‘Tis that time again, and this year’s planning probably looks a bit different than any other year. Setting goals for Q1 2021 is more important than it’s ever been, so here are a few tips to make your planning effective no matter what the New Year brings.
- Follow your strategic plan to determine goals. Your strategic plan allows you to easily communicate who your company is, what is does, and who it does it for – allowing for easy employee onboarding, marketing, partnerships, and branding. It also allows you to determine your best path forward and say no to everything that would take you away from that path.
- Set quarterly goals as if they’re annual. Notice I didn’t recommend setting annual goals? There’s good reason for that. Annual goals have proven ineffective for decades, but we persist in the hope that this year will be different. (Pro tip: It won’t be.) Setting 3-4 annual-sized goals per quarter will keep you motivated, focused, and keep another October from rolling around with only 40% of your January goals completed. Go big, and then…
- …break down each into weekly and daily tasks. This style of planning for 12 week stints is based on the book “The 12 Week Year” that I have been following (and tweaking to make it work for our team) for a few years. The point of the 12 Week system is to set large goals that will stretch you. It’s the same as planning annual goals, except that every month in a traditional annual plan is shortened to a week (hence the 12 weeks), and every week is now a day. A day and a week are much more easily measured, allowing for action and reaction quickly. In our agency, we’ve become at least twice as productive by following this type of goal setting. IT takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have a planning for covid and non-covid contingencies (looking at you, event planners, retail/wholesalers and venue/meeting based people!)
- Review last year closely (even if it hurts) to see what worked, what didn’t, what competitors did better than you, and how you ca make real change for the long term life of your business.
- Is the end of the year a slow time for you? Use it to prepare, plan, dream, connect, form partnerships, and think outside the box while you aren’t under a dozen guns. Put in the time with your marketing and sales building. Innovate, imagine, and don’t let the time pass you by.
- Is this a crazy busy time? If so thank you for taking time to read this, and secondly take a minute to breathe. Ok, now look at how you can simplify. Look for time that you might be able to use to schedule Facebook posts, check emails only at specified times, and give yourself a dozen breaks a day if everything doesn’t get finished. Busy time is awesome, but not when it leads to dropping balls or burnout. Plan your new day at the end of each day rather than the start – you’ll be able to set your priorities and schedule out your day rather than having your day, and others’ priorities, run you.
Finally, when you’re setting goals during times of uncertainty, it’s important to predict likely reasons you might fail, and plan ahead for those contingencies. It’s not pretty, but going into big goals without acknowledging the things that are likely to hold you back (whether that’s staffing, cash flow, or even your won energy levels) is a pretty clear path to missing the mark.