First up, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s been a very unusual year for me, and the support and encouragement I have recieved along the way, has been invaluable – Thank you very much.

For as long as I can remember (age nineteen I think), I, like many others, have used the closing of the current year to look back over what I have achieved. And with a fresh, spanking New Year looming, I have also taken the opportunity to think about what I want to achieve in the year to come. It was always a fairly casual affair, where I set specific goals for following year, until 2009, when I attended my first, and perhaps THE first, ‘Let’s Make 2010 The Best Year Yet‘ event.

This is a FREE, annual event hosted in London by David Shephard and the Performance Partnership. I first met David when I attended his Re-engineering The Self course back in 2003, and subsequently went on to complete Practitioner and Master Practitioner Certificates in Neuro-Lingustic Programming (NLP), Timeline Therapy and Hypnosis. David’s teachings are extraordinary; I don’t think a day has gone by since completing his courses that I haven’t used something that I learnt during them, over ten years ago – amazing! For obvious reasons I wasn’t able to attend the event this year, however, I spent some time on Sunday going through a similar process.

I was reminded of how important and beneficial it is by another of my favourite bloggers and authors, Chris Guillabeau, over at the Art of Non Conformity. Chris spends a WEEK every December completing his annual review which incorporates what he’s aiming for during the year to come. Chris is very transparent about how his year went and shares his thoughts about it openly on his blog. He also shares the process he follows complete with a downloadable spreadsheet to record your goals for the coming year.

There are elements of both approaches that I like, and the process I now follow is a mixture of the two. I would normally review the actual goals I set the previous year; this year, however, the journal I used to record them in last year is safely packed away in a box at my parents’ house in Leicester, so I’m going from memory. First, I ask the following questions in this order and write down everything that springs to mind:

1. What didn’t you achieve that you set out to?
2. What did you achieve that you set out to?
3. What did you achieve that you didn’t set out to (this could be good or bad, list both)?

What Didn’t I Achieve That I Set Out To?

I won’t go through every last detail, the biggies were:

I procrastinated over launching this blog from December 2012 until June 2013 – my goal was to launch it in January!! This had a knock on effect to all of my goals related to the blog in terms of visitor numbers, people that joined the mailing list, etc. It also impacted my fundraising goal for Room to Read. In terms of cycling around the world, I didn’t cycle up Mont Blanc, my budget is about 50% above my target of £10/ day, I didn’t interact with the locals as much as I could have, my goal to learn languages as I travelled fell by the wayside (although my Turkish is coming along sloooowly), I didn’t make it through Iran or into India, and I lapsed with my abstinence from alcohol.

What Did I Achieve That I Set Out To?

Before leaving my job I was well above my sales target and as a result my goal for saving money for the journey was exceeded. Although late, I did launch this blog and wrote a new post on average once a week. The visitor figures are alright and without much promotion or direct encouragement I have raised £700 for Room to Read. Probably the biggest achievement is actually following through with this world tour. The blog was late because around April time I bottled it (read ‘sabotaged it’), and called the whole thing off. By following through, I have become a proficient bicycle tourist and have faced my fears on a regular basis. This has caused me to grow far beyond my expectations. My exercise and meditation goals have remained constant.

What Did I Acheive That I Didn’t Set Out To?

I have experienced some wonderful acts of kindness; Tony trusted me with his house and everything in it on my first night in foreign lands, Chris invited me to spend the night on a naturist retreat, Pascal and Beatrice put me up on their farm in southern France, I partied with a group of Moldavian’s just outside Venice, stayed in the local government officials residence after being fed and looked after by Erdinc, Kaya and Çagri in a Turkish village, and ate breakfast with Sadiye and her family a few hundred miles down the road. Not to mention the many generosities extended by the wonderful people I have met everywhere I have gone.

I had a terrifying experience with a wild beast in Solvenia, met Leon Logothetis in Zagreb as he circled the globe on a vintage motorcycle, I cycled over Grand St Bernard due to a slight problem following signs, and on the very same day, I kind of gave birth in Aosta A&E, definitely didn’t plan on doing that! Oh, I grew a mighty ginger moustache as wide as my face and an afro to match. And I started writing a book.

The Differences That Makes THE Difference

Looking at the goals I did achieve I write down list of reasons why I was successful; beliefs, attitudes, traits and behaviours that I feel were responsible for succeeding. I then look at the goals I didn’t achieve and write down a similar list detailing why I did not achieve the desired result. By comparing the lists I can then see the differences that made THE difference. I’m left with a list of beliefs, attitudes, traits and behaviours that I can inject into future goals. I also have a list of things to look out for, warning signs if you like, that I need to refocus to get back on track.

Then, for each of the categories listed below, I ask myself:

1. What didn’t I do well?
2. What did I do well?
3. What will I do differently in the next year?

– Health and fitness
– Personal development
– Friends and family
– Financial (income), Financial (saving), Financial (giving)
– Spirituality
– Career/ work projects
– Travel

The next step is to broadly think about what I want to happen in the coming year, and I really like Chris’s idea about setting a theme for the year. For instance, this year was a year of ‘transition, new challenges and discovery’ for me. I think about the things I want to do differently, the things I want to keep doing, and the things I want to do more of. These are general behaviours, for example, I’m naturally introverted, and next year I want to interact more with the locals I meet, so I aim to be more outgoing when the opportunities present themselves.

The final step is to write goals for each of the categories listed above. I’m currently updating my goal-setting-and-getting process, and will share it in the next post.

In the meantime, feel free to share how your year went in the comments  below.

Thanks again for your support, I hope 2014 is your best year yet.

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