A new year has just begun. Even if we live in a continuous flow of time, the new year still represents some kind of venture point. We leave the year that passed behind us and open up for what the new year has to offer. We can look back and summarize what happened during the last 12 months, and take the first steps on the path we have chosen for the year to come.
A clean slate
Speaking for myself, I sometimes perceive that clean slate which the new year symbolizes as something obligating. How do we make the most of the opportunities we will be given to develop our business during the year to come? What will be most important? What should I prioritize and focus on above anything else?
In a world overflowing with podcasts, magazines and nifty lecture-videos it is easy to get lost amongst the innumerable options and possibilities available to us. There is just so much to choose from and so many things we could focus on. And we might feel that there are so many things others are doing which we should be doing as well. If we make the additional mistake of subconsciously assuming that all of these achievements done by different people are somehow being done by a single individual, it can feel as if ”everyone else are doing what we currently are not, and by not doing what they are doing, we are falling behind” (at least if you are somewhat like me).
You are already progressing
At the same time as this apparent window of opportunity opens with the beginning of the new year, your business is already moving along as usual. E‑mails keep coming in, and you are already committed to delivering results to clients. So when it comes down to it, we might not have as much extra space as we think for innovation and renewal.
Let us therefore make things simple.
As I see it, we only need to determine three things in the beginning of the year:
- If we are generally heading in the right direction
- How far we want to get this year
- What changes we want to focus on which will enable us to reach our goals
If you want to make a few decisions which will benefit you throughout the rest of the year, then do this:
- Take out your vision. It could be the vision which concerns the entire business, your particular area of responsibility, or yourself. (If there isn’t a vision available and you want tips on how to define one, I have previously written about this process here and here.)
- Skim through the vision and underline all aspects which are no longer relevant. They might for instance no longer be attractive since you have gained other experiences along the way which have guided you in new directions.
- Notice aspects which are missing in the vision and which you and your organization might need to take into consideration.
- When the description of the vision feels accurate and updated, you can leave it aside for now. You have now reestablished the desired long-term result of all your efforts. If the vision you refer to in your work is that of the entire organization, then this would of course be something you do together with your colleagues during one or a few meetings, rather than alone at your desk.
- Now set a handfull of goals which you think could be good intermediate goals and milestones to strive for throughout the next year on your path towards finally attaining the vision. Three or four might be a good number to start with. If you set more they might be difficult to remember and will then not influence how you prioritize tasks on a day to day basis. If you have been assigned goals to attain by for instance your boss, then you should still select three or four which constitute the most important ones to strive towards. You need the goals to prioritize, and to get more of the important tasks done since they will help you say no to tasks which might be urgent but not important.
- Finally choose a few change‑, improvement‑, and development-projects on which to focus during the next few months until they are completed. If you choose too many at once they will all take longer to complete. During last year I set a limit for myself of working on a maximum of seven projects simultaneously, but during this year I will limit myself to five at most. Separate the chosen projects from the (thus far not prioritized) rest of the projects on your overview of more extensive tasks and projects. This way it will be no doubt as to what to work on first.
Take aim and have faith
If you set your course for your work during 2022 early in the year, it will become easier to prioritize in your everyday life and work. You will determine what offers and requests to accept and which to decline faster; regardless if it concerns tasks others ask you to do or something someone suggest you purchase.
You will find that you work with greater focus and concentration. Confidently you take steps towards where you want to ultimately go.
What is your way?
What are your best methods for setting the course for the year to come? Please share!