After a busy year and especially the last few months I feel like my focus has drifted. In the last few weeks I have been doing “small tasks” and lost the “big picture”. There was no energy to make important decisions or to even consider “Should I be doing this? Is it the best use of my time?”. It was an autopilot and I just had to get stuff done because I was snowed under. But did these tasks lead to something better? Did they give me an advantage in the long run and was I walking in the direction I wanted to?
It came to the point where I thought I am becoming unproductive and demotivated to do work. When such times come it means one should stop, rest and reflect. And this is precisely what I am planning to do over the holidays. All my projects and work will be on halt so that I can get some precious time. It is important to note that I don’t see Christmas or New Year as some magically different days than any other day in the year. However, the fact that socially there is a general sense of pausing gives me a good opportunity to do the same.
This won’t be time spent idly though. It will be time utilised in a way that can help me recover and empower my future doings so that I am both motivated, don’t burn out and get to where I want to be.
People do this differently and to be honest I have generally not done it, so it’s a new thing for me. I want to focus it on several aspects of the past year and look at each of them to determine what did I achieve, what worked and what didn’t work.
Most of the time I beat myself up for not doing enough. This is not a healthy attitude and this reflection period will help alleviate it. It will force me to look and see for the things that I did get done and the ones that added value in some way. By identifying the strengths I will gain enough momentum and confidence to examine the weak parts and not feel demotivated. This is a good approach for balancing the scales and not just bashing yourself, because from that hard work some things did come out and they need to be recognised. If not, it just becomes a perpetual cycle of pushing hard, seeing it as not enough, pushing more, burning out and then again. Things got done, recognise them!
Very important though, once you recognise what works, it is time to see what didn’t. Be as objective as you can and notice if you are going into too much detail. My personal goal is to get a broad picture of the ups and downs so that I can plan my next year better with that knowledge. Not looking at the mistakes means that you will be likely to repeat them.
The structure of this process will be fairly loose for me but I still want to make sure I cover certain areas of life:
- Personal life (this includes relationships with people around me)
- Personal development (education, understanding, health, etc.)
- Professional growth (clients, projects, etc.)
- Financial development
Have you ever said to yourself or in a conversation to someone else “yeah I will start exercising more!”? Replace “exercising” with reading, eating better, resting, etc. And have you found yourself two months later remembering “oh, I really wanted to start exercising more” but you never took action. I have been in that situation many times.
There can be a few simple problems with this. First, you didn’t put a plan of action immediately when you were in the moment, motivated to do it. Second, the goals maybe were too general and too long-term for you to act on them TODAY. This is why planning is useful. We tend to blame ourselves for these problems, but the reality is that we just need a process of planning that works. Do you blame yourself when you buy a piece of furniture that you have to put together but you can’t? If you have a clear schematic with instructions you would be able to, it’s the same thing.
Because the year ahead is a limited time and we normally over-estimated the number of things that are achievable in that time, when we don’t do them we start to blame ourselves and get demotivated. Planning for the year and setting realistic expectations can make you both more productive and happy.
All of this I want to do while proactively resting. What this means is I want to do some little walks, nothing challenging, eat well, sleep enough and spend quality time with friends. All this will allow me to be more creative, focused and go through the reflection and planning process better. It will also motivate me for the upcoming year and help bring my burned out energy levels back to where they should be.
What about you?
Have you thought about this time of the year and how you want to spend it? Do you have any plans of using that time to make the year ahead better and if yes what are they?
Do you normally do new years resolutions and how has that worked out for you? Do you go through a reflection process and has that helped you or mainly demotivated you?