Jenny Blake

Reflect, refocus and reset: Simple tools to make 2019 your best year ever

I know it’s cliche setting new year’s resolutions. However, I do find that this time of the year is really great for taking the time out to reflect, reset and refocus for the year ahead.

It’s like that analogy - we’re so busy driving to stop and refuel.  But at some point, if you want to keep travelling, you’re going to have to stop at that service station and fuel up.

This time last year, I stopped in at the service station to setup my strategy for 2018. I’m going through the same process this year, and thought I’d share some of the simple tools and processes I use to plan my year.

By the way, if you'd prefer to listen to this article, you can tune into Episode 47 of the First Time Facilitator podcast.

Reflect using The Good Life Buckets

Instead of leaping into planning for the upcoming year, I take some time out to reflect. "Reflection?" you say, ‘Yawn!’Reflecting isn’t super exciting but it’s important to take stock of your year’s highlights and where you spent your time.

I use Jonathan Fields’ ‘Good Life Buckets’ as a tool to reflect. Jonathan wrote about these buckets in his book, ‘How to Live a Good Life’.

Jonathan isn’t actually a big fan of the idea of finding your life’s purpose. Instead, he says it’s more effective to ask yourself, “What can I do now with a sense of purpose?”

I’m a huge fan of the three buckets framework. It offers a way to look at the life you’re living, quickly and easily access what’s working and what’s not, and instantly know where to focus your energy to make things better.

Imagine there are three buckets that all of us have:

  1. Vitality bucket is all about the state of your mind and body and includes things like exercise, getting a decent night’s sleep and eating well. It also included mindfulness, being grateful, and feeling good in your own skin.

  2. Connection bucket  is to do with your relationships. Humans are hard-wired for connection, love, and belonging. If you feel a lack of connection with self, family, friends, or community, your Connection bucket is low.

  3. Contribution bucket is all about how you contribute to the world through your job, calling, purpose, creative ventures, volunteer work, and so on.

If you’d like to assess how full each of your buckets are, I suggest you use this checklist: Jonathan Fields 60 second worksheet (Three Good Life Buckets). As part of this checklist, you rate each of your buckets between 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied).

A quick reflection using the checklist and I have given myself in 2018:

Vitality = 7/10; Connection = 6/10, Contribution 8/10.

Jonathan also has rules that govern the buckets:

Rule 1: The fuller our buckets, the better our lives.

When all the buckets are spilling over – life is wonderful. However, if any single bucket runs dry, there is pain. If you have two buckets running low, you’re in a world of pain.

Rule 2: Over the course of our lives, our buckets leak.  

Our job then is to keep taking stock of our bucket levels, and circling around, filling each bucket as needed.

Let’s talk about the Vitality bucket - you may train for a marathon, and be super fit. However, once it's over, you stop running. If you’re not maintaining your fitness, the bucket leaks, and a few months down the line you may even struggle to run 10kms. What’s happened here? Your vitality bucket is leaking...

Rule 3: All of the buckets are connected

That’s why it’s important to figure out which bucket requires some attention. For example, if you're pouring 110% into the Contribution part of your life, you’re probably overworking to the point of sacrificing your Vitality or Connection buckets. Not having optimal mind, body and relationships will prevent you from doing your best work.

Once you know which bucket needs to be filled, you can then identify strategies or things you can do to start refilling them.

Other good reflection questions (that you can ask yourself, any time of the year - the more frequent, the better)

  • When were you most inspired, in the zone?

  • What projects did you really enjoy working on?

  • When you had the most energy in a conversation, who were you talking to? What were you talking about?

Reset and refocus: Jenny Blake’s Pivot metholody

This time last year, I listened to Jenny Blake’s pivot podcast episode: Jenny Blake’s podcast, ‘Set Your 2018 Pivot Strategy’

If you’re serious about making 2019 a big, productive and fulfilling year - listen to the episode above.

She talks about pivoting and how you have your best chance of success by doubling down on what’s working, envisioning what success looks like one year from now, scanning for people, skills and projects that interest you, and then setting up a handful of small experiments to let them show you which ones gain the most traction on their own.

She suggests you start out by going BIG and set a theme for your year.

My 2018 was the Year of Action.

I’ve decided that 2019 is the Year of Maintenance

Yes that sounds a little boring but I need to start maintaining the ideas, the projects, the relationships, as well as my vitality - maintaining good sleep patterns, and morning and evening rituals (on a side note, one new thing I'll do in 2019 is incorporate a a structured evening ritual, like a maintenance checklist. Michael Hyatt suggests having a start of day/end of day checklist to help you structure your time when you wake up and go to sleep. Read an article on his website about how a structured evening ritual can help you feel sharp and rested).

Once you have your theme for the year, you can start mind-mapping how that will play out in your life.

I like her idea of soul goals. These are the type of goals that you actually feel a bit silly writing down, because they’re a huge stretch. They're the type of goals that, if they actually happened, you'd start dancing wildly around the house (or your workplace).

Once you've created your mind-map and soul goals, you can start chunking it down to determine what tasks you need to do to make each of them happen.

Book recommendation to help you plan

Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’. You write down an intentional statement about how much money you want to make, by when, and how you’ll achieve this. Again, it’s all about setting the intention.

How do I remind myself of what I need to do?

One neat tool is to write down some of your goals and either screen capture them, or use a tool like Canva to create an image, which you can set as your phone's wallpaper. Every time you open your phone, you're reminded of your year, your soul goals and a couple of key actions you need to take.

That’s it! Some really cool and simple tools that will get your divergent brain thinking about the possibilities for 2019.

What's your theme for 2019? Comment below.

Upcoming event:

Need facilitation tips?

If you’d like to chat all things facilitation with the First Time Facilitator community, sign up to the free Facebook group called The Flipchart.

About the author

Leanne Hughes is the host of the First Time Facilitator podcast and is based in Brisbane, Australia. She loves to shake up expectations and create unpredictable experiences and brings over 12 years’ of experience across a variety of industries including mining, tourism, and vocational education and training. Leanne believes that anyone can develop the skills to deliver engaging group workshops.