How success and despair can help you for next year!

Almost everyone goes through some sort of planning and goal setting exercise during the year.  We’re now 2/3 of the way through this year and although it’s a little early to get serious about finalizing next year’s goals, it’s not too early to start thinking about it.

With that in mind, I challenged one of my Peer Group Advisory Boards with a few questions to make them think a bit.  The general idea is you sometimes need to shake your thinking up in order to get clear.  It’s rough to just jump into ‘What’s your goal for next year’ – and if those goals don’t line up with an accurate picture of your values and what you really want, you’re going to be wasting your time. 

I was prepping for a workshop recently and came across a great book – Your Best  Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler which has a lot of great ideas and a clear process to help you get unstuck when it comes to laying out the goals that are really important to you.

The overall process consists of 10 questions in a particular order, but for a shortened exercise just to stir up some thinking, I just tapped into 3 of the questions.

1.  What did I accomplish this past year?

What am I proud of?  What are the major things that I hold out as victories when I think about all I’ve done?  If you have time, this should be an exhaustive list – I challenged my clients to share the top 1 or 2 things that came to mind quickly. 

This does a couple of things for you – it starts things off with a positive note and it also helps you clarify what was important to you.  You’re proud about things that matter.  You likely accomplished other things of note, but if they weren’t as important to you, they wouldn’t come to mind…for you.

2. What were my biggest disappointments?

Obviously the extreme opposite of the first question.  Although it’s not good to wallow in negativity, it is important to honestly and candidly identify where you missed the boat.  What’s your biggest frustration?  What did you really want and mean to do that just didn’t happen?

This question also helps you clarify what’s important, but it also will help you move on by getting your baggage into the open air.  Writing down what you’re frustrated about makes it real…and also easier to deal with as something that’s in the past.

3.  What did I learn?

Finally – the last question is intended to put some perspective on things.  What were the big themes that you took away from the past year?  Achievements and disappoints happened for different reasons – what should you take away for next year (and beyond)?

As an example, my first year in business, I learned that networking doesn’t generate leads…but it’s critical for other marketing activities.  By synthesizing the take away, I was able to use that to help prioritize and plan my future efforts.

Once you’ve stirred things up with these questions, the next step is to use that to help you drive out your initial thoughts on next steps and goals.  Obviously something like the overall process in the book (and a lot more dedicated time) is critical for driving out your next year’s goals, but as a way to generate some ideas and thoughts, this shortened approach works pretty well.

How do you brainstorm your plans?  Do you use a particular approach?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

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