gratituesday 12/14

The year-end inventory.

Instead of making resolutions, why not do something more that’s more effective?

New Year’s resolutions are a pervasive cultural habit. And useless. Think about it. How many times have you made that list of resolutions:

lose ten pounds
join a gym
get a better job
invite your family over for dinner
get married
have a child
eliminate debt
and on, and on, and on…

Then, few weeks into January you find yourself disappointed that you’re not following through. If in fact you even remember your late-December resolve. There’s a really interesting article by Jonah Lehrer that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last year that speaks to the science of why 88% of all resolutions end in failure.

The year-end inventory; a more useful exercise

My theory is that the resolutions habit evolved out of the practice of year-end inventory: taking time at the end of the year to reflect, review, reassess. Businesses balance their year-end books; so can we as individuals and entrepreneurs. Getting clear about where we’ve been allows us to then set concrete goals and an action plan for the coming year.

Using your calendar, journal, and photos from the past year as reference materials, ask yourself:

What have I accomplished?
What inspired me?
What changed my life?
How did I handle tragedy?
What challenged me?

Use a notebook for this exercise, or create a computer document and file it carefully, so you can go back to it, review it and update it. Tracking your goals and achievements periodically (at least once a year, preferably quarterly) becomes a powerful tool that will, in coming years help you review your Wins (goals achieved) and Incompletions (still to do), and keep your Goals lists relevant and timely.

Begin by making a list of everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. What are the things you feel particularly proud of or good about? Cover all the areas of your life:

Family, friends
Health and wellness
Personal growth
Your physical environment

Ask yourself where you stand in all these areas. What progress have you made? What still needs to be improved upon? These answers comprise your Wins and your Incompletions and can then be transformed into your master Action list for the coming year, a list that’s dynamic, and editable at any time as things change. Goals that are immediately transferable into actions are much more achievable than those elusive and vague resolutions.

Review your inventory with a trusted friend, advisor, mentor or coach. You deserve support for taking actions based on the work you’ve done, actions that reflect your core values and points you in the direction of your highest good!

This method of creating your year-end personal inventory accomplishes so much more than a list of resolutions, and eliminates pressure at the same time. Now you can easily and gracefully embrace the turning of the year, knowing that you are clear about what’s next!

My coaching clients and I work on this each year, while some previous clients even come back annually for me to support them through this process. I invite you to do the same. We’ll work together for two or three sessions, and the result will be a retrospective of 2010 that will organically start you off on a workable and appropriate action list for 2011. Get in touch today!


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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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