Three Questions for the New Year
With the new year rapidly approaching (perhaps it’s already arrived by the time you read this article), it’s time to focus on the future and ask yourself three questions.
- What specifically do I want to accomplish in 2012?
- How will I do it?
- How will I know that I’m on the correct path for accomplishment?
Do you want to grow your business revenues and profits? Do you want to increase your income? Perhaps you want to expand your territory, develop key accounts, or grow your customer base. Maybe you want to be able to accomplish more…in less time so you’ll have more time for hobbies or to be with your family.
Whatever your goals, they must be specific. You can’t formulate plans for accomplishment if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to accomplish. More importantly, you must be clear about why those accomplishments are important to you. And the “why” must be significant. The motivation to pursue goals that have superficial meanings or only provide short-term gratification fades quickly. Additionally, your various goals must be compatible with one another. When two goals are competing for the same resources, especially your time and energy, one or both will suffer. For example, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to accomplish the goal of “having more time with your family” if you’re staying late at the office and working weekends to accomplish the goal of “furthering your career.”
Once you’ve decided exactly what you want to accomplish, you must determine how you’re going to do it. And the plans for accomplishment must be no less detailed than the goals themselves. For each goal, start with the end results—the accomplishment of the goal—and work backwards, identifying the sequence of steps that will lead up to that accomplishment. Some steps will overlap and others will occur concurrently. Nevertheless, you’ll need a sense of flow in order to map out your plan so you’re not working haphazardly or franticly.
You should also be brutally honest with yourself about your ability and willingness to perform each step. Even the most well-thought-out plan will fail if you lack the skills to perform any of the steps or you’re unwilling to do what needs to be done…when it needs to be done. If there’s some aspect of your plan with which you’re uncomfortable or unsure, decide up front how you’re going to handle it. If you’ll need additional resources, for instance, make arrangements well in advance so you don’t slow down your progress…or worse, bring it to a grinding halt.
In order to determine if you’re on track and on schedule in accomplishing your goals, include in your plans benchmarks to hit (and thereby measure your progress) at set points along the path. If you’re off track, you can make adjustments to get back on track and back on schedule. If you wait until the end of the goal period to measure results, and they’re lacking, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The year will be exactly what you make of it…nothing more and nothing less. You have a choice: you can develop lofty goals; you can develop play-it-safe goals; or you can simply let things happen as they may (which means you’ll likely find yourself playing a part in the accomplishment of someone else’s goal). Your ability to see today a picture of what you want in the future, and your willingness to develop and implement a plan for accomplishment, will determine whether today’s picture becomes tomorrow’s reality.
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