“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” — Alan Lakein
We are now in the last quarter of the year. Business leaders are sprinting to achieve the rest of their targets and goals for 2022. Soon, it will be time to plan parties, vacations, gifts to buy, and all the festivities that the end of the year brings. It is also time to start planning for the year ahead.
Progress requires planning. Success isn’t something that happens overnight or by accident; it is the result of years of hard work, perseverance in doing the right thing, and improving yourself. Effective leaders and high achievers think and plan ahead. They set goals for themselves and their businesses and worked out a concrete plan that could get them there. They think up strategies and project possible timetables. They don’t just react blindly to things as they pop along.
We’ve heard it far too often: failing to plan is like planning to fail. Without a plan, you and the people you lead are left in reaction mode, instead of being intentional about moving forward. Instead of taking charge of where you go, you are left too busy putting out fires and scrambling to fix things as they get broken.
Even when things are currently changing, it doesn’t mean your plans and strategies are useless—they just need adjusting.
Not even the perfectly laid out plans come to fruition to the letter. There are always unexpected things that life will throw at us. To an extent, we need to react to those things and act accordingly. But a plan keeps us grounded and reminds us of our mission. It provides us with a ready blueprint that just needs to be tweaked.
Here are four things that could help you plan for the year ahead.
Take an honest look at where you’re at now. What does your financial reality look like? What is the status of your current goals? How are your business products/services currently faring? What about your systems? What about your family and your team? What are your people thinking?
Get honest feedback from your team and your family. What do they need from you? How were you able to treat them in the past year? What do they expect for the year ahead?
You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback, but having all the data in front of you helps inform your decisions. It helps you assess what kind of leader you are now and what kind of leader you want and need to be moving forward.
Look back on your “Why”. What are the most important things you have focused on this year? What’s your progress on your mission? Is your current purpose, mission, and values still relevant and aligned to your present context and your “why”? Or does it need some updates?
It is alright to change your mission and values. Our priorities change the more we experience new things and stretch ourselves. This is the perfect time to make those updates, especially if they are for your business. You don’t need to update it too frequently or drastically, but you can tweak it as many times as you have to.
What were some goals you had to put on the back burner this year or didn’t get around to completing? Around the end of the year, take some time to reflect on why you weren’t able to accomplish them, and what you plan to do with those goals moving forward. Do they need tweaking? Are they no longer relevant to your context? Or will you carry them over to the next year? Are you going to be prioritizing them next?
These are some things you can ask yourself. Remember, it is okay if some of your goals are not completed. It doesn’t make you less of a person. But reflecting on why you weren’t able to achieve these goals helps you gauge what you could improve on. Is it learning new skills? Mastering old ones? Updating your system? Is it your attitude and mindset?
Now that you more or less know where you are on your journey, it is time to think about where to go from there. This is the exciting part of planning for the new year. It's the one that gets people feeling hopeful and motivated. Thinking about “What’s next?”
Once you’ve set your goals, it is time to plan how to get them done.
What resources and skills do you need to accomplish them? How will you allocate your time, energy, and finances for that?
What obstacles will you most likely encounter when working on those goals? What contingencies will you put in place to overcome them?
Who are the people you will need to help and support you in attaining your goals? What roles and talents will you need to attract to get things done?
Most importantly, what habits should you build in order to bring yourself closer to your goals?
What kind of person and leader do you envision yourself to be after accomplishing your goals?
These are some of the important questions you can ask yourself. It helps to record these reflections and plans in a journal, to remind yourself when you need them most.
Here’s to finishing this year strong and looking forward to a brilliant year ahead.
Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.