simply cannot please. It might be a friendship that drains instead of uplifts. It might be a car that’s spending more time in the repair shop than on the road. Obviously, there are some common sense limits to how far you can take this; you can’t get rid of your job, for example, but perhaps you can find a more pleasant commute route or arrange to work from home one day a week. Eliminating even one constant source of stress will make a difference in your energy level, productivity, and attitude.
- Think about people who made a positive impact on your life this year and thank them. Whether it’s a customer who improved your bottom line, a coworker whose cooperation made your life easier, an employee who went above and beyond, or a coffee shop clerk whose sense of humor salvaged a lousy day more than once, write that person a note telling them what they did and how much you appreciate it. Better yet, write their boss.
- Finally, on any given day, try to make the world a better place. You don’t have to cure cancer or bring about world peace. Simply picking up a piece of trash in the parking lot or smiling at a stranger will suffice. Contrary to common opinion, one person can make a difference.
We here at VantagePoint hope your new year is full of blessings and opportunities — and if we can do anything to help you achieve that, please let us know.