New Year’s Resolution: How to Get Started on Your Annual Plan

The end of a year can have an emotional pull in polarized directions. To our left, we see our accomplishments, celebrated victories, new friendships, and relationships and to our right, we see heartbreaks and incompletions. Depending on your personal wiring you will tend to keep one side closer to your vest.

But regardless of your focus, I recommend you start this year’s planning by making a list of all your professional accomplishments including the areas of relationships with supervisor(s), peers, direct-reports and personal development. All too often we forget to include these areas and instead focus only on the bottom line.

Then take out another piece of paper or use your electronic device of choice to make another list citing the areas that are worthy of improvement. What did get done, but not in the way you would have like to have seen it? What could you have done better? Make a list of the important items using the same areas you used above and be creative in your approach to improvement. Maybe you could have asked for assistance. Maybe your goals were not realistic or you lost focus. Last but not least, make a list of all those items that did not get done or were bumped off the list. If you don’t remember if this is your first time doing an exercise like this, no worries.

Now that you have completed all three lists you are ready to set some goals for this year. Be intentional and take some concerted time and think carefully about the goals you put on this list. What do you want? What is your vision for your company, your department, your employees or direct reports? Where are you headed in your professional life? I know these are big questions but it is important to take time to think about it.

It helps to break goals down into time periods. What are you going to accomplish within the next four weeks, six months and 12 months? Do you need to access any resources to be successful? Do your wants and goals align with who you are and your values?

Be specific. If you want to change the culture in your company or your department, come up with an action step. Perhaps the first step is a needs analysis. Regardless of the size of the goals, take your time in figuring out how to get from A to B.

Last but not least remember that whatever you do, it is not important to be perfect. Just take a piece of paper and get started. Pick something small, be specific and break the action steps into bite-size pieces and you can’t go wrong.

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