Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year's Inventory

Now that we've all failed our New Year's Resolutions, we should focus on something genuinely productive. I don't do New Year's Resolutions. Culturally we rarely seem to set them in earnest so I find them to be of little use.

Instead, do a New Year's Inventory. Look at different aspects of your life and assess where you really stand. Do you do well at these things or do you do poorly? Is your performance so low that you should be striving to improve or so high that you should be mentoring?

Consider the following:

  • Family
    • Are my family members adequately cared for?
    • Am I a positive influence on their lives?
    • Do I distribute my attention appropriately?
    • Are there strained relationships I should be mending?
  • Friends
    • Do my friends add value to my life?
    • Are they trustworthy in intention, word, and deed?
    • Do I provide the support they deserve?
    • Am I a positive force in their lives?
  • Career
    • Am I performing at the level I should be?
    • Am I doing what I can to improve my career?
    • Can I be doing more to derive more satisfaction/less stress from my job?
    • Do I cultivate the respect of my boss/peers/subordinates?
  • Finances
    • Am I meeting my financial obligations?
    • Am I confident about the next few month's finances?
      • Next year?
      • Next decade?
    • Am I prepared for a few months of no income?
    • Have I prepared to provide for those who depend on me in my absence?
  • Health
    • Am I eating well? How do I know?
    • Am I active enough?
    • Am I getting sufficient rest?
    • Am I taking steps to prevent illness and disease?
    • Am I managing stress and negative emotions well?
All of those are off the top of my head. You should add the categories and questions that are relevant to you. The first year you do it it is informative. Doing it every year tells you what you're doing with your life.

It's critical to be honest with yourself, not just about your shortcomings but also about your strengths. Identifying where you should improve is the purpose of the exercise but if you don't identify your strengths it's difficult to feel empowered in tackling the other challenges.