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The Key to a Successful New Year: Look Back Before Looking Forward
Now that we are at the beginning of another year, many people vow to lose weight, stop smoking or create more work/life balance. In business we pledge to increase revenue, improve customer service or build new strategic partnerships. Successful personal and business planning is a process. It is much more than just making some New Year’s resolutions and then hoping they come true. It requires critical thinking to create a method of ensuring goals are met, people are accountable and promises are kept. Before making decisions for the new year, stop and consider a few things. First look back at the goals for last year. Which goals did you accomplish? How were you able to achieve them? How did it feel when you triumphed? Give yourself a big pat on the back. That’s enough self-congratulations. It’s time to move on.
Now look at the goals you didn’t accomplish. What got in the way of achieving them? Did you even start down the path toward accomplishment and monitor progress or did you just forget about them? How did it feel when you realized you were not going to accomplish them? Were your goals too ambitious or did outside factors take precedence? Are those goals worth pursuing in the coming year? What will you do differently?
Reflecting on past actions (or inactions) will help you understand the results and the emotional impact of the outcomes. Using these new insights, you can:
- Create new goals. Be proactive about what happens in your business.
- Avoid the pitfalls of inaction or a conspiracy of external forces. Schedule weekly and monthly “check-in” sessions to self-monitor progress. When, inevitably, a project goes off course, your scheduled monitoring will throw up a red flag alerting you to bear down on it rather than let it fade off into a distant haze.
- Congratulate yourself with every triumph. Notice your accomplishments and take time to enjoy your successes.
- Use your successes to inspire others. By making this an ongoing process in your organization, it will encourage others to accomplish their goals.
Stop for a moment at the beginning of this New Year and spend time to assess. Look back and evaluate, then look forward and plan your successes. Have a happy and successful New Year!