In order to do a round up you have to reflect on the year gone by and in order to do that you have to record things as they happen or indeed shortly after they happened during the year. As I was particularly poor at this on here during early 2016 I’ve had to resort to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more importantly my personal hand written diary (which I incidentally didn’t write up last night)
The first half of 2016 was totally intense. A very busy work scheduled coupled with my Level 2 British Cycling Coaching course, my shoulder operation and the building of my new office all demanded an extraordinary amount of time and resource, so consequently something had to give. It was my passion that took the hit. In 2015 I managed to total just under 6,500 miles on my various bicycles and this dropped to a little over 1,500 this year. I have increased my my running from 80 to 150 year on year, but that too has been mainly in the latter half of 2016.
With targets readjusted to accommodate for all of this I’m happy to say that by the end of the year I’ve achieved 8 out of the 10 ambitious goals. More importantly I have learned some extremely valuable lessons in yearly planning so this next year should see me achieve even more but with less impact on my personal passions.
So here’s the top 3 lessons I’ve learned this year.
- Do not try to do a year’s work in the first 6 months.
- Always take time-out to reevaluate your position.
- Use at least 2 mentors.
At the end of 2015 I completed my business plan for 2016. I listened to Michael Hyatt and decided that 2016 was going to be my “Best year ever”. To all intents and purposes it really was one of, if not the, best year I’ve had in this industry and I almost certainly had the best final quarter I’ve ever had. So what went right and what went wrong.
Well first up I completed my top 10 goals of 2016 as instructed. I defined them, applied deadlines to them, committed them to writing, shared them and added milestones to keep the checks and balances in place in terms of progress. What I didn’t do was spread these out in the right proportions over the year.
By the end of April, 1/3 way through the year, I was heading towards burnout. Something was going to have to give and I had to shift the finishing goalposts for 3 out of the 10 goals. I then had a portion of work to do to re-calibrate those goals and some difficult decisions to make in terms of where my priorities lie. By the time my summer vacation arrived in August it was well overdue, but the 2 weeks I took were the perfect tonic and the business focus I attained because of them was incredible.
I spent 2 weeks in September mopping up the final fallout from the first half of the year and then focused on finishing the job at hand in the final 1/4. – It worked, thankfully.
What I did wrong here was overstretch myself both physically and mentally in the first half of the year. I overestimated the amount of energy I needed to complete certain tasks, especially when they threw up unexpected curve balls. Ultimately I did complete them, but not within the timescales I’d allocated and also at a severe cost to my personal well-being. It also had an impact on the other goals I’d set, as these were not given the full attention required to complete them as I would have liked to have done, so this left me with an subdued feeling of completion as opposed to an elated one.
It is not a nice feeling to have achieved something but not feel like you want to, or can take the time to, celebrate the achievement.
The first half of 2016 had me head down blowing out of my arse (cyclists amongst you will know what I mean) and all I saw was a huge road of tarmac required to travel along before the finishing line even came into sight. Not only did I not have time to breath, I didn’t have time to think either and therein was my single biggest mistake of the year. Having appointed 2 mentors at the beginning of the year, I had but one single evaluation meeting in the first half of the year and that was in February. It wasn’t until July when I finally “took the time, not found it” to have a 2nd meeting that I was made aware of what I was doing.
Powering forward all guns blazing was burning and I was heading for a fall. It was around this point that I became hugely aware that something was going to give and if I wasn’t careful it would be my health. Without your health you can’t do a thing so that really does have to take number one priority in my view. After taking stock of the situation a number of decisions were made to relieve the initial pressure, and then put in place a plan to recover so that the rest of the year didn’t suffer too much. Again it was abundantly clear that this year was going to suffer a little as a result, and it was my choice as to what part would actually suffer.
Health, Family, Career, Friends and Passion. and in that order. Fortunately my passion does have a health twist but it was my passion that had to go. I kept up a minimum level of fitness “Auf Sparflamme” (pilot light- just enough to keep ticking over) but I was quickly loosing the top end and consequently I was also gaining weight (although my wife did comment to say that I was now looking much healthier than I had been the previous two years). So I accepted it. My maximum weight threshold was increased, my minimum exercise levels reduced and I even changed the type of exercises I was doing so that the time constraints I had could still be used to maximum effect. I quit my 2 positions on the committee and concentrated solely my coaching. This freed up the time I needed to ensure the other elements of my life were being completed correctly.
It was this painful evaluation that saved my year, I had already achieved a massive amount in the first half of the year, but the detrimental effect of over-working was going to impact severely if I didn’t go through this process, and this segues perfectly into lesson 3.
As mentioned a couple of times throughout this blog I appointed 2 mentors at the beginning of the year. These people were chosen to enable someone from the outside to review and reflect on my progress and offer guidance on fine tuning the processes being used in order to achieve my goals. What I didn’t expect to happen was, what did happen. In the early half of the year one of my mentors was quite ill and as this person was my main contact person. I found it difficult to impose on the other as they too had a number of things they needed to achieve in their life (yes remember your mentor has a life too) so I just carried on. This compounded my headlong charge to disaster as the communication requirements to nudge me back on track were lacking. Fortunately it wasn’t too late when my mentor finally did recover enough to school me. And I use that term very definitively. I needed educating in the 2 life lessons I’ve just described above.
Mentors tend not to tell you what to do but rather they offer alternative courses of action which can lead to the same outcome. The best mentors will even use questioning to enable you to come to that alternative course of action without having to even mention to you that what you’re doing is, in fact, not working very efficiently. This is precisely what I was enabled to do and I cannot thank my main mentor enough for this.
I realised how important having a mentor was almost 7 months into 2016 and I can now tell you all, that you need a minimum of 2 because if your mentor does fall ill their skill and wisdom will need to be complimented by somebody else who is also in a position to enable you to think differently.
2016 was, personally, a very good year. I have learnt a lot about myself, and more importantly about others and the power and influence they have on how you conduct yourself. I have learnt that surrounding yourself with like-minded people only reinforces the behavioural traits you already have, and if these traits are stopping you from progressing, well guess what? You’ll continue with the status quo. Me, I’m not happy with the status quo, yes I have a great deal to be grateful for, and yes I am very happy doing what I do (in fact I love my job) but in order to improve you need to think differently and you need to be surrounded by positive influences, be that people of experiences. So for 2017 I have once again planned out my year, once again I have ambitious goals and once again I have appointed mentors; but this year I have also put changes in place to adjust my environment so that I can truly make 2017 – “The best year ever”