Why You Didn’t Get Everything Done Last Year and How to Change That

The new year brings with it hope for the future but also a little guilt as well. Guilt because we look back at the previous year and think “oh I didn’t get to do as much as I set out to do.”

It happens and it’s disappointing.  And nothing reminds us more of this than looking at that unfulfilled bucket list.  Or starting yet another day with the best of intentions only to get sucked into your old roommate’s vacation photos on Facebook and then getting nothing done. We all promise ourselves that next year will be different.

However that’s quite statistically unlikely, given that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions!

So how do you break out of the vicious cycle? It’s all starts with how you make these goals. Here’ are the steps you need to finally cross off some of the most difficult tasks on your list!

Imagine next year’s Christmas letter – Every year people will send out Christmas letters detailingall the exciting trips they’ve been on t and all their new jobs/houses/kids/etc.  Whether or not you regularly write one of these, productivity guru and author Laura Vanderkam explains in her TED talk about  time management how you can use them to focus your goals. Laura suggests you imagine what you would write on next year’s letter today.  That vision includes the 3-5 key things that would have to happen for it to be a successful year. Once you have picked those things you have goals for the next year – now you just need an action plan.

Prioritize – Once you’ve picked your goals you don’t need to roar ahead, all guns blazing trying to achieve everything at once. Write out the steps you will need to take to achieve each goal and create a priority list of what is more urgent. Things that need to be started on right away, like training for a marathon, take top priority. You will need to start carving out time in your calendar for training and book your place in the race. Less important things like cleaning out the garage can wait until a later date (but this doesn’t mean you should ignore them altogether!) For an easy way to figure out how to prioritize your new goals, sign up for the FREE PDF I created for you called “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

Find the why – I wrote recently about a talk Julie Morgenstern gave, where she explained how she always used to hoard cookbooks.  And she couldn’t throw them away until she understood why she kept them. The reason — she kept them because they represented the mother she wanted to be. (Isn’t that heartbreaking?)  Similarly you can’t successfully do-over your goals from last year until you understand why you failed. Perhaps they were too big, or you didn’t give yourself enough time to do any of them or any research that would have helped. Sometimes you have to realize that maybe you won’t ever do it and toss the goal all together. We’re not all perfect, sometimes you have to let go of those goals you’ve never quite gotten around to and be OK with it. I, for instance will never learn to speak French. That’s one goal checked off by default!

What are some of your goals for 2017?

Put Yourself First This Year

When did more become better? Longer hours, bigger sacrifices, fewer hours of sleep. This is becoming the new norm for many people and even I get excited when I see an article that claims to have the secret schedule of the most successful people. But the truth is you don’t need to be getting up early to go to yoga, work a 10 hour day then get home and make a freshly-prepared home cooked meal, before you rush of to your child’s clarinet recital. I’m not the only one who has noticed this growing trend, it was a big topic of discussion at the Listful Thinking afternoon tea event and it was raised in my friend Cass McCrory’’s recent podcast interview.

Buying into the “more is more” philosophy can set you up for failure. It can lead to blaming yourself that if you just push a little more then you’ll be able to achieve all your goals. That’s not always necessarily true.

Truthfully, however, working harder can only help you up to a certain point. Beyond that it you may only get diminishing returns. This is the point  when the benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

After my appendix burst, I started taking a ‘just enough’ approach. I learned this when I interviewed Heidi Hanna, a stress expert, in my book Listful Thinking but didn’t really apply it til now. She told me to make a “just enough” list instead of bogging it down with lots and lots of to-dos. The list contains only the minimum requirements that I would feel like just enough after completing them.

The free time I have left over can be spent doing things I enjoy or that I want to work on. I find that in the long run prioritizing  my mental and physical well being, instead of just working hard all the time, has been a key part of my success. When you have more room to breath you have to more time to:

  • Think creatively
  • Be inspired with new idea
  • Concentrate on the task at hand

I’m challenging you to put yourself first this week! Make a ‘just enough list’ for today and share it with me on social media. (@ListProducer on Twitter, @ListProducer on Instagram, or here on Facebook) I’d also love to hear about the other ways you prioritize your well being.

Stop Making Lists & Go With The Flow

I love making lists as you know. I make them for anything that comes up in my day or in my life. Sometimes though, I feel that with all this planning, I’m missing out on stuff. I’m so busy making sure that I follow my roadmap and then I’m no longer living in the moment.

I was probably drawn to Cass, my website designer and marketing strategist, because she experiences this same feeling! She is an efficient worker with a bit of a type A personality like me. Just like me she feels most comfortable when every second of her day is planned.

In a recent podcast interview on The Lively Show, Cass explained how her obsession with planning was stopping her from enjoying her own life. So she set about changing her ways to give herself more time to just go with the flow! I was totally inspired by this idea and I had to share it with you. Read more

3 Reasons The Stories You Tell Matter

I love telling stories. Even if it’s just fiction. Everyday when I walk to work and I see different “characters” on the street. I always make up stories about them.

For instance, the homeless man who hangs out on the corner in front of my office – I’ve named him James. He was a Wall Street hotshot but lost it all because he was greedy. Oh and he lost his family too. His wife left him and took his daughter – the only reason he even went to work everyday.

When you were born, where you grew up, the different jobs and hobbies you had over the years, these all make up who you are. But how you present these details  can completely change how others see you. For example, when people hear I am a news producer and I write a blog on the side, they assume I’m the kind of person who never stops working. However, when I talk about my love of tea or doing yoga then I give off the impression of being very relaxed. Read more

Best Free Resources for Life Long Learning

For the first 18 years of our life we are focused solely on learning. We study, make flash cards and brainstorm new ideas. For some of us this learning goes on well into our twenties with college. But once we leave university, most of us move on from learning into the workplace and never really go back.

I loved learning when I was a kid and I always make it a point to learn something new whenever I can.  As a journalist I’m naturally curious and one of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to become an expert in many different subjects even if just for a day.   

Just because you’ve left school doesn’t mean you have to give up on life-long learning. In fact, many of the long-term bucket lists that I see include learning a language or new skill. But these long term goals tend to get overlooked because they can be quite costly or because people don’t think they have the time to achieve them. Read more