Best practices for developing your 2021 action plan

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Best practices for developing your 2021 action plan

Year-end brings about a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

As we count down 2020 and look toward the New Year, it’s only natural to be thinking about what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what we would like to change going forward. With all that has happened this year, there is a lot to consider. I’ve heard many say they just can’t wait for this year to end.

The New Year brings about the idea of resolutions. By definition, a resolution is, the act or process of resolving, such as the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.

With the speed of business today, specifically technological advances, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the complexity of it all. That leads to burnout and then ultimately, surrender. Better said, we just give up. That’s what seems to happen to many resolutions: We make them. We blow it. Then we just give up.

Taking complex issues and simplifying them into action steps is the practice of goal setting. Without a solid goal setting framework, resolutions go unrealized.

In the wise words of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.”

This article will help you:

  1. Learn how to craft meaningful goals;
  2. Understand how to communicate those goals; and
  3. Schedule time to review goals.

Craft meaningful goals

The concept of SMART goal-setting has been popular for many years. In his book, “Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals,” publishing-industry executive turned author Michael Hyatt adds two more concepts that can make goal setting even SMARTER.

The slideshow above provides a closer look at the updated acronym for goal-setting.

One bonus item to consider including as you craft your SMARTER goals, or your New Year’s business resolutions, is to define what the reward will be for achieving the stated goal. Envision reaching your milestones and winning a prize for your trouble.

Communicate your goals

Success doesn’t come from simply writing out SMARTER goals. Turning goals into achievement requires effective communication.

With personal goals, you may share your goals with a close friend, your spouse or significant other, a business coach or mentor, or some other trusted advisor.  You want their involvement as an “accountability partner.” These are the people that when things get tough, or you’ve missed a deadline or milestone, help you get back on track.  Choose these confidantes wisely.

In a business scenario, you will want to communicate goals and progress to your team.  This is critical to driving your business forward whether that’s with growth goals, system improvement goals, or transition goals. Keep the team involved from the start and you’ll realize results.

Schedule time for goal review

It’s important to schedule time to regularly review goals to maintain momentum.  Remember back to the S for Specific and E for Exciting.  Being Specific gives us focus and having goals that are Exciting, keep us inspired and motivated.

Too often, we start are year with a long list of resolutions with a year-end due date.   To be more successful, goal achievement dates should be spread out across the year.  This involves breaking annual goals into quarterly milestones or focusing on certain goals during certain quarters of the year.

A systematic way to review annual goals on a daily, weekly, and quarterly basis involves what Michael Hyatt calls the 3 x 3 matrix.

By scheduling time at the start of each week to conduct a review of the past week and identifying three big actions that need to be completed during the coming week, you systematically move your quarterly goals forward.

Once your three weekly objectives are defined, these get broken down into a “Daily Big 3” — daily actions that lead to the weekly objectives. They are the “Must Dos” for each day.  Setting the right Daily Big 3 requires a daily review of annual goals.

Discipline and time management are required to master the concept of goal setting, communication to maintain accountability, and systematic goal review. By putting these suggestions into action, you can develop a routine that answers the age-old question, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

Continuous, incremental improvement

According to Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Therefore, to become excellent, we must take action that leads to continuous, incremental improvement.

As you look to the New Year, it’s only natural to think about what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what to change going forward. These ideas then lead to resolutions.

To turn your resolutions into reality, use the framework outlined in this article to build your goal setting skills and systematically develop the habits that lead to excellence.

Best wishes for a productive New Year!

Chaim Berkovic

President – Skyscraper Insurance  

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