While the New Year brings boundless opportunity and the possibility of a fresh start, most of us find ourselves starting the New Year without a clear plan. Why? Because while a New Year offers the opportunity for a fresh start, we also drag the past into the future with us. What I mean by this is that the longer that we stay in the same job, the more likely it is that we see that job from a stale perspective. There is old saying that goes something like this; “Do you have five years of experience? Or the same year five times?” While it is easy to see that a peer or another employee has started to take their job for granted, it is much harder to see this challenge in ourselves.
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. When we have a ‘stale’ perspective the questions we are asking are often not helpful. In other words, a salesperson could continually ask “Why can’t I sell more?” or a manager may ask “Why can’t I find more engaged employees?”. While neither of these questions is inherently bad, they are also not helpful. This is because they are too often asked from a stale perspective. We are not really seeking an answer. We are actually seeking to change our circumstances without changing the only person that we can change – ourselves. Which leads us to the best question I have ever come across when I am seeking to plan the next year.
Here’s The Question: Why should I be hired to do this job next year? What if you fired yourself? I don’t mean literally – I mean as a mental exercise. What if did not have your job and you had to apply for your job right now? How would you look at things differently? Why should you be fired? What are the reasons why you are fireable? How have you missed expectations in the past year? What skills have you neglected to develop? What has happened that should not have? What opportunities were missed? Why should you be re-hired? Now that you have fired yourself, you will need to get yourself rehired. When you start a new job you have to interview for it. Pretend that you are preparing for that interview. Ask yourself what you learned last year that may you more capable in your job. Do you have the qualifications to achieve the objectives of the job this coming year? Also, when you interview for a new job you have to provide references. What would your boss, customers and peers say about your performance this year? You may want to rewrite your job description. What do you need to change in terms of your skill, behavior or attitude? What do you need to optimize that you have been doing the same way for some time? What could you eliminate? What do you need to do a better job with? Why do you want this job? What is your commitment as you start your new job? You need to accept the job. If you are going to accept the job this year, then you must be clear about what you are committing to. If you have done this exercise properly, then you should find your excitement level and motivation is higher than before you started this exercise! Remember when you started this job – you were excited. There is no reason why you cannot recapture that excitement as you plan for the New Year. Make sure that every year is the best one yet by making every year a brand new start. So go ahead – fire yourself.