How to make each year better than the last

Did you notice all those new faces hanging around at the gym on Monday?
I went back for my workout this morning, and it was almost empty. Already.
Seven days into 2016, and the euphoria has already started to die out.

Statistics are shocking: over 9 out of 10 people don’t keep their resolutions, and most throw in the towel within the first 24 days of the new year.

The real shocker is not that only 5% make it.
It’s that almost 95% of people don’t follow through. Every. Single. Year.
Those same people try again and again, and make the same mistakes over and over.
Instead of looking back and learning from what didn’t work, they ignore it and repeat it every twelve months.

How to make 2016 a year worse than the last?
Just ignore 2015.

New-Years-Resolutions-Fail

How to do your 2015 review in 4 steps.

1.
 If you set any goals, dig them out.

How did you do? Are there any objectives that are not relevant any more?
What can you learn? Be honest!
Two of my objectives are now irrelevant. I give myself a pass.
I achieved three, all beyond expectations. I read 31 books in 12 months, and I managed to bulk up to my target weight, putting on 8 kilos (17.5lb) in less than 3 months. Yes, I was Snoop Dogg skinny.
I also launched a few business experiments, one of which is still making sales.
But…although I did move closer, I fell short of my financial objectives.

Now for each goal, write down one lesson you can learn. What can you repeat in 2016 and what should you be aware of?
Looking at my own review, I can see that I did a lot of catching up towards the end of the year.
This happened right after I worked on defining my longer-term objectives.
It’s evident that long-term thinking and clear priorities supported my successes, while short-term focus sabotaged the rest.

2.
 List all the accomplishments you’re proud of.

Don’t limit yourself to the goals you formally set at the beginning of the year.
Most of my proud bits of 2015 were unrelated to my official objectives – and yet they feel so great!
Some are a bit silly (like, shaving 300 times) but others are very powerful: making new friends, being able to organise a trip to Petra for mum’s birthday (2016), and the chats with my email subscribers are some of my favourite ones.
They make me feel very grateful…and that’s the whole point: to get positive momentum to build on in the new year.

3.
 Next: 5 + 5.

Make two columns on a piece of paper. On one side, list 5 positive things that happened in 2015. On the other side, list 5 negative things.
If you keep a journal, you can flick through it to find your 5+5. 
If not, your social media, Facebook photos, and emails will do. 
In my case, I used my journal and emails.

Write one lesson learnt from each one of them.
 How can you do more of what’s worked? And what can you learn from what hasn’t?
Looking at negatives helps to identify the changes needed to progress in the new year.
For example, I realised I didn’t travel enough, so I looked why this happened, and planned 2016 to be different.

4.
 Spot patterns.

Look for common threads
, there will be plenty.
For me, the patterns are very clear: thinking longer-term, setting better priorities (a natural consequence), and keeping a balanced life are the three themes that consistently made a difference in 2015. 
I will explore all of them in future posts.

Ok, your turn now: what are the biggest lessons learnt in 2015 that will bulletproof the year ahead?
 And what are your objectives for 2016? If you want to share your thoughts with me, email me.
I look forward to reading them.

—Matt


goal setting handbook