Calendar year endings and beginnings are often out of kilter with corporate financial years, however they are still a useful tool for us.
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 20 times or 20 years of experience?
The answer is to make each step along the path a winner by maximising the learning we gain each year. Here are five steps to take us forward for a great 2016.
Step 1: Capture the good
Rather than remonstrating and beating yourself up, switch mental gears and capture the things that you did well in 2015. What wins—no matter how small—did you have? What projects did you complete? Which clients did you acquire or retain; or with which did you grow a relationship?
Create a list of the new developments or established things that worked in 2015, which were done in a different, better way. Reflect, and then write them down.
Step 2: Nominate the better
The good thing about 2016 is you can keep doing many of the things you did in 2015, but with the benefit of hindsight. We can apply the concept of kaizen (continuous improvement) to all that we do and look to leverage small gains over time. Through our experience, we may have found there is a better way of doing things, so 2016 is the time to try again.
Step 3: Make the second effort
We often have too big an appetite for projects or pieces of work and can’t get them completed. We have made a start and now need to marshal the resources—time, people and money—to get them done.
Decide the new priority of projects to be completed in 2016 and start working on getting them done this time around. In sport, coaches look for athletes who don’t give up but, instead, make a 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 order of priority.
Step 4: Set goals
Perspectives do change and last year’s goals may not be as relevant as this year’s. Time has a habit of overtaking us.
Having reflected on what was working well, what would you do better this time? Which projects need attention? It is time to get your goals down on paper. Writing them down involves some weird magic; it increases the clarity and commitment to getting them done. Trust me, you won’t remember them, so write them down.
Step 5: Commit yourself
Defining goals does not equal their completion; a final stage is required: execution. Set a 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.
It sounds easy, but often the reason we don’t get everything done is we lose our way through being overwhelmed by many things coming out of left field. We need to keep ourselves and our people moving forward regardless. The key is making a personal commitment to get it done, with no excuses accepted.
These five steps are not difficult to carry out, and the beauty of doing so is that we can rearrange our workload in a way that 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 to make an increasingly bigger effort just to keep up. We should use the start of a new year to reinvigorate ourselves for a better business year; let’s make it a mental trick that works in our favour.