My January Process

Long-time readers might remember that I go through a ‘process’ at this time each year. Beginning on New Year’s Day and continuing till my birthday near the end of January, I look back at the previous year and make some plans for the coming year. This process incorporates the best features of resolutions and goal-setting, getting just specific enough to give me progress markers but not as specific as those New Year’s resolutions we all break every year.

Looking back over the twenty years I’ve been doing this, I made plenty of life progress using this technique. I found two jobs, significantly improved my professional skills, bought two houses, stayed in decent health, survived the emotional effects of losing both parents, took some great vacations, attempted a return to college, rekindled my passion for photography, reconnected with family and friends and found some love along the way. Every one of those accomplishments was the result of my January process.

Today I’ve been thinking about the past two years. I took two of the best vacations of my life, both road trips through the same cities. I made an awesome new friend and even though it is unfair to rank such things, I list her among my top two or three friends. I continued to grow a friendship that began back in high school; that awesome friend probably knows me better than anyone on the planet except maybe my wives. (Pausing for a moment while you laugh or roll your eyes).

In 2009 and 2010 my career made some big jumps in terms of responsibility and relative job security. I survived another major management change at work and became a team leader (which for me is better than an actual promotion to manager). I was elected to the local board for my union and I was invited to serve on a task force for a local service organization.

How do these things connect specifically with the decisions of my process of January, 2010?  Here is part of my post on that topic:

This year will be about finishing some things I started in the fall. It’ll also be about music, photography, travel, cooking, Italian lessons, hiking, friendship building, career networking and being totally me.

Results: That ‘thing’ I started in fall 2009 is still dragging, partly due to my own procrastination, but I recently made big progress in moving it along. Details coming later. Music, photography, cooking, friendship building, career networking and being totally me came along nicely. Without boring you with the details, I’ll just say I hit many of those goals and had fun along the way. Italian lessons? Put that off for awhile. It’s on the agenda again for next year. Travel? One trip but it was great! Hiking? Nothing happened on that one but I did hit the gym quite a bit; that was a parallel goal.

So what is ahead in my 2011?

That ‘thing’ I referred to will get resolved. My friends will hear an update within the next few weeks. It will be longer before I can explain that here. Music (concerts, bars and maybe even play some), photography (more than ever), friendship building (seeing my out of town friends more than once a year and spending more time with my local friends) are all on the list. Travel might be on hold for financial reasons but friends might be visiting me. I’ll be checking the web site for the Italian lessons right after posting this post.

In other words, many of my goals from last year are still goals for this year. But I am only on Day One of the process. There are other goals floating in my head and for this to work I need to spell things out a bit more specifically. I mentioned in a recent post that my keyword for the coming year is ‘focus.’ The keyword concept and my process concept work in tandem. My top focus has to be that ‘thing’ I mentioned. It is a gatekeeper action; everything else comes together after that thing happens. Nothing else is as important to me in 2011 as getting past that obstacle. I might explain that in greater detail later or I might not. It is personal and my closest friends know what I’m talking about.

So, there you have it. The process has begun. Updates to follow.

Thanks for visiting my blogs. Please leave comments. Tell me about your plans for 2011.

Happy New Year!!