With silly season almost upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday hype – and miss out on the opportunity the end of the year offers to reflect on the past 12 months and use them as a springboard for 2017.
“Closing-off” the past from a personal and business perspective, and setting solid commitments for the year ahead will ensure you’re able to move into 2017 with a different sense of clarity and purpose, keeping you on track from the very beginning.
2017 has been a year of challenge and change for most South Africans. The combination of political and economic turmoil, the social unrest of #FeesMustFall, rising prices, water shortages and everything in between have left many people stretched both personally and professionally, and wishing away what’s left of 2016.
In times like these, it’s easy to forget what you’re working towards – or for – especially in the context of your family and business. When faced with extreme pressure or uncertainty, we typically move into ‘survival’ mode, which sees us just trying to get by as opposed to remaining focused on the bigger picture or plan we had previously put in place for ourselves.
The problem with this is that it becomes a pattern, where nothing ever gets better, and we remain trapped in the belief that we are victims of circumstance. If you’re an entrepreneur, this can effectively mean that you become your own “glass ceiling”.
Changing this requires taking a different approach – both in terms of reflecting on the past, and projecting yourself into the future. The approach needs to be structured and deliberate, allowing you to reconnect with the original intention behind any “adventure” (such as a new relationship, your job or starting your own business), and then objectively review where you are in order to recalibrate your way forward.
These five steps can help you to achieve this:
1Set aside specific time for the process and honour this commitment
While this might seem counter-intuitive as a first step, most of us get so caught up in day-to-day “stuff” that this exercise usually ends up relegated to the “to do” list, as opposed to getting done.
Commit time to the process. If you’re an entrepreneur, take yourself off site to honour it. Make arrangements with your team so that they function without you for the day. Advise clients that you are not available.
2Objectively revisit the past 12 months – month by month
Highlight key events/ tipping points/ milestones that month – both positive or negative. At this point all you need to do is write them down. Don’t judge them or get hooked by them. If there aren’t any for specific months, that’s also okay.
3Review the highlights – month by month
Take your time to objectively analyse each of these.
- What happened?
- Was it intentional?
- How has it affected you?
- And your business? What has it changed?
- What have you learnt from it?
- How does it relate back to your original plan for yourself?
- And for your business?
4Look for patterns
Once you’ve gone through all of the above, review them again from the beginning – this time looking at them from a bird’s eye perspective.
Which are similar? Which are related? How? Why? What does this tell you about yourself – and about your business? What patterns can you change? What patterns should you change? Now prioritise these.
5Reimagine the year ahead
Start with the big picture. This time next year, where do you want to be? Identify your top three goals. Note that they should not all be money related. Focus on purpose instead – the ultimate outcome you’re trying to achieve; your 2017 legacy.
Now identify how you will come closer to achieving this month by month. Begin in January 2017. What do you have to do internally and externally to create the foundation for you to achieve your goals? How will you build on this month to month? Very importantly, when will you check in to actively review your progress? Once complete, you will have created an action-oriented action plan that you need to commit to.
Remember that it’s not enough to just have “a plan”. While it’s a start, your plan will remain just that unless you bring it to life yourself. Rather make this your “resolution” for next year – as opposed to your New Year’s resolution.
You can additionally enlist the help of a life coach to help you refine and honour your plan – delving deeper into the patterns which are obstructing you, and reinforcing those which are empowering you. In this way you’ll create the perfect platform from which to enter 2017, ensuring it is meaningful and fulfilling for you.