10 Tips to Designing 2011 - Your Best Year Ever!
By Suzanne Lyons

Exercise #1: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD! - It is far into the future and you are receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. If someone were standing up to give an account of your career (or personal life) what would you want them to say? What was your contribution? What would you be most proud of? Where have you made your mark? What have you created? Why is the Entertainment Industry (or your industry) better now than it was before because of you?

Exercise #2: FIVE YEAR VISION: 2016 - Where do you see yourself in 5 years. What would fulfill you? What would excite you? (You can also do your personal life here as well). For example, for me my Five Year Vision is: have completed five more feature films; have a TV series on the air; have my children's book in book stores worldwide and a cartoon series based on the book in production; have a home in Nova Scotia as well as one here in Los Angeles; have excellent health.

Exercise #3: THEME FOR 2011 - Your THEME FOR 2011 is not about fixing anything. It is instead more like an inquiry for your year. The context in which you'll hold the year. The glasses you'll look through. The terrain you'll explore. What turns you on? What interests you? What would you love to explore?

If I mapped this on to my entire life (all aspects of my life) what would that look like? For example, one year my husband and I took on the theme "Fun and Adventure" and it was one of the best years ever. Other examples could be "Allowing Abundance," "Partnership," "Fun," "Social Butterfly," "Health and Wealth," "Romance." It might look like "That's not me" and that is okay. It's a new territory to explore.

Exercise #4: ONE YEAR GOAL - Standing in your new THEME, where do you want your career to be by the end of the year. (This could be your personal goals as well). What is the next chapter going to be about? What is the next step in your career?

The goal is what your actions are going to be organized around. Here are a few examples from participants in last year's workshop: "I will have sold my first novel and have the advance to write the second book." "I will be executive producing a new one hour TV series." "I will have secured the $200,000 funding for my thriller feature." For this exercise I recommend three to five goals.

Exercise #5: POSSIBILITY - Take each one of your goals and write out what would be possible in your life when you achieve them. Do the exercise at least five times for each goal. For example, if you were to get that promotion at work, what would that make possible that is not now possible. Then, when you answer that question, write out what would that make possible that is not now possible. When you answer that question, write out what would that make possible that is not now possible, etc. Do it at least five times for each goal.

So much of the time we focus only on the urgency and necessity of our "to do list" and yet without spending time really looking at the possibility of our goals, our purpose and our vision, the "to do list" becomes a chore. And the actions we take are no longer fun and exciting. They no longer give us the joy we felt when we first started. In fact the actions often start to feel like a struggle instead of a pleasure. That is why this exercise is so valuable. Standing in possibility is like standing in the bigger picture of your life, and from there you will be inspired to take action and any action you take will have the results your want. Then it is effortless and fun and the obvious next step has no great drama attached to it, like "Am I doing the right thing?" or "Taking the right step?" It will be the effortless next step.

Exercise #6: DECLARATION - Now it's time to invent yourself in your speaking. Who do you declare yourself to be this year? Who do you need to be to fulfill on the possibilities of your year? A declaration requires no evidence. Your word has enormous power. A declaration is like a sacred saying. It's like giving birth to something. The moment you declare it, you are not the same person. It's like raising the bar. Write down at least three declarations.

Exercise #7: TIMELINE/MILESTONES - In order to accomplish your goal(s) and get the results you want, what timeline would you need to set up for 2011? What milestones would have to be put into place within your timeline to ensure you were moving forward? Milestones give us targets and let us know if our actions and who we are being are sufficient. They are valuable feedback. What milestones would naturally be a reflection of your goal(s)?

Get a big piece of paper and make a column on the left to list your goal(s). Then write the months of the year along the top. Write 1 month under February, 3 months under April, 6 months under July and 9 months under October.

Then write in what would have to happen by the beginning of each of those months. For example in the case of the course participant writing his first book, the milestones for his timeline might include: by April 1st have the first draft of the book complete; by July 1st he has submitted it to agents; by October 1st the book sells and by December he has an advance on the second book.

Exercise #8: ACTION PLAN - What Actions can you take to get the game in play? What are some of the things you could do this month (January)? Look at your February 1st Milestone and list at least 5 actions you can take in January to ensure you achieve it. For example, for the novel writer, his actions for January could look like this: Write 5 pages a day on the book; Research appropriate Literary Agents; Draft a query letter to Literary Agent; Start making a list of writers' organizations; Reserve website domain name.

Exercise #9: ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN - This means teaming up with one or more people so you can be held accountable for your promises, timeline, etc. It could be a quick once-a-day or once-a-week call or a weekly or twice- monthly team meeting or breakfast. For example, for years I was part of a team of six people that met every Tuesday morning for breakfast and then we reported in by email every Friday and shared what we had accomplished and what still needed to be accomplished to reach our weekly goals.

Exercise #10: VISION BOARD and VISUALIZE - With the amazing success of "The Secret" many individuals and companies have implemented the Vision Board into their annual goal setting ritual. Jack Canfield in his book "The Success Principles" suggest we use pictures, images and symbols to keep our conscious and subconscious mind focused on our goals. I now incorporate the Vision Board into my annual workshop and the participants love it. Another exercise I've included is visualizing. This practice is being used by some of the most popular career coaches in the country. Dr. Joe Vitale in his "Miracles Coaching Program" (www.mrfire.com) suggest we write out our goals as if they have already happened. It is something I now do every Friday. I pick one of my goals and write a brief story of it in the present tense and then I sit back and visualize it happening. It's great fun and it works! I took on this exercise last January focusing on having a book deal in 2010 and on July 27th I got the call from Focal Press!

Have fun with all of these wonderful exercises and have a magical, magnificent, fun filled, adventurous 2011!

About Suzanne Lyons: Co-Founder of Snowfall Films, Inc., Windchill Films, Inc. the Flash Forward Institute, and an LPA Mentor, Suzanne Lyons has over 25 years experience in television and film.