What are your New Year’s Resolutions? This may be an easy question or a really hard question. I don’t necessarily have that problem because I have had a string of managers who never hesitated on directing my performance improvement. And I always had my trusted fail safe, my wife. I am not joking when I say she knows me better then myself. In this sense I have been very lucky, as I have always had people giving me honest feedback and helping me to improve myself.
But not everyone is that lucky. Not everyone reaches out to others to get feedback, and for those that do seek out feedback, not everyone has relationships that are willing to provide honest feedback that is painful to hear. Even if the person receives honest feedback, there is no guarantee that they will listen and translate it into improvement actions. Feedback cannot be the only source of inspiration for improvement. Each of us needs to ability to look inside ourselves, and reflect on our own areas to improve.
Successful New Year’s resolutions requires you reflect on the 7 areas of your life
Creating successful New Year’s resolutions is all about asking ourselves tough questions, and then seeing where our answers take us. The key is not to limit your answers or immediately shoot down your own ideas. Reflection is about exploring the possibilities, not building the final plan. Reflection is also about asking yourself the hard questions to make sure you have an accurate picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Setting concrete goals and building an action plan should only occur after you have fully explored your answers.
In order to guide your inner reflections, we recommend that you ask yourself questions regarding 7 different aspects of your life. These questions are going to force you to describe yourself, what you do, where you get enjoyment, etc… As you go through these questions, make sure you write down your answers. It is very easy to get lost in a thought and forget what you had previously answered
I also suggest that you break up this reflection into different sessions. Don’t just answer the questions of all 7 areas in 1 hour. Set aside time across multiple days to answer a few questions, and then let those answers percolate over the night. With those suggestions in mind, here at the 7 life areas.
Physical – How you look and feel 1 year from today.
- How do you feel?
- How do you look?
- How fit are you?
- How do others describe you in terms of physical appearance?
- How much do you exercise, and what type of exercise is it?
- What are you eating, drinking, and smoking?
- Are there any health issues that you have been putting off that you have now resolved?
Mental – Your state of mind 1 year from today
- How are you using your mind / talents in a way that makes you feel fulfilled?
- What new skills or knowledge have you acquired?
- What books, newspapers, journals, or other material are you reading?
- What learning experiences have you had?
- What are you an expert in?
- What do others say about your expertise, and how do they view you?
Social – Your relationships with friends 1 year from today
- What is your social life like?
- How are you using your social time?
- Who are you spending more time with?
- Who are you spending less time with?
- Have you expanded or reduced your circle of friends
- How would your friends describe you?
- How shy or outgoing are you in meeting new people?
- What do your friends most appreciate about you?
- What clubs or other social groupings have you joined?
Occupational – Your work 1 year from now
- What are you doing work wise and how fulfilled are you?
- Are you using your talents and skills to their maximum? How?
- What have you achieved?
- What are you like as a colleague?
- What are you like as a boss?
- What work habits have you changed?
- Is there an outstanding work issue that you have now dealt with? How?
- What does your work environment look like, and how does it feel?
Financial – Your financial situations 1 year from now
- How much are you earning?
- How much are your debts?
- How much are you saving and in investments?
- What kind of significant assets do you have (e.g. Car, house)?
- How important is money to you?
- How much is enough money?
- How are you spending money differently?
- What are you most proud to say you have achieved financially?
Familial – Your family relationships 1 year from now
- What are you like as a family member (Son/Daughter, Brother/Sister, Parent, etc…)?
- What is important about family to you?
- How is your relationship different from now, as compared to a year ago?
- What would your family say about their relationship with you?
- Are there any family issues you feel happy to have resolved?
Intimate – Your intimate relationship 1 year from now
- What relationship, if any, are you in?
- What are your feelings for the other person?
- What does the other person think about you?
- How do your closest friends perceive the relationship?
- What are the boundaries in the relationship?
- What are you getting from the other person?
- What are you giving to the other person?
Knowing where to improve will make you a better leader and a better person
Too often the leaders I meet are extremely action oriented. They get stuff done! Unfortunately, their desire to go forward will sometimes overwhelm their desire to set the right direction. Very few leaders actually spend the time reflecting inwards, and set clear plans on improving their life. Either their New Year’s Resolutions are too broad (“I need to be a better leader”) or they are too ambitious (“I need to get healthier, work less, be a better parent, etc…”). Unless you spend the time reflecting on clear areas to improve and follow that immediately with clear actions on how you will improve in those areas, nothing will happen.
Becoming a better partner, parent, colleague, leader, or anything will not happen magically on its own. It requires that you reflect within yourself, and truly discover what you want to improve. Only then can you create New Year’s Resolutions that you are likely to achieve.
I would also like to give credit to the company who is the inspiration source of research for this article. I have had the pleasure to work with the international training company Mind Gym, which specializes in integrating best in class practices, science, and energetic activities into 90 minute training modules. You might not think you can learn a lot in 90 minutes, but you would be wrong. Mind Gym has created some of the best material I have ever worked with, and that is based on my experience running the training and development for 2 Fortune 500 companies.