This is the time of year when you typically look back on the past year to determine how you fared. If things went well, you feel pretty good. If not, well…
Regardless, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s over and all you can do is accept what happened. But if you had it to do over, what would you have done differently to get better results, reduce your regrets and capture opportunities you let slip by?
As you begin 2016, are you approaching the year like an adventurous stroll in the woods? Is your plan to just start, and in 12 months see where you end up? Not concerned about back tracking or getting lost? Not a care in the world, just wandering along. The only way you might make yourself feel better is to work longer and faster—it gives the illusion that you’re on the move. But directionless freneticism is hardly a substitute for focused action.
You would be better off planning your year like you will for your vacation. You know, thinking through where you want to go and when. You’ll evaluate costs for the trip, lodging and the various activities while there. You’ll make reservations, get on the vacation schedule at work, arrange for pet care, cancel the paper delivery, hold the mail, etc. And it isn’t even the 2nd week of January!
Your career is SO much more important, so don’t be so careless with it. Take the time (and it requires time) to think about where you want to be rather than just be wherever you end up in 12 months. You know how to do it: be clear where you want it be. Set a few strategic goals. Plan the right actions and spread them over the year with timelines and deadlines. Identify the major constraints and hurdles you will face and plan accordingly.
Finally, reinforce your success by writing the whole plan on one page. Put it on your calendar to review weekly. Show it to someone who believes in you and commit to reporting to them quarterly on your progress and updates.
The point is that you don’t want to just stroll through this year. Instead, be on a mission to arrive where you want to be. On purpose. Because you will benefit, along with your family, your firm and your clients.