8 Questions to Help You Plan for Success in the New Year

Whether it’s eating less, exercising more, spending more time with
family – or just putting more money into our RRSPs! – we all tend
to make personal resolutions around this time of the year. But whether
or not you set yourself some new personal goals, January is
also a great time to start thinking seriously about your business
plan for the year, regardless of when your fiscal year ends!

Of course, it’s always a great idea to plan ahead. But don’t make
the mistake of setting new goals for your career without first reflecting
on your accomplishments – and your shortcomings – from the past year.

This isn’t always an easy (or pleasant) task. But to truly control
the direction you take this year, you need to be fully aware of how
you fared in the last twelve months. Then, once you have a clear picture
of where you excelled, where you need to focus more time or effort,
and your results, you can begin to set the goals and behaviors you’ll
need to succeed in the new year.

The following are a few questions I use in my coaching sessions,
which can help guide you through this important process. Remember:
be as tangible, specific and honest as possible in your answers:

1. Where did I write down last year’s goals, so I can review them
and see how I did?
Where will I write down this year’s goals, so they can be easily
reviewed in at the end of the year?

2. What am I most proud of accomplishing last year, or since my
last goal planning session?

3. What goals did I not accomplish this past year, despite my best
intentions? Why didn’t I accomplish these things? What have I been
putting off that I could take care of in the next two weeks?

4. What did I do last year to improve my industry, product, sales
skill and personal development knowledge? What are the most
important things I learned as a result?

5. How many new connections did I make last year? How many referrals
did I pass on to my clients, partners, friends or others?

6. What challenges, problems or frustrations could prevent my success
this year?

7. What opportunities are available to me this year, which are
the same as opportunities I had last year?

  • Did I take advantage of these opportunities last year? Why
    or why not?
  • What will I do to guarantee I take full advantage of these opportunities
    this year?
  • What tools, resources and focus will I require to take advantage
    of these opportunities?

8. What opportunities are available to me this year that are different
from last year?

  • What will I do to guarantee I take full advantage of these opportunities?
  • What tools, resources and focus will I require to take advantage
    of these opportunities this year?

In total, this exercise should take you about one or two hours to
complete. To achieve the maximum results, I would recommend that you
find a quiet place away from the office and your house – say a coffee
shop or a pub (providing one of your New Year’s resolutions wasn’t
to cut back on alcohol or caffeine!) – and really give it the time,
effort and attention it deserves. After all, your answers will form
the basis for your entire business strategy for the next twelve months.

Don’t rush the exercise, but force yourself to complete it all in
one sitting. Your instincts will tell you more than you can predict,
and your answers will be more accurate and insightful if you think
diligently about them the first time, rather than going back and revising
them later.

Watch for the next issue of Engaging Ideas, where we’ll discuss what
questions to ask yourself when planning to make this year great, as
well as what actions you can take immediately to ensure you achieve
your goals. In the meantime, thanks for reading – and Happy New Year
from Engage!