Exactly one year ago today, Joanne wrote this piece called Reflect on What Went Well this Year.
Exactly one year later, we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. To say “What a difference a year makes,” can not even begin to capture the monumental situation we have been in for almost the full year.
Normally with the New Year, we would review the year before, assessing what worked well, what didn’t work so well, and then set goals–or directions as I prefer to call them–as we move into the New Year.
This point in time is like no other before it, however, at least in our lifetimes. As we review 2020, we keep in mind all that we could not have possibly foreseen in terms of what was in store for us. A lot has happened for everyone, some of which is much more devastating than others. Still, it’s been challenging for everyone.
So what do we do?
We do what we always do. We run through the process of a year-end review and set directions for the New Year, even though there are bound to be things we simply can’t anticipate. Rather, we go into this appreciating how the regularity of these rituals keeps us grounded in reality.
Let’s go for it
Grab a notebook or fire up OneNote, and answer the following questions.
What worked in 2020?
It was a year we never could have planned for and certainly never would have asked for, but despite all the problems and challenges, what did you do well? How did you manage? How did you rise to the occasion? What did you do in your family life, in your personal life, and in your business life that helped you, as well as others? What are you most proud of doing?
What about your book? How were you able to keep moving forward with it? As an author, speaker, and thought leader, you likely had to pivot (Note: This word is about to go on my overused list.) from on-the-ground events to on-line events. How did that go? What did you learn? How did you overcome it? What have been your results?
What didn’t work so well in 2020?
We all have plenty that can go on this list. Go ahead and make another entry. What didn’t go so well? This one may be lengthy, and that’s okay. We may burn it afterward. List any disappointments you experienced, plans you made that were dashed, opportunities that just went away, relationship visits that had to be paused. 2020 was quite the year. For sure, but now we turn another page…
Look at 2021
We are in the present looking toward the future. I have seen many memes and comments over the past month or so that say we just need to “Get 2020 behind us. Kick this year to the curb…” and while I truly hope it’s like flipping a page and everything is so much better now that it’s January 2021, the truth is, it may take some time.
As you plan for what you want for the future, specifically 2021, maybe the plan is simply what to do today or this week, or this month. Maybe it’s filled with goals and directions that are not pie-in-the-sky but feel more achievable. Whatever is on your list, make it feel doable.
Yes, it’s challenging because there are so many things out of our control. We can’t control a pandemic, only our response to it. We can’t control other people, only ourselves. And while we don’t know if we’ll be traveling this year or having in-person events, we might. There is a vaccine being rolled out, so you could plan your year to include these possibilities.
Perhaps one of the biggest things 2020 taught all of us is the need to be flexible. There is an old saying that “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” and there is some truth in that. Still, making plans gives us a roadmap. I like to think of it as our own GPS. If we go off course, a voice simply says, “Recalculating,” and it creates another route for us to get to our destination. Maybe we all need to embrace this.
Goals and directions
As for setting New Year Resolutions and goals, I’m all for it, although I really prefer to set directions rather than specific goals. SMART goals are fine for getting the car detailed and doing your taxes, but when it comes to being a better speaker, or having more influence, or being a better writer and promoter of books, directions are preferable.
After all, at what point can you say, “There now. I’ve made it. I’m a great speaker. I am now a powerful influencer. I’m a fabulous writer and promoter of my books.”
I’m not sure we ever really arrive at true mastery. No matter how good we are at what we do, we can always be better, and the fact that things change, including tech, trends, people’s interests, etc., there is always room for improvement.
Setting a direction means you have identified where you want to go, or better yet, who you want to become, and you’re consistently taking steps and moving toward what you want. Identifying specific steps you will take on a regular basis takes you along the path.
“In order to move in the direction of becoming a great marketer and publicist for my book, every workday I am going to do five things to help promote my book,” If you do five things every workday, that’s twenty-five actions a week, 100 a month, 1,200 active steps every year.
If you want to be a better speaker, either make additional training one of your steps or get busy booking a virtual event every other week to get more experience. The world will open up again and now may be a very good time to look into booking on-the-ground speaking events for the end of 2021 into and 2022. Of course, we have to monitor this since we don’t have a crystal ball, but chances are this is the way this will pan out now that the vaccine is here.
If you want to be a thought leader, at what point can you say that? Personally, I laugh a little when someone self identifies on his or her bio this way. It really is up to others to identify you as an actual thought leader, but you can certainly have that on your list of 2021 directions and goals. Then identify steps you can take each day that will lead you in that direction.
Be sure your action steps feel doable. Use language that is compelling rather than so elaborate it gives resistance a chance to pop up. Resistance loves it when you set really lofty goals because then it can tell you all the reasons why you can’t do it, why you’re not good enough, and who do you think you are, and the next thing you know you’ve procrastinated for 6 months on something you said you wanted.
Make the process work for you. Do things and write things down that help you to win.
As we look out into 2021 and write down our lists of what we want, remember: We can only control what we can control. A lot of people had trouble with that one last year.
Be OK with getting a little something done each day, rather than demanding you get huge items done and off your to-do list in record time. Be gentle with yourself. Coax and encourage yourself. It works so much better than yelling at yourself, “Don’t be so stupid. What is the matter with you?” I mean really. Even little kids and dogs won’t respond to that. Why would we?
Write down goals for specific items you want or specific things you want to do. Create directions when it comes to who you are becoming.
2020 has been a challenge and a year unlike any other. No question about it. May 2021 be a better year for all of us, filled with more laughter, fun, light, and great health. And, a year filled with greater publicity for our books, so they reach people who need to hear our messages.
To your success!