Give Me 5 Minutes, and I Will Help You Make This Your Best Year Ever

photo credit: inoc via photopin cc

photo credit: inoc via photopin cc

The four questions below will help you make this your best year ever. Grab a journal or open a new document. Then jot down some answers to these questions.

1. What Made You Proud?

As you look back, what do you feel really good about? What accomplishments make you proud? These could be related to work, fitness, personal, family, whatever. Take it in and soak it up. You did some good stuff this year!

As I look back at the past year, I’m proud:

2. What Do You Regret?

It can be difficult to look at the tough stuff. But it’s important to get some closure on the past before you start dreaming about the future.

A lack of closure can impede forward momentum. So take stock of any regrets you have. Just be honest, don’t make excuses, and get them down.

As I look back, I regret:

  • how often I was stymied by what to do next with my personal blogging and business. Too often I felt overwhelmed and filled with anxiety about what to do next.
  • that some weeks I did not publish a blog post.
  • how much time I wasted with frivolous nonsense (Facebook, needless web browsing, etc.)
  • that after losing a bunch of weight, I put half of it back on. GRRRRR!

3. What S.M.A.R.T. Goals Do You Have for This Year?

Using the above as a base from which to draw as you think about this year, what goals do you have? Make sure your goals are what Michael Hyatt calls S. M. A. R. T.: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

I think it’s a good idea to develop at least seven to ten SMART goals for the year. Following are some of mine:

  1. Speak publicly once a month this year.
  2. Get down to [insert my ideal weight] by March 1.
  3. Redesign my blog by April 1.
  4. Go skydiving by September 1.
  5. Remodel the upstairs bathroom by the end of the year.

4. What Would Blow Your Mind If It Happened?

Now it’s time to get crazy. Forget the R in SMART, and let yourself dream wildly about the future.

Why? Because, and you might just have to trust me here, there is real power in writing crazy dreams down. Simply writing them down makes them much more likely to happen.

It would blow my mind if . . .

  1. I became a New York Times bestselling author.
  2. I guest-posted for Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt.
  3. I started a membership site that hosted a bustling, creative, and supportive community.
  4. by the time my children are adults, they think of me as their hero.

(I heard about the value of asking this question originally in Todd Henry’s book The Accidental CreativeAlso, here’s a post from Todd that includes a discussion of the question.)

Nothing to It But to Do It!

All right. It’s your turn!

I challenge you to write in the comments at least one line in response to a question above. Doing so will make this year better than it would be otherwise.

~~Tweet That Thang!~~

Tweet: I want my 2014 to kick 2013’s butt! Do you? Check this out… 

Tweet: The hangover’s worn off, now what? Time to take stock and make 2014 awesome…

Tweet: This could be the most valuable blog post you read this year. Make 2014 the best year ever!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Tracie Heskett

    Prowling around on your blog today, trying to jump start my brain to do something productive (I’ve already written today’s 5 lessons, which could be part of the reason for the current state of the brain). I notice that you’ve done one of your “blow your mind” items and are working on another! Impressive! One of my “I’m proud” items is also on my “blow your mind” list – I’d like to be able to do it again. 🙂 And even though I spend some time feeling rather aimless, I notice I do have definite goals. So this exercise may prove to be helpful the next time I’m here at the computer.

    • Chad R. Allen

      Tracie, you can do it, and we need you do it! Thanks so much for browsing around my blog and taking the time to comment. Really appreciate it!

  • Anonymous

    Most of my year was one day melting into the next. I already have a good -enough life; wanting more seems ungreatful and unnecessary, when so many have so little.

    What am I proud of? I’m greatful for my secure job that covers the bills; for my warm, (reasonably) safe home I can still afford. I’m greatful my parents have each other and have enough to be ok.

    What do I regret? I do regret being immature and making a big deal out of so much that wasn’t worth it. I regret talking less, not sleeping more. I regret not taking care of more day-to-day issues more. I regret taking trips just to “take a vacation”. I regret thinking so damn much.

