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#170: Planning for 2024 in Business

Introduction

Welcome back! I’m thrilled that you’re here with me today for our last episode of 2023. Last week in episode 169, we began the process of planning for the new year. And this is a process that you can use at any point in the year, but it seems to lend itself nicely when you are settling down and slowing down in the month of December as you think ahead to what you want for your business. 

And so last week, we talked about reflecting on where you’ve been in the past year. Today in episode 170, which is what you’re listening to right now, we are going to talk all about how to plan for the upcoming year in a very realistic, doable, but stretch worthy way.

Rooted in Vision

A big part of planning is to make sure that you are staying rooted in your vision. You want to make sure that everything you do day in and. Day out is going to end up bolstering your vision, making it stronger, making it more of a reality, and making sure that you do not just get off track somewhere. And so that means that when we start planning for the new year, you might have this laundry list of things you’d like to get done. But I encourage you to take a step back and look. Look at your vision for your business, and then identify three big goals or ideas that you’d like to accomplish this year. 

When you look at these three big goals, we want to follow the principles of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. And if you know anything about flow, you know that flow happens when you kind of get in the groove of things. It happens when you have a balance of skill and challenge. This means that if you set your three big goals as something that are easy to accomplish in, say, the first month of the year, you are not going to get into flow, and it’s really not going to help advance your business. 

Likewise, if you set these three big goals so far beyond your capabilities, whether that’s time, capabilities, skills, resources, it’s going to create a moment of, and probably a big long moment of stuckness and inaction. You actually need to make sure that when you are creating your three big goals or ideas for the year, what would you like to accomplish in your business that will help you move towards your vision? Make sure that you have a balance of skill and challenge. 

This is probably where most people struggle, and rightfully so, because how do you know exactly what’s too challenging, what’s too easy? Do I really have the skill set necessary to accomplish this? Or is it gettable in the next little bit so that it is in my skill set, my toolbox by the time I’m ready to work toward this goal? This is what is going to take some of that reflection into play. Make sure that you’re looking back at that reflection we did last week in episode 169 to see what you were able to accomplish. 

What were the challenges, what were the struggles, what were the strong points, what strengths did you rely on? Because if you can look at those realistically and honestly you’re going to be able to choose three big goals for your business this year that are doable but challenging because you’re going to know your strengths. You can lean into those strengths and you can also say I had a really big struggle this year and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon so I need to make sure that I adjust for that. 

For some people it might mean that they’re a parent, and those time commitments are just going to continue to increase. You need to take into account the time commitment that you can’t do anything about. It’s just part of your life and so those big goals need to take that into account. 

Whereas maybe you were in the midst of a home renovation this past year and the home renovation is complete, so that’s no longer a challenge. You don’t need to keep planning for this home renovation and knowing that it’s disrupting everything because it’s done. So your goal does not need to take that into account, but it might need to take into account the fact that you’re caring for your aging parents. See what I mean? 

It’s all about looking at that reflection and then saying, all right, how do I use this information to make an informed choice about my big goals or ideas for the year? They need to be doable, but they need to be. Challenging, because if they’re not challenging, we are not motivated on those dreary, gray days to get out of bed and to actually go do the work necessary. 

At this point, once you have three big goals or ideas, I want you to take a step back real quick and make sure that they still align with your vision, that you can see how this goal clearly aligns with this piece of your vision, how it is going to make that vision more of a reality. At the end of this year. Once you’ve implemented that goal, if you can see that clear connection, and you can explain it to someone else, and they see the clear connection, then you probably have a pretty good goal that you can incorporate into your big three for the year. From there, it’s time to start breaking this down. This is where there’s going to be a lot of wiggle room, because you’re essentially laying out the quarters of your year up front. But we all know that life happens. We all know that you can plan and make the most beautiful plan and it doesn’t follow through because things pop up. Stuff happens. 

When you create this next little step I’m going to talk about, I want you to remember to be flexible and give yourself some grace. Okay, so what is next after your three big goals for the year? I want you to take a look at each one of those individual goals and say what needs to happen for this to be a reality. And you can list out these things. You can do it by month, you could do it by quarter, you could do it just as a list to get yourself started. Do it just as a big list to get started because what happens is you can look at that list of things that it’s going to take to get to the big goal and start to realize there’s a natural order to that list or there’s a natural grouping of items within that list. And this is what then gets broken down into your quarterly goals. Are you seeing the point here? 

Every little step of the way when we do our annual goals, then we do our quarterly there has to be a very clear connection to that annual goal. If there is no connection, it is not moving you closer to the goal. It is not moving you closer to your vision. This is where entrepreneurs go wrong. They get really excited about something. They see a shiny object, they see a new program, they see a new membership, they see a new piece of software, something we’ve all been there. It distracts us and you think. Okay. One of my big goals is to learn Asana for this quarter. Well, if learning Asana does not help you get to your three annual goals or ideas, is it really necessary? 

