You haven't heard from me in a while. I apologize. No, I didn't get canned; no, I didn't quit the column; and no, I didn't move to Canada right after the presidential election, but thank you for your email concern.
As a matter of fact, I have been busy putting together a plan for the new year. At the end of each year, I take time during the holidays to reflect, re-tool and set new goals. During said time, I'll read a lot of books, listen to a few lectures and listen to my intuition as I write down what it is I'm looking to accomplish both in the coming months, as well as down the line several years from now.
I've found that taking time to dedicate to yourself as you approach each new year helps to prepare you in meeting your goals. By focusing clearly and specifically on what you desire out of the coming calendar and of yourself, you are able to easily identify opportunities that present themselves, as well as hold yourself accountable for achieving results.
Some friends refer to what I do each year as a drawn-out way of declaring new year's resolutions. But the point I argue with them is that new year's resolutions, the very idea, is a joke. Sure, it's cute to say you're going to lose weight and stop a bad habit, but at the other end of the year a ridiculous number of people can't even tell you what there resolution was to begin with.
I not only brainstorm what's important to me, but I also categorize by faith, family, relationships, business, passion and fun. After that, I post the list and a detailed description of how I'm going to meet those goals, along with the date, on my home office desk and door so that it's fresh in my mind every time I'm near those areas, which in my case is several times a day. Call it a map for the new year, if you will.
If you're anything like me, and want to accomplish a lot each year (even to a fault), creating a map has been very helpful in keeping me on-track to make those bullet-points happen. Whether it's something simple, like writing more thank-you letters to people you care about and wish to express gratitude to, or something big, like buying a home, the map puts things in front of you, in perspective and in your mind daily.
Therefore, you're much more likely to succeed, because you stay ever-present with your goals.
I developed my map idea after a few years of reading different books on the topic of self-improvement and personal success. Nearly all of the books talked about writing things down. They also touched on time tables and daily visualization of goals. But I decided to take it a step further and also add images to each goal, so that there is no doubt what I'm aiming to achieve.
Again, I place the map front and center, and describe under each bullet how I plan on succeeding and the time frame I believe it will take me.
By the same token, don't be afraid to eliminate a goal if it just isn't feasible — or go ahead and assign it a new time frame, if it is achievable but something unexpected got in the way.
Last year I was able to accomplish quite a bit on my map, but not everything. Some things made it on this year's map; others, I dropped because not everything that was important to me last year is important to me this year.
One of the things on my map this year is take a more positive, optimistic tone with this column. While politics and hard opinion aren't totally taking a hike (expect a few pieces on the topics of the moment every once in a while), I would like to spotlight more inspirational stories and share more words on uplifting topics.
There is enough anger and doom in news and opinion right now to depress even the likes of smiley evangelist Joel Osteen. I don't feel as though adding to that mix very often is productive during a time when so many are looking for a way out of the storm clouds.
That's just the first change as part of my 2013 map. I have a lot I can't wait to share with you throughout the year, and with your help, I hope we can inspire one another to think, be and do life a little differently.
I look forward to starting a new conversation with you as we move forward.
Do you have a map or something like it for the new year? I'd love to hear your plans and how you keep yourself honest in achieving them.
Contact columnist Wade Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.