    What SMART goals do I have for the next year? None. I want to learn how to be happy with everything, just as it is—that will take the rest of my life.

    What Would Blow Your Mind If It Happened? Losing my job & becoming homeless; that would blow my mind in a very bad way.

  • Diann

    As I look back at the past year, I feel fantastic about my family. We have all grown closer in an amazing way. Emotional and spiritual barriers with my parents crumbled (and oh, how glad and grateful I am for that!), one of my brothers gave me a trip to Hawaii as a birthday present, and after seven grandsons, I was blessed with two granddaughters. Truly an incredible year, filled with priceless gifts.

    A 2013 personal goal kept that I almost certainly would not have even started if not for you, Chad, was a daily journal. Not only did God use this journal to tear down the walls between my parents and I; getting my emotions on paper turned out to be literally a lifesaver as I grieved the loss of a close friend. So thank you, Chad, for your Do Your Art eBook, which encouraged me to write even if I was the only one who would ever read my words. Thank you again.

    I regret the way I tended to walk by sight instead of by faith last year. First word in myopia is “my”, and “my” lack of vision led me to speak unkindly. Painful but important lessons were learned… I also regret that my vegetable garden’s growth was stunted this year ( I planted seedlings in containers I thought were biodegradable, but weren’t..i would have sworn I was in Oz, because I had Munchkin-sized carrots, banana peepers, radishes…)

    My 2014 goals are to write every single day, to memorize Scripture, to write my family in Wisconsin at least once a week, to take myself less seriously than I did in 2013.

    It would blow my mind if I could write professionally by the end of this year – not just professionally, but in such a way that others are inspired and Christ is uplifted.

    Happy 2014 to you and yours, Chad. God bless you.

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  • Chad… your authenticity is very helpful! This really motivated me to get my own personal goals done!

  • Great stuff Chad. The reflection stuff is something I have only started this year. Amazing how I tend to plow ahead and never look back. I realized that I kept setting the same goals and ending up in the same pattern. Anyone else could have seen it – but I missed it until I looked back. Great stuff and a great remind.

    • Dale, it’s interesting to me that sometimes looking back is so hard. We don’t want to, we want to just move on and get stuff done. But looking back is so powerfully relevant to looking forward, I think. Thanks for commenting!

  • Can’t wait to make my lists later today! Great set of questions.

    I know one top joyful accomplishment was working with you on the book proposal process. I can’t thank you enough.

    (And several next steps in this process will certainly be on those 2014 lists!)

    • Terrific, Gary! Working on that series with you was definitely a highlight for me. Thank you.

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  • Thank you for this encouragement. Let me know when you speak in West Michigan, I would love to come and hear you! Hearing everyone else’s goals inspire me.

    My goal is to trust my instincts and write. I have three big projects I would love to complete; a contracted curriculum with A Center for a More Just Society, book one in a fiction series, and an About Proximity Devotional as a free e-book resource…. maybe representation?

    • Making the devotional an e-incentive for blog subscriptions will no doubt increase your platform, which will make representation that much more likely! I’ll be speaking for Josh Mosey at a Jot Writers Conference at the Baker Book Store in March, I think, and again at a library in April. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted about these events.

  • Happy New Year, Chad! These are great questions to reflect on.

    I’m proud of my platform growth this year: In 2013, I had over 100,000 page views and reached 52,000+ unique people. I have decided to more tightly focus my “writing brand” on bringing apologetics knowledge to Christian parents. My post a couple of weeks ago, “65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer” was shared 900+ times, bringing 5,600 new people to my site and generating hundreds of new email subscribers. I’m thrilled that these important questions are getting in front of those raising the next generation, and answering the questions in a “family-friendly” way (easy to understand and explain to kids) will be the main focus of my blog in 2013.

