As the year comes to a close, you’re probably reflecting on everything that has happened in 2015. You’re remembering your successes, and hopefully laughing at the inevitable failures learning experiences you had along the way. But there is one important question that will shape the coming year: what have I become?
The key to answering this question involves stepping back from the nitty-gritty of your daily tasks and looking at the bigger picture. Your everyday actions add up to create your life, or more accurately, they shape how the person you were changes into the person you will be tomorrow, just like clay on an ever-spinning potter’s wheel.
Why do you do the things you do? While your life is full of external influences and responsibilities to others, your habits and your personal ambitions are completely your own. This essential realization is the first step towards shaping your future.
Take some time to make an assessment of your big picture. Take a notes page in your planner or a page of your journal and write out all your habits, responsibilities, expectations, and life goals. Try to capture everything you do on an average day in a daily template.
Once you have your daily template, you can start marking your daily tasks in different categories. For example, let’s say you want to learn to play the guitar, but you babysit your young grandchildren and have a habit of scrolling through your Facebook feed every evening before your favorite show comes on. In this small example, there’s an ambition (guitar), a responsibility (babysitting), and a couple of habits (your evening activities).
You only have so many hours each day, so a new goal will likely conflict with a current responsibility or habitual use of your time. As you plan on who you want to become in 2016, you can use your daily template to see which habits will need to change in order to achieve what you want. With the cost laid out this way, it’s easier to discover your true goals for 2016. How others feel you should spend your time won’t win out over your habits. Only the tasks that are most important to you will prompt you to change.
Once you’ve identified your new goals on your daily template, use the month of January to track them. Write down a specific task for each day in your planner to remind you of the steps you’re taking toward your new goals. Mark off each successful day until your habits start to change. Before you know it, you’ll be actively shaping your 2016 and becoming the person you want to be.