1. How’d I do?
2. What did I do?
3. What didn’t I do that I said I wanted to do?
4. How can next year be different?
The one question that doesn’t make this list but should is the following:
Do I really want next year to be different?
That question is the wringer, the one that makes us wriggle and squirm and rationalize the hell out of things.
Because truth be told, saying we want something to be different isn’t all that hard. It’s what everyone else is saying, too, which makes saying (and believing it) all the easier.
Doing something about it?
Well, that’s hard. Very hard.
Which is why most people don’t change all that much year to year. A few pounds lost only to be gained right back (and them some). A career change that turns out to be a facsimile of the previous one, swapping out one work space and set of colleagues for new ones, and perhaps a few extra dollars in the bank at the end of the month.
Until we stare down that one question and dig deep to mine the truth for ourselves about what we really really want, we should expect life to look-feel-smell-taste-and-sound very familiar.
I’m right there in the thick of this tangled mess of making progress alongside millions of other well-intentioned souls. As I survey the landscape of 2014, I see plenty of spots where I said I wanted things to be different and didn’t do what needed to be done in order to make the results come to life.
But I also see myself making a couple of key decisions and then acting on them that have produced positive returns. One was creating and launching my podcast. The other was committing to becoming better at what I’m already good at: writing, creating, teaching, and facilitating projects for brands both large and small.
Each decision has pushed me to enter unfamiliar territory that at times was dark and scary. I felt lost and alone more times than I can count. I wanted to quit and return to safer environs where everything was familiar and comfortable.
But when the desire to have something be different outweighs the pull for safety and security, you have to push on, no matter what.
The date on the calendar need not have anything to do with what happens next. Next year can be different for everyone. So can today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.
Make the decision. Then get to work.