2016 your best year ever? How to improve in 2017?

In 2016 I applied Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever approach to my goal setting for the first time.  I’ve had a brilliant year, though not exactly my best year ever. So, there are still lessons to learn to make next year even more amazing.

In this penultimate post of 2016, I reflect on how I did with Michael’s approach, my learning from applying it, my feelings on using it, and how I intend to improve in 2017.

Finally, I suggest some simple steps you can take to emulate a successful goal setting plan in 2017.

The Best Year Ever Approach

Michael recommends writing down your goals, so I did this for the first time in 2016. He further suggests that you set yourself between 7 – 10 goals across your life spectrum, not just about work. So, your goals need to focus on career, family/relational, health, spiritual, personal/hobbies, and financial elements of your life.

In writing your goals, Micahel advocates an active goal writing approach, using the acronym AACTION, which stands for actionable, aligned, challenging, time-bound, inspiring, objective and narrow. It is a challenge to follow the formula, but it does result in sharper, clearer and more focused goals

Once you have your goals, Michael suggests you share them selectively. I wrote ten goals and shared them with two close personal friends, one in the UK and one in the US.

Finally, Michael counsels a regular review of your goals, on a weekly basis, thus ensuring that the goals remain at the forefront of your mind.

How did I do with my goals for 2016?

For my goals in 2016, I wrote four career objectives, two for my family, and one each for spiritual, financial, health, and personal/hobbies.

On reflection today, my performance over the year was pretty mixed, though I still had a brilliant year, more of which later.

I abandoned my spiritual goal, reading the Master Key by Charles Haanel and practising the exercises, after about twelve weeks, though I did maintain reasonably regular meditation and spiritual reading throughout the year.

I failed to lose weight, my health goal and gained five pounds. Of course, I did say I’d had a brilliant year!

I easily achieved my family goals by being more intentional and ‘present in the moment’.

I fulfilled my personal/hobbies goal well within the time set, and my garden has never looked better than this past summer.

I undershot my financial target by about 40% of the target, but I’d been ambitious from the outset and was unsurprised by this.

As for my career goals, they presented the poorest return. Of the four, the one I was delighted with was my blogging. I set a highly ambitious target of blogging three times a week and, with some gaps through the year, kept to that.

I also made significant progress on my solo book, though did not complete it by the year end as planned.

Nine months later than expected, my new website will appear in early 2017. That has largely been for reasons beyond my personal control, as my son is building the website and other private work, a change of job and his wedding have overtaken events.

Finally, my regular accountability sessions did not materialise as anticipated and the proof of that is clearly in the motley review noted in this section.

How do I feel about my year on reflection?

Sitting here writing this blog post, I feel very relaxed about my overall performance, as I understand why it is such a diverse set of results. I also know what I need to do to improve in 2017 and how I might best do that.

My biggest happiness comes from being far more intentional about my family and that my quality time with my wife and soul mate well exceeded the goal that I had set. That is what has made this year a brilliant year for me, and perversely did for me in meeting my health goal! The highlight of the year was our son’s wedding, which was a magical weekend, and, looking back, that along with all the enriched contact with my family has made this year brilliant. There is truth in there’s more than work to your life.

I am also at ease with the fact that I set myself stretch goals, which I knew would take some achieving. Michael Hyatt advises that your goals need to require your best effort, though interestingly, as human beings we are all subject to frailty and weakness, and I am clearly no exception to that rule. I am, however, progressing well with some of my goals for 2016, though they are not yet fully completed. So I see that as a positive, not a negative.

What lessons did I learn to help me improve in 2017?

On reflection, there are some key learning points from my use of Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever approach.

In particular, the spread of objectives gives a grounded sense to your life, including work. Writing them down, using the AACTION formula, also helps to make you think carefully before committing pen to paper and committing yourself to action. So, I will take that route again for next year. Before this, I will undertake a full review of 2016, as also suggested by Michael, to properly acknowledge what happened, learn from that experience, and adjust my behaviour accordingly.

From my initial reflection on my goal setting and practice in 2016, a weekly review of my goals was clearly my biggest failing. Michael recommends this, along with chunking down and writing down actions that help you towards your goals. Taking that bite-sized approach is a necessity for me in 2017, as it will keep my goals at the forefront of my mind, as well as helping me to align my priorities for action.

I also recognise that my accountability sessions proved not as regular as I had planned. I think we might all benefit from that external stimulus to keep us laser-focused, as my great friend Cynthia Bazin would suggest. So a key action for me in 2017 is to set in place a monthly session to do this. I have a close friend here in the North East who I will approach about this over the next few days. I am sure this will help me improve my focus, my actions and my outcomes.

While not wholly uncomfortable about this, my reflections also affirmed that I lack discipline and self-control at times and I need to improve on these aspects of my behaviour. I have a mind like a butterfly and often move spontaneously from topic to topic, revelling in the glee that new learning brings. I am blessed with an innate curiosity, though I need to become better at channelling it.

Finally, in hindsight, I set myself too many goals, and this is a lesson to take forward into 2017. That indicates to me that I took Michael’s approach too literally and did not give sufficient thought to the process as I might do it. That is a helpful insight, as I had never taken this approach before and now I can refine it to make more sense for me. I am therefore going to set myself seven goals for 2017, rather than the ten I did for 2016.

What does this mean for you?

I think you might take a few simple lessons from this blog post. Goals in life are important, and if they are important, you must deal with them appropriately.

So, take some time to write them down, in a clear, concise, and actionable fashion. Set deadlines for completing your goals spaced throughout the year ahead and put in place a weekly review and prioritisation process.

Set goals that stretch you but are not overly ambitious. Set sufficient goals to make a difference but not too many that it becomes a chore to monitor, review and evaluate them. Finally, set a spread of objectives across your life elements, not just about your work or career, and find someone you trust and respect to help you achieve them!

I welcome your comments and enjoy engaging in further dialogue. If I can be of any assistance in coaching your leadership practice, building your happiness or developing greater personal resilience, please just ask.

Contact me on john@johnthurlbeck.co.uk or by calling +447958765972.

I am always happy to listen and ready to help.

Thank you for reading and every best wish for 2017!

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