Every since I left college, I have used the time at the end of each year to reflect on what I have done to achieve my goals, and then set new ones for the next 12 months. Yes, it sounds rather corny but for me it helps me measure my own personal and professional growth. In other words, I do this for ME, not my employer.
Let me share a couple of secrets as background: I tend to be rather obsessive about keeping lists–to-do lists, bucket lists, grocery lists, reading lists, home project lists, Christmas lists. Well, you get the idea. There is a cathartic effect to crossing something off a list. On the flip side, I am a recovering procrastinator. Without my lists I would never get anything done. So back to my first point: It’s about setting goals.
I have three sets of personal and professional goals that feed into each other: my yearly goals, my three year goals, and my five year goals. I interlace personal and professional goals in each of these.
I use the quiet time of the holidays to reflect on what has happened during the past year and how it has impacted my goals. I try to look at this very critically. From there, I examine my three and five year goals to see if they are still things that I want to accomplish, or not, and make the proper adjustments.
Using my three and five year goals sheets (or lists) as my road map, I start to think about what I NEED to accomplish in the coming new year. Is it doable? Is it realistic? I then choose five professional goals and five personal goals that I really NEED to achieve and, at a minimum, will not hinder my three and five year plans–but instead will advance them. I then choose another three professional and three personal goals that I WANT to achieve.
Writing and printing out these 16 goals helps me decide if they’re really meant for the upcoming year or not. I actually put this list next to my computer so it’s inescapable and almost constantly in my view. I then constantly revise and mark them up.
On December 31, I finalize my goals for the New Year. I start looking on them as personal challenges, as well as ways to help me keep growing as a person and a professional. For me, I do this to try to achieve… well, growth and happiness in myself. To quote a very wise person, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” This wise person is a simple man by the name of Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama), who I was honored to meet twice at Stanford University over the last 20 years. He’s one of many great people who influences me daily.