The fourth quarter every year is always challenging for me. Not because of year-end deadlines or goals I’m striving to nail before the annual clock strikes midnight – the challenge is preparing for the upcoming year.
In the days leading up to each new year I evaluate my accomplishments, at least those I can count, weigh and measure, and I contemplate what I’ll attempt for the new year. Many of you go through a similar routine.
What I’ve discovered is the more diligently I work the process, the more difficult it becomes. It is a time to come face-to-face with my shortcomings and my aspirations – one is painful and the other daunting.
I was talking with my coach this week about why the process seems to be getting more difficult. One theory, as a leader gets older, we become more aware of our fleeting opportunities. There is an ancient prayer that speaks to this:
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered…”
If you accept the reality that your days are numbered, this creates new levels of urgency. Combine this with a realistic audit of accomplishments and failures plus an expanding vision for future impact, and you have all the ingredients for a demanding process.
Regardless of the difficulty, I still believe it is critical for every leader who takes his or her responsibility seriously to have a plan for how you will steward your influence in the coming year.
As I continue to wrestle with the process, I’m stumbled upon a new question – probably one I should have been considering for decades -- the biggest planning question you and I need to answer as we plan for a new year…
Who do you want to become?
Once we know the answer to this question, all that remains is to determine the activities that will move us in the desired direction.
What we choose to do really matters. I’m not sure who said it first, but I’ve long heard the quip: “We are called human beings, not human doings for a reason.” Here’s the connection to our planning process…
[tweet_box design="default"]What we DO ultimately determines who we will become.[/tweet_box]
Let’s consider a few examples…
If we engage in activities of compassion, we will become more compassionate.
If we exercise, we will be more fit.
If we are critical, we will become more critical.
The more we give, the more generous we become.
The more acts of courage we take, the more courageous we will become.
If we are selfish, we will become more selfish.
If we eliminate distractions, we will be more focused.
If we are patient with those who don’t move at our pace, we can become more patient.
If we lead with others as our focus, we will become more of a servant leader.
Determine who you want to become and plan accordingly.[GLS_Shield]