Practical Guide to End of Year Thinking

For the past several years I have taken a day to do something so tedious, yet therapeutic, that sets the tone for the next year. If you try it, I will guarantee you that it will help you make better decisions in the new year.

Here is what I do – I review every single meeting and trip that I took the year before to decide if I made good decisions or not. This information is used for the future as well as good data to talk with my wife and our GiANT team about making decisions that affect time or money for the next year. Here is how I specifically do that:

1. Reviewing Nights Away/Travel – I literally take a piece of paper and write down how many trips I took in the year and study it in terms of nights away from my bed/family so that I can make decisions for trips in the future.

For instance, I took 39 trips and was away over night for 85 nights with another 30 being dinners or engagements through the year locally, which is roughly 32% of the year. That is about normal for my life, though not ideal when it comes to my family. In essence, that is 3 nights a week that I am either speaking, traveling or meeting outside of my home with other people.

What about you? How much time have you been away and does that need to change?

2. Reviewing the Quality of Time Away – Was the trip worth it, literally, both in time away in the   results accomplished?

Out of my 39 trips I found that seven were not effective. Out of those seven, I thought two of them may not be worth it when I said yes, but did it anyway and was completely surprised by one not being worth it. That means that I assumed the other four were worth it, but over time believe them to be a waste of time and energy or that another GiANT should have gone instead of me.

Take a look at your trips and be honest about whether you should have gone or not.

3. Reviewing Every Meeting You Had Last Year – This might sound imposing, but it isn’t as bad as you think. You come to realize that you meet with the same people a lot of the time. So, I looked at each person once and separated the columns into three areas.

A. Was it worth it (would I meet this person all over again?)

B. Not sure of the value yet

C. Not worth meeting (what was I thinking?)

The good news is that because I have done this year over year I know what a good meeting is and my “Was it worth it” column is quite large. It includes client meetings, speaking events, time w some of our GiANTs or my biz partners, etc.

For those where I am not sure, I usually put an arrow pointing to either the Worth it category or not worth it column as I am still trying to decide. There were 19 in all that I am unclear as to whether they were worth it or not.

Lastly, my not worth it column doesn’t mean that the people are evil or that the meeting was awful, but rather, it means that it was a combination of the wrong person at the wrong time for the wrong reason. For instance, I have one meeting that needed me to be a bit more organized before I came, while saying yes to another meeting I absolutely knew I should say no to, but didn’t. All in all, I had 16 people or events that I should have said no to in the last year. Not bad all in all. I went further and added it up to around 3 days of travel with 44 specific hours wasted on these “not worth it” meetings. That is .005 percent of my year. Again, not bad.

What about you?

4. Having the Right Mindset – As I write this it is important that you understand a few things. I am not judging these people as being unimportant or that I am so important that they wasted my time. What I am actually doing is looking at my own decision making and asking myself why I took these meetings and where I could actually place my energy in the new year to be more effective for my team. It is about leading yourself so that you are more effective for others.

Here, then, are some of my thoughts as I review the “What was I thinking list”:

  • On one meeting I was rushing it as I had just moved back to OKC and was feeling like I need to connect quickly. If I had waited for a year I would have had more perspective and the meeting would probably have been more effective.
  • This one person is very focused on themselves and I met with them because of a friends pressure to help them. They were not reaching out for help and thus it was a waste of time.
  • Three or four of the meetings on this list could and should have been delegated to one of our other GiANT HQ team members.
  • One guy I met with about our 5 Gears book promotion was a bit of a shyster and I knew it and should have just wished him well. Instead I scheduled 2 more meetings just to see if what he was doing could help with our promotion. I knew it was a scam and it ended up being just that. I could have saved my self some drama by just saying no.
  • One group I worked with is simply not responsive and I realized that I have been trying too hard to please them (which is an old issue in my life). My trying to please them caused me some emotional turmoil and hours of conversations with my wife, which I would have loved to not have had this past year.

I hope you get what I am trying to say.

For me and our world we pray for ‘people of peace’. People who are for us and would allow us to serve them. When they aren’t people of peace then we just walk away and try not to allow it to affect us. This process can help you see who these people are or aren’t in your life.

Like I stated, this is a very practical exercise for you to review the year. It will cause you to be more intentional in your future. For me it has been a great use of 3 hours of my time.

Get ready for the new year correctly and your new year will be more fresh than the last.