This article originally appeared in Forbes.
Co-authored with Agata Antonow
"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet." ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Once Times Square lights up at midnight, you have 365 brand new days to pack with decisions, ideas, breakthroughs and successes. What big plans do you have for 2019?
If you’re like many high-achieving leaders, you have lots of ideas for how to fill up the pages of your planner. Before we get into the head-long rush of goals and transformations, however, there are five things you will want to jot down for yourself and a few things you’ll want to strip off your to-do list as you plan your next grand adventure:
1. Remove everything that’s just a 'should.' You may think there are some things you ought to do to get the job done, but take this as an invitation to review your planner. Is everything in there something that really needs to be on your radar?
If you’re having trouble removing anything from your list, consider what you get from each item on your calendar. If some of your plans make you feel guilty when you even consider removing them, take a look at those items. Think about what would happen if you struck each item from your planner. We often create stories about the terrible things that could happen if we didn’t do everything on our to-do list, but take the time to consider whether disaster would really befall anyone if you cut your list in half.
Consider your physiology as you look at your planner. Pay attention to how you hold your body and how you breathe with each item you have planned. Your body often provides important clues as to which plans are simply obligations and which ones are exciting because they are full of possibility.
2. Add a mentor to your planner. Sessions and check-ins with someone who can be a sounding board and source of support mean that you get a fresh pair of eyes on your life and new, better ways to succeed. A coach or mentor challenges you, encourages you and supports you on your journey. If you want to shine in 2019, this will be something you want to add to your plans.
If you don’t yet have mentors, make it a priority in the new year and start with a plan of what you might want to intentionally experience on this new journey. With the space you make available by removing “should” items, you likely have time to focus on planning a brighter future.
3. Remove anything from your plans which involves you in rescue mode. Make a practice of saying no. Instead, consider acting on what “no” represents through the lens of “yes.”
If you don’t think you are ever in rescuer mode, consider any items which feel like a reaction or which feel urgent. Anything that makes your body tense up is worth a second look in this context. Consider whether any of your plans involve actions which make you feel important or needed.
Rescuing someone else by completing their report or taking over their project can feel terrific. You may even feel you’re doing a great thing for your career by showing your skills. In reality, though, you are adding items to your to-do list which don’t belong there, and you are actually preventing those you “rescue” from becoming their own advocates and creators. Find ways to offer support and feedback without taking over for someone else. Allow others to move into their own power as you free your time for your own endeavors.
Work your way through everything on your plate and consider whether someone else could do a better job or would be a better fit for the task.
4. Add delegation to your round of planning. Once you’ve found those places where you rescue others, delegate some of those tasks — and anything else where it makes more sense for another person to handle the issue.
Work your way through everything on your plate and consider whether someone else could do a better job or would be a better fit for the task. If you struggle with this, consider why you want to hold onto the projects or do the work. Are you concerned you’ll miss something or worried the tasks won’t get done correctly? What would it take for you to feel comfortable in your body and let go of the item to someone else?
5. Add daily lists to your planner or journal. Each night, list or journal about five mindsets, relationships or things that add to your positive self-regard. Don’t just write something to be grateful about. Dig deep and get very specific about what has improved your self-perception. Keeping this list lets you keep track of your growth so you see even subtle shifts in your mindset over time.
If you’re feeling ambitious or have some extra room after removing extraneous items, add some somatic practice. Taking up a practice so you exude confidence, full attention and relaxation keeps your body in a peak, relaxed state. You are ready to act but are also open and in a state of readiness to react appropriately when needed.
I wish you a happy and prosperous 2019. My hope for you is that you continue to grow into leadership while scaling new mountaintops and accepting new challenges.