From Where I Sit – Sounds Like a Plan

Welcome to 2012! Now that we’re a couple of weeks in, are you still filled with hope and promise?or have you decided that It’s same old, same old?

Do you do the passive thing, reading through all the year-end summaries? Do you love the annual reminder of 2011’s top stories? There is a list for everything, from best books and movies to top celebrity scandals.

One of my favourite lists: in a tradition going back to a New Year’s Eve party 37 years ago, Lake Superior State University publishes an annual list of words and phrases to be banished. Do you agree that amazing needs to go? How about baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance? Between 800 and 900 words have made the list since 1976.

Or maybe you took a more active run at the new year by making resolutions. You might be one of the minority who actually makes a sustained change. You haven’t suffered the bitter taste of failure. You’re not cynical. Yet.

Resolutions fall into two neat categories: stop this or start that. Stop smoking, eating trans fats, watching brain-atrophying TV. Start exercising, eating colourful vegetables, helping little old ladies across the street. Stop hating the boss, texting 24-7, driving too fast. Start bringing some numbers down (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, waist size) and others up (bank balance, books read, hours slept).

I subscribe to many author and marketing blogs through Google Reader. Without exception they all view this as the perfect time to analyze what did and didn’t work in 2011. And adjust accordingly. The best plans I’ve seen (including my own) are specific and measurable.

Maybe It’s semantics, but I prefer to call my plans ?intentions? rather than resolutions. Too often resolutions are mocked and associated with failure. The word intention implies a focused mindfulness. Because I’m still building a social media presence, I’ve set daily and weekly targets for blogging, tweeting, and commenting. And so far, so good.

But I also know that intentions can be misguided, incomplete, or plain old wrong. Smart cookies know that plans need to be revisited and revised.

This year I suggested a new twist to our family tradition of writing down messages and good wishes to one another. Following the lululemon manifesto of goal setting, I created a goals sheet for each of us. Everyone took a few minutes to write down at least two goals in each of three categories?personal, health, and business?and to assign a timeline of one, five, or ten years to each goal.

Research suggests that very few people write down their goals, but that those who do so improve their odds of success. Will 2012 be the year you invest time and effort in determining your future? Whether It’s a goal, an intention, or a resolution, it sounds like a plan from where I sit.

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