Calendar year endings and beginnings are often out of kilter with corporate Financial Years, however they are still a useful tool for us to use. In our busy lives, time for reflection seems limited and if we are not careful we can miss the chance to grow year by year. Do we want one year of experience twenty times or twenty years of experience? The answer to the latter is to make each step along the path a winner by maximizing the learning we gain each year. Here are five steps to take us forward for a great 2016.
Step One – Capture The Good
Rather than beating yourself up and remonstrating with yourself, switch mental gears and capture the things which you did well in 2015. What wins, no matter how small, did you have? What projects did you complete? Which clients did you acquire, retain or grow? Create a list of the things that worked that were new developments or were established things done in a different, better way? Reflect and then write them down.
Step Two – Nominate the Better
The good thing about 2016 is you get to keep doing many of the things you did in 2015 but this time with the benefit of hindsight. We can apply the concept of kaizen or continuous improvement to all that we do and look for leveraging small gains over time. We may have found there is a better way of doing things through our experience, so 2016 is the time to try again.
Step Three – Make The Second Effort
We often have too big an appetite for projects or pieces of work and we can’t get them completed. We have made a start and we now need to marshal the resources – time, people and money - to get them done. Decide the new priority order of projects to be completed in 2016 and start working on getting them done this time around. In sports, coaches look for athletes who don’t give up, and make that second effort, after the first one failed. Choosing priorities, while hard, is necessary - we can’t do everything but we can do the most important things and we can do them in the order of priority.
Step Four – Set Goals
Perspectives do change and last year’s goals may not be as relevant this year. Time has a habit of overtaking us. Having reflected on what was working well, what would you do better this time and which projects need attention, it is time to get your goals down on paper. Writing them down has some weird magic about it and increases the clarity and commitment to getting them done. Trust me, you won’t remember them, so write them down.
Step Five – Commit Yourself
Goals once defined are not completed and need that final stage - execution. Set the timetable for the completion of the goals and align the team behind their achievement. Break the work down to bite-sized pieces and check progress regularly to keep things on track. Sounds easy, but often the reason we don’t get everything done is we lose our way through being overwhelmed by a bunch of stuff out of left field. We need to keep ourselves and our people moving forward regardless. Stuff happens, as they say, but we need to regroup and carry on anyway. The key is making a personal commitment to get it done, no excuses accepted.
These five steps are not difficult to do and the beauty of doing them is we can rearrange our workload in a way which brings mental freshness to our daily work routines. The start of a calendar year may be an illusory time trick we play on ourselves, but why not make it work for us? Our lives are so much more complex today, more interconnected every single minute of the day. We need bigger and bigger efforts just to keep up. We should use the start of the calendar year as a reinvigoration for a better business year – let’s make it a mental trick in our favour!
1. Capture the good
2. Nominate the better
3. Make the second effort
4. Set goals
5. Commit Yourself