    I regret obsessing over the blog at many points, losing sight of the fact I need to be doing it all for the glory of God. I’m ashamed that my passion for encouraging and equipping other Christian parents at times became a passion for growing the blog or getting a book contract. In this last quarter of the year, I have really honed in on getting my heart in the right place and will be prayerfully finding ways to continue that perspective next year.

    I have lots of goals for the year, but the most immediate one is to become certified in apologetics through Biola. I’m 1/3 of the way done and hope to finish by March.

    What would blow my mind? To eventually get a contract to write a book on apologetics for parents!

    • Love it, Natasha! I can see the clarity that’s emerged for you around how your passion meets the world’s need. Great stuff. You definitely have a contribution to make, and I’m glad you’re already doing so!

  • I am proud that I reached my goal of writing one short story a month last year, and that one of them was honored as a runner up in the Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. I regret that I have gained weight this year and much of my closet is therefore unusable. My goal is to write a novel this year. And I think I share your first “What Would Blow Your Mind” answer. 🙂 Hope this year is awesome for you, Chad.

    • Thanks, Erin! Congratulations on both your accomplishments and your honesty. Well done!

  • Great post Chad. Love the layout. In 2014 I’ve laid out my goals. One will be launching a new book and product. Day Job to Dream Job.

    • Heck yeah, that’s what I like to hear! Thanks for commenting, Kary!

  • Loved this post so much, I blogged about it at Thanks for the year in review and helping us look forward.

  • Happy New Year, Chad. Excellent post. Congratulations on all your success. Can I admit to being at least a tiny bit jealous over your trip to Switzerland?

    Here’s my list:

    1. What Made You Proud?

    I’m proud I submitted more often than I usually do. I submitted a couple of finished projects to two agents and two other projects to publishers.

    2. What Do You Regret?

    That I overwhelmed my schedule so much that my writing time this year was less than expected. Thankfully, I began putting plans into place in October to change that for 2014.

    3. What S.M.A.R.T. Goals Do You Have for This Year?

    The two most important right now, are: daily Bible reading from 8 – 8:30 a.m. and to complete my middle grade historical by the end of February. I’m a little over halfway through, so I believe I can make it.

    4. What Would Blow Your Mind If It Happened?

    It would blow my mind if I got signed by an agent this year. I’ve written six picture books; three of which are ready to submit. I’m in the process of doing some additional market research to see who would be best fitted for them. I also have two other picture book ideas started, but I really want to finish my middle grade book first.

  • Thank you for the challenge. This year I memorized the book of Ruth and presented it to audiences. I also do other lengthy portions of scripture–the book of Philippians, the first three chapters of the gospel of John. Our minds can do more than we think they can. I am 73 years of age.

    • Wow! That’s incredible! So what are you planning to memorize this year?

    • That’s wonderful, Shirley. Praying you continue to touch many lives this way.

  • jcmilligan

    Love it. I think you just created a new trend – SMAT goals without the R. What would blow your mind if… is a great statement to keep in mind for sure. Looking forward to a great 2014!

  • SMART goal: to have my full-length non-fiction book completed and ready for submission by June 1st, 2014.

  • Happy New Year, Chad! Great thoughts!

    I’ve missed your posts. Thanks for sharing your accomplishments, regrets, and goals! I’d love to hear you speak. Put the Ozarks on your agenda!

    • Thanks, Cynthia! What’s the Ozarks?

    • Um, I mean, I know what the Ozarks are, but were you referring to an event by chance?

      • I was referring to the general area. If you have a speaking event in SW MO or Northern AR, I’d love to hear you and I’d be thrilled to spread the word!

        Thanks so much for your continued inspiration. God’s using you in a mighty way!

        • Aha! Got it. Nothing on the calendar for that area, but if you know of opportunities and want to put in a good word for me, I’d be grateful. I have developed a talk on doing your art that writers and other creatives seem to really resonate with.

  • Aaron

    Goal and mind blowing: to sit down with Mark Batterson by year end and discuss a grand vision.