As we prepare to put a close on 2013, now is the time to build on the foundations you built during the last 12 months and create a strong plan for the upcoming year.
With just a few weeks left, it’s time to put on your “strategic thinking hat” and examine how things went for you in your business this year. What went right? Wrong? What can you improve upon in 2014?
Take these next few weeks to stop, think, and plan.
Planning does not just happen. You must dedicate time and energy to the effort. It starts with stopping the treadmill of life and work long enough to make it happen; to create the time and space to do the big picture work that sets you up for business success in the next year.
With things heating up for the holidays, you might feel you can’t make time for this exercise. But you must dedicate time to get the results you want.
How to make it happen: Minimally, you’ll want to dedicate 2-4 hours. Even better is if you can carve out a couple of afternoons or even a weekend to devote to planning for the year ahead. Turn off your cell phone. Close your door. Tell everyone you know that you are unavailable or “booked.” Then, dive wholeheartedly into making your plan a reality.
As you look back on the last 12 months, there are a few questions you may find useful:
- What have I accomplished this year?
- What am I most proud of?
- Am I on track with my plans for my career?
- Do I work in the right environment and with the right people?
- How is my attitude? Do I still believe in this “thing” I am doing? How does it fit into my life? Am I ready for a new year and a new challenge?
How to make it work: Don’t give in to the pressure to take action during this period. “Think time” should not be interrupted with action. Give it the time you have allotted, and more if needed, before you launch into action mode.
What happens in the next 12 months begins with getting a clear understanding of what you want to happen, your big picture “vision”, and then engaging others who can share your vision and support it. Begin with simple questions:
- What is your “vision” for 2014? Where do you want to go? What do you want accomplish? Be specific. Be detailed.
- How much revenue do you want to generate?
- What value do you want to create?
- How do you want to grow your organization?
- How many new clients do you want?
- What new products to you want to add – or take away?
- Who do you want to build relationships with?
- What do you want to let go of, that is no longer serving your vision?
- How will you measure your success?
- What actions can you take to get the results you want? What resources do you need to help you deliver? Remember to leverage your personal and professional strengths and opportunities.
- Set a timeline for all the actions you want to take.
With a clear view of what you want, now it is time share your plans with everyone that can help you get there. This includes your team, staff, partners, and even your family. Let them know where you are going and how they can help you get there. Be clear with your expectations, but remember to tell them what benefits are in these plans for them (money, time, promotion, etc.).
Planning is not an easy exercise. You might find you can benefit from working with a business coach or consultant who can help you identify your opportunities, to organize your thinking or your action plan, and play “devil’s advocate” as you examine questions and options as they arise. Your coach can also help you prepare for any roadblocks you might encounter along the way.
Now, take a deep breath and acknowledge that extraordinary possibilities ahead. You cannot drive results while looking in the rear view mirror. Close the door on the year that is passing and focus your attention on all that lies in the months to come.
Remember, success in life and business is a journey, not a destination, and now is a good time to be grateful for the opportunities you have yet to realize.
Happy Holidays to all! May your season be bright and your New Year filled with peace and prosperity!