Friday, January 1, 2010

The List - 2009

So, every New Year's Day, you think about all the things you did wrong or didn't do at all, and resolve to do things right this year.


Well, here's another idea. It's the New Year's List - 25 things that you accomplished, did right or are just plain proud of from the year just past. I've been doing this for a few years now, and I highly recommend it.

I got the idea from Cheryl Richardson, who writes life coaching/self help books, and I have to say it's a pretty sound idea, especially if you're one of those people (like me) who tends to discount what they have really accomplished.

For instance, when I started to write my list this morning, I thought, "Oh, God...I accomplished nothing in 2009. I bet I won't even get to 25." Then I started writing.

Here are just 5 things from my list:

1. Traveled to London, England with my daughter (her first time abroad)
2. Lost 40 pounds
3. Turned 40
4. Went home for Christmas to see my family for the first time in 8 years (and had an awesome time)
5. Took up fencing, which I had always wanted to try and was too scared to.

Uh...I think those things alone would probably be enough to say I accomplished a lot in 2009, don't you? And of course, I had a lot of smaller - but equally impressive - things on my list, too.

The point is that it's easy to focus on the things you didn't do or want to change, and then forget all the things that you did do and do well. And while having goals and resolutions for the new year is important and worthwhile, how are you supposed to do that without a good internal inventory? You need to know your assets, as well as your liabilities.

At work, we call it "Start, Stop, Continue." What are those things you want to start doing, stop doing, and most importantly, continue doing? If you're doing something well or right now, you don't want to stop doing that, or let it slip. You want to build on it.

So, start your list! You can do more than 25 if you want, but try to get to at least 25. To help you out, here are some questions from Cheryl's book Life Makeovers.

"*What qualities of character have you strengthened? Are you more honest with others about how you feel? Have you learned to set boundaries with those people who drain your energy? Have you improved your communication skills or become more sensitive to the needs of others?

*Have you shared an act of kindness or supported others in some way? Did you help a friend who is going through a divorce or care for an elderly parent? Did you coach your kid's sports team or volunteer for a non-profit organization?

*What special memories have you created with those you love? Did you take a vacation that was particularly memorable? Did you organize an event that brought people closer together? Were there any special memories that stand out?

*What have you achieved or accomplished? Consider both your personal and professional life. Did you meet business goals or get a promotion at work? Did you finish an important project, like writing a book or developing a workshop, or channel your creative energy into cooking or painting?"

The great thing about this exercise is that even in "bad years", you accomplished more than you think you did. To see that on paper is actually a really good thing, and puts you in a frame of mind to make this year even better.

Happy 2010, everybody!