One year ends and another begins. We make balance about this year, we thought it was bad and we wish that next year will be much better.

It seems that human beings seek a special day in the year for special wishes: New Year, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s, Labor Day, birthdays, etc.. Maybe, our poor memory needs to identify a specific day to remember something special, besides promoting trade and make the economy flowing, when, scientifically, one day is one day, we call it A or B. But, curiously, that day A or B, something special happens. And it happens because we cause that effect: we make it occurs.

One of the things I like about New Year is that many people tend to reflect on how the year has gone, and begin to identify what things improve, making a list of wishes or purposes for the next year. This list contains wishes, dreams or goals to accomplish: lose weight, get a job, earn more money, be happier, etc. At the time of writing there is much hope and many good intentions. We start the year with enthusiasm and energy, but quickly, when attempts do not give immediate results, in most cases you lose that illusion and you end up abandoning. And there is nothing more disappointing than a dream abandoned.

I will provide you with a series of recommendations to create your list of wishes / purposes for the new year, as well as some tips to help you to achieve them.

Note: I prefer use the term “purpose” in order to define a wish that I want to transform it into real. For this reason, I use both terms in this post: wish and purpose.

 

Creating the list of wishes / purposes

To gain control of an organized life is advisable make plans for different horizons: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, bi / tri-annual and long-term (decade, retirement …). Although this case is the annual, these recommendations also serve for other horizons.

The list of wishes / purposes will be our plan of objectives. To define the wishes / purposes:

1) Think, at most in 10 wishes or purposes. If the list is extensive, it can be overwhelming and invites to procrastination and abandoning.

2) These objectives must be very important and decisive in your life. We must put focus on what is important and relevant, in order to avoid distraction and dispersion on wishes / purposes that contribute less to your life.

3) They must have some difficulty in order to provide you a challenge. Above all, they must be realistic. The wish / purpose is the motive. The self-improvement and personal improvement will be the motivation.

4) They must be measurable and quantifiable. If you can not measure or quantify something, you can not know the degree of compliance.

5) They should be achievable during the year.

 

To create the list of wishes / purposes:

1) You must write the list by hand, on paper. It’s like a firm of commitment. You will feel it more yours, more authentic and more personal. It will be etched in your mind better.

2) Each wish / purpose must be written in one or two words. The list must define the what, not the how. Moreover, in a single glance, you capture the wish / purpose quickly, rather than being lost in paragraphs inviting to procrastination and laziness.

3) The name of the wish / purpose has to be written in capital letters. It should highlight and draw attention.

4) If possible, the name of the wish / purpose must contain a verb. The positive verbs motivate and invite you to the action. For example, if our wish / purpose is to lose weight and have a healthy life, the name of the wish / purpose might be: “IMPROVE HEALTH”.

5) Define milestones for each purpose. A milestone or goal gives concreteness to the ambiguity of the wish / purpose. Also, it defines the amount or size you want to get. The recommendations for defining milestones are as follows:

   5.1) Define up to 10 milestones for wish / purpose.

   5.2) Their names must be as short as possible. Their names must be captured immediately, but also they also should bring meaning and concision. A limit of 5-6 words would be enough.

   5.3) If possible, enter a verb in their names. Preferably, use direct and positive verbs.

   5.4) It is advisable not to write the name of milestones in capital letters. The most important focus is the wish / purpose.

   5.5) Whenever possible, add an estimated date for fulfilling the milestone. This facilitates the commitment and motivation.

   5.6) Example of milestones: For the wish / purpose “IMPROVE HEALTH”, you can define the milestones “Lose weight 15 kg (2013/09/30)” and “Diet of 1,500 calories”.

 

To facilitate the reading and understanding of the list of wishes / purposes, it may be written up as a schema, ie defining first the milestone (in capitals), and below it and indented, each of its milestones. e.g.:

  • IMPROVE HEALTH
    • Lose weight 15 kg (2013/09/30)
    • Diet of 1,500 calories
    • Running 30 minutes 2 days per week
  • ADQUIRE KNOWLEDGES
    • Learn English Level 1 (2013/06/30)
    • Learn English Level 2 (2013/12/31)

Personally, I use mind maps, using different colors for each branch of the map. It also allows me to create drawings or pictures, which is very visual and conveys much of a glance. For example, in the field of “Lose weights 15 kg (2013/09/30)”, I can draw a caricature of myself being thin, which gives me a quick overview of what I want to get, motivating me even more. This does not mean that you can also use images in the list schema.

Whatever the format of the list of wishes / purposes, it is very important that this list does not exceed one page. The list of wishes / purposes be simple, short, concise, manageable and meaningful.

 

Use of the list of wishes / purposes

It’s very motivating to define the list of wishes / purposes. Our desires arise and our expectations are very positive. Now we have keen and energy to carry it out. But as the days go by and months, how can we keep these expectations?

The list of wishes / purposes is a plan to comply with commitments in the coming year. For the plan to succeed, it is very important to review it constantly in order to define or adjust the program with the required actions to be performed. Then just execute the necessary actions. It is not difficult to do it: it is only a matter of attitude and habits.

Here are some tips to efficiently use the list of wishes / purposes:

1) Always keep the list in a visible place. It is important that the list be visible every day, in order remember it always: over the desk, on the wall, in the bathroom mirror…

2) Write on the calendar the corresponding milestones. When you open the calendar, this reminds us what we have to comply and when.

3) Frequently check the list. When possible, or scheduling some minutes in a specific day of the week, review the list in order to remember what wishes / purposes we have started, what we’ve done, how much progress we have developed, calculate how much is pending to be done, feedback the motivation, identify problems and risks, define strategies, etc. This is the key point in order to transform the list of wishes / purposes into results. The motivation is maintained if our attitude and our desire to fulfill the commitments are strong. The review should be a habit that will transform what is written on paper into facts.

4) Visualize the future. It is very helpful attach an image to each wish / purpose or milestone, because it visualizes the end result we want. Seeing the future helps you to wanting it much more, and this will motivate us to take the actions necessary to achieve it.

5) Update progress. In every review, update the progress of each milestone. For example, draw a strip of ten squares, each of which represents a 10% of advance, or a circle divided into several portions, also representing a percentage of completion. When a progress is updated, you must fill a square or a portion. This little detail motivates very much, because you can see the existence of results, and that, little by little, your are more near to the resolution of the milestone.

 

What do you think about these recommendations? Do you use some technique or have you any tip that might help others to realize their wishes / purposes?

 

I take this post to wish you all a happy 2013, full of dreams, hopes, projects and prosperity. I wish you a magical year, special and endearing. And that wish will come true if we believe and work on it.

 

 

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