New Year’s Resolutions; not just for people wanting to shift the weight or start drinking more green tea, but a time when most of us look to reassess our business plans and start working smarter towards our goals.
New Year is the time when everyone thinks of turning over a new leaf and starting afresh. It’s quite literally out with the old and in with the new, and mentally it’s a time when people feel more prepared to take on new tasks and look to define new goals and set new targets for their business.
Even before I was working on a business, I would use December to reflect on the past year and journal about different aspects of life: professional, personal, health, relationships and financial were a few. This was a useful, and at times cathartic exercise, and something I find equally useful to do for my business and work strategy as well.
This process also allows you to make predictions about the future and reassess your directions and priorities for the year ahead.
What went well, what went wrong? What could you improve, where could you work smarter? Which courses were good investments, and which were less fruitful? Who did it help to talk with and who did you find most supportive?
In which areas could you delegate more tasks and which areas require more of your time and attention? Are there aspects you loved and elements you didn’t enjoy?
What have you learned and what changed in the marketplace in which you work?
By looking at all the good and bad points, you can make an assessment on where to spend more or less time in the coming year, what you should be prioritising, which avenues you might explore and with who you might want to keep in touch or connect.
It’s a good opportunity to really get to know your business again, catch up with where you are now and how things have changed since the start of the year.
Einstein’s definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ which is why continuing on the same track without reflecting on past performance is never a good strategy.
Set new goals
New Year, new leaf, new goals! Now that you’ve reflected on the last year, it’s time to set down the goals for the next year.
This is an exciting step. It’s where you get to dream – and dream big!
Think about your goals for the end of the year and your longer-term goals, such as where you’d like to be in five years, and write down your five-year plan. Equally, narrow your focus and write down your quarterly or monthly goals so that you have smaller steps to work towards.
This is where you need to look at financial goals, customer goals, product or service goals: How much, how many, how long etc? There will be numbers, time frames and projections, but it’s also an opportunity to note down personal goals, and goals which are indirectly related to your business.
Perhaps you want to buy a new car or treat the family to a holiday. Perhaps you have a goal to take so many weeks off this year or donate a certain amount to charity.
As well as looking at what you want to achieve, also ask how would you like to feel and what it would take in order to feel that way.
Create a Smart Plan
You’ve got the goals, now it’s time to come up with a plan to make them happen!
A smart, one-page plan is a really good way to have a quick visual of where you’re going, and it’s a good resource to have to hand when you’re feeling stuck and need a quick reminder.
At the centre of that plan, write your ‘Why’, the reason you’re doing all this in the first place. Is it for your children? Is it for personal fulfilment, or to help a certain group of people? Write that down front and centre, or put a picture there to remind you, and that will be at the heart of all your decision-making and planning.
You might create several plans: a year plan and then monthly plans. You can get creative with the layout and make them as visual or list-driven as you like.
Devise a content strategy
Think about how much content you ‘ve produced in the past year.
Emails, blogs, newsletters, web copy, adverts, social media posts, flyers or posters, business cards, maybe even a book, ebook, course, freebie opt-in, downloadable content… That’s not even an exhaustive list. Basically, when you add it all up, that’s a lot of work!
Brainstorming your content ideas, looking at diary dates and then devising a calendar for your content will reassure you that you’ve got enough content ideas to keep you going throughout the year.
A ‘PR calendar’ is a great idea to ensure you have key dates of the year marked so that you can schedule and tailor content for those times. These are days when you can promote your business or make the most of events that everyone is talking about. Think dates such as Mother’s Day and Black Friday, plus any awareness days which resonate with you and your product or business.
Nurture your network
Christmas is all about warmth: mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, log fires and the warmth of friendship and family. Well, it’s time to spread a bit of that warmth to your contact list as well.
It’s the perfect opportunity to keep your network warm without it seeming contrived or pushy. A simple Christmas greeting or wishes for a healthy and happy new year are a friendly way to stay in touch and it can also help in evaluating your little black book.
Who have you not spoken to in a while? Who would you like to reach out to again in the New Year? Who do you need to thank and who might you be able to help?
Not only is it nice to be told someone is thinking about you, but it also keeps doors open and reignites any relationships which might have gone a little cool over time.
Make a reading list
How many books do you have on the ‘will-read-one-day’ list?
It’s the time of year when authors are promoting their new books, the Christmas titles are coming out and people are asking, “What can I get you?”
Make your wish list and send it out to potential present-givers. It’s a great time to stock up on the books you want to read to give you and your business a kickstart for the new year.
And finally… Tie up loose ends
Time to finish any remaining projects, send out those remaining invoices and get all the outstanding work done so that you can start with a clean page and get started on new projects with renewed motivation come the New Year and new quarter.
We’re all inclined to want to start afresh in January and have some time off over the Christmas period, so it’s a good time to capitalise on that motivation to complete tasks and finish up those jobs we all procrastinate on!
All this so you’re prepared to get back into the groove with more gusto and motivation ready for a whole brand New Year.