This is a process that I go through. Every time I’m looking at adding something new to what I’m doing or deciding if I should buy a program or join a membership, I look at what the vision is first, and then I look at the three big goals, and how does this fit into those goals? Is it really going to propel those goals forward? Is it just something that I think is really cool and interesting? Because I’m kind of a tech geek, I kind of love new software and trying new things. So I have to be really careful to make sure that I’m not just going down that path, because it’s something that’s interesting to me. If it’s not suitable for my business or not helpful to my business goals, then I have learned to kind of bookmark it. And set it aside for a different time. And I want you to get really comfortable with that process of analyzing these different pieces that you want to work on to understand. Does it help the quarterly goal? Does it help the annual goal? Does it help the vision? And when the answer is no, it becomes, well, maybe this is something I could do in my downtime. Maybe it’s a hobby. Maybe it is something for next year, and I should note it down so that I can remember it. Because a lot of times we jump into things thinking, what if I forget? I see all the time people purchasing things like Descript, Kapwing or any of the other numerous softwares out there that allow you to caption your videos and break them apart into social media posts, but then they spend six months not using it. Because it wasn’t what they’re actually working on for their business right now. Guess what? Those things will be there in six months. It will be okay. 

Where are you at right now? Reflect back. Look at your strengths for the year. In this past year, what has worked for you? What challenges did you experience? Use those to help inform your three big goals for the year. And some of you might be pushing back right now. You might be saying, but I need to do more than three big things. That’s awesome. Do three. You can always add more after you finish those three, then break those big goals down. 

One of my favorite ways is to list the different things that have to happen for that goal to become a reality. And then I look for either a natural order of things that I can break down into my quarterly goals or a natural grouping of things that I can break down into my quarterly goals. And what you might find is that you’re not simultaneously working toward all three big goals in your business every single quarter. You might find that the first big goal really gets your attention in quarter one, and it is your primary thing that you’re working on, because goals two and three either build on goal one, or they are not as pressing as goal one. So they get pushed into quarters two, three, four, or even quarters three and four. 

By breaking all of this down into those different things that have to happen for those annual goals, you really get a very clear sense of how your year is going to unfold. And you get this opportunity to craft an annual plan that’s doable because you’re not waiting until the last minute and saying, I just have this big goal to meet, and hoping and praying for the best. You get to look at what meaningful actions need to be taken, what mindset work needs to be done, what message. Messaging needs to be done for all of these goals to become a reality. 

As you’re setting your goals, if you are someone who enjoys the smart goal process, go ahead and employ it here as a reminder. Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, or achievable. Whichever word you like, realistic and time bound you. Let me say that one more time. These goals that you’re creating should be specific. This goes for annual and quarterly goals. Measurable. You’ve got to know when it’s done, attainable or achievable. It’s got to be doable, realistic. Think about how it fits into your life and time bound. So it needs to be by a specific date or within a certain amount of time. 

Once you have your annual and your quarterly goals, sit back and I want you to think about how all of these things come together. What is one underlying theme to everything that you’ve outlined so far? A lot of times, people really love coming up with a word for the year, and for years, I have really resisted this because I think about the fact that one word for the whole year, that feels kind of constraining. What if things happen? What if I choose the wrong word and it sets the wrong tone and I kind of spiral from there? So one of the things that I enjoy doing is sometimes I will come up with a word for the year, but more often, I’ll come up with a word for the quarter or for the month. And even if I come up with a quarterly word, I’ll still come up with a monthly word because it just keeps me grounded. And a lot of times, I will put it on a sticky note. So I’ll actually write my word for the month on a sticky note and put it on my computer so that every time I sit down at my desk I am seeing that word for the month, and it is a reminder of let’s make sure this happens. And because it’s changing each month, it doesn’t lose my attention. It’s what I’m going to keep in mind to help me plan to take action to achieve. And so that is also a good reminder of this word should be leading us to our vision. 

Now, I know a lot of people encourage you to go even deeper for annual planning, but what I’ve found is that there are so many variables in life that if you go deeper and you start planning every single month from here to the end of the year, it leads to feelings of inadequacy or failure when they don’t happen according to the timeline that you set out. Now, if you are in a business where you are launching. For instance, if you want to launch your course four times next year, yeah, go ahead and maybe choose some good dates that work for you and your family and your schedule. But know that you might have to do a little bit of tweaking here and there as you get further into the year. If, however, you do not plan to launch, then saving some of that more detailed planning until you’re closer to that time really does make sense, because you’re going to know better what your life is doing right? Then you’re going to know better what your business is doing, what immediate concerns have popped up, and what new things need to be added that help you get to that quarterly and that annual goal that you maybe didn’t think of, say, in December of the previous year. 

The key, truly, to annual planning is to keep. Keep your vision in mind.

Action Item

This week for your action item, first of all, I want you to take some time and just breathe and enjoy your family, your friends, the quiet, the peacefulness. And if you don’t have much of that quiet and peacefulness, see if you can carve out a few little minutes here and there for some quiet and peacefulness before you go back into the melee of things. 

And then your second item, action item for the week, if you so choose, is to think