When the month of December finally arrives, are you like me where you become excited to start planning for the coming year? Do you let the idea of a fresh start and renewed focus wash over you as you reflect on past successes and failures—enthusiastically greeting a clean slate? Or are you typically looking back wondering how it went by so fast with little evidence of improvement or growth? Do you get a sense that something happened along the way that knocked you off track and you really never recovered?

The New Year introduces a shared experience where the entire world immerses itself into declaring new aspirations and opportunities. Collectively, we each want to do more, do it better, and with greater success.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

I’m an avid goal-setter, list-maker, and action-planner. I have reams of notebooks, spreadsheets, post-its, and PowerPoint’s full of reminders and action steps outlining where I’m going and what I want to achieve. Some of this may be a direct outcome of my obsession with office supplies, while the rest is more likely due to the marked success I’ve achieved by documenting plans and holding myself accountable. Simply put – putting pen to paper just works.

While the specifics of my plans cover a multitude of personal and professional goals and objectives, I get to my final roadmap by asking myself some basic questions that align with my guiding principles. These questions help me to stay the course throughout the year but also navigate me to greater results in the end. They become my ‘personal compass.’

For this exercise, I want you to go through the list below and not only ask yourself the compass questions but also document the how. You’ll be able to see the areas where you’re excelling, versus those gaps where greater care and attention may need to be applied. The end result should give you a baseline of where and how to begin your forthcoming plans.

  1. Am I inspired?
  2. Am I motivated?
  3. Am I happy?
  4. Do I practice genuine gratitude every day?
  5. Do I take the time to reflect?
  6. Am I aware?
  7. Am I present and in the moment?
  8. Do I exercise my curiosity?
  9. Am I continuing to learn new things?
  10. Am I listening to others?
  11. Is my attitude positive?
  12. Am I clear on who I am and what it is I want?
  13. Have I redefined success in a way that’s meaningful to me?
  14. Do I focus on results?
  15. Am I taking action every day?
  16. Have I learned from my failures?
  17. Do I take enough time to rest and recharge?
  18. Do I celebrate my successes?
  19. Am I staying connected?
  20. Am I disconnecting when necessary?
  21. Have I given back?
  22. Do I share with others what I create?
  23. Am I evolving?
  24. Am I keeping an open mind?
  25. Am I owning it?

Feel free to modify the list with questions that resonate with you. Return to the set at regular touch points throughout the year so you can make adjustments to your actions when and where you need them. Schedule these touch points now so you are sure to take care of yourself, and your plans, along your journey.

“Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” – Stephen Covey

When the end of 2015 arrives, you can look back knowing you gave it your all with a healthy respect for yourself and your time. With the application of your compass questions, your list of successes and results will be longer and more meaningful.

How about you? Do you have other questions or techniques you apply to drive better results as you navigate the year? Share them below.

Image Credit: ©iStock.com/Garsya

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