There is always a lot of talk around the New Year's celebration about resolutions and things people are going to change in the year to come. I find this a bit curious, however, in the absence of a scoreboard to reflect the performance for the year that is passing.
A habit that is becoming a tradition for me is to take a moment at the end of each year and write out a list of all major accomplishments, events, and outstanding moments from that year. This has proven to be both enlightening and rewarding. It lets me see that in some cases and certain areas, I am not accomplishing nearly as much as I might have thought, while in others I am perhaps doing better than I might have imagined. Without taking stock of these things specifically, however, we only have a fuzzy feeling for what we've accomplished in the previous year. Pessimists will be likely, in the absence of such data, to assume the worst and think that they haven't done much at all. While the confident types will be a little self-deceived and think they've done better than they actually have.
As the saying goes, In God We Trust, all others must bring data. I guess it only makes sense to include ourselves in "all others." Shouldn't we take stock and produce data on our own performance? If not, how can we make accurate assessments of where we are and what changes need to be made? It is the difference between living approximately or living accurately. Remember, it is easy to become self-deceived, we must fight the tendency with facts.
For instance, as I look at my "year in review," I see that I could still find a way to read more, write more, and hit several other key areas for myself. In some categories, like lawsuits, for instance, I am overachieving :) In physical fitness, I have had a year of advancement. Knowing where I was a year ago helps me see that I have, in fact, improved in this category. However, I can readily identify areas of health and physical fitness in which I would like to push harder.
These are just some examples from my year. Obviously, there are many more. We can and should all do this in other categories, as well. Finance, Friends, Family, Business, Career, Spiritual, Biblical study, etc. are all areas that should be considered. Just how many books did we read? How many uplifting, educational CDs did we listen to? How many leadership development meetings did we attend? How much money did we give to charities? Which ones? How much time did we spend with family and friends? How many specific steps did we take to express love and encouragement to others?
This may all seem a bit much, but I assure you, it only takes an hour or so to look back through calendars and records and benefit from this process. And as with most of these types of things, it turns out to be a bit of fun, too. But as I stated, the value of doing this keeps us from operating on assumptions and puts real, actual data at our finger tips. Now, I ask you: What could be better for a leader looking to improve his or her life than accurate data from which to make new resolutions?
Happy New Year to everyone out there!
May 2008 be a year for your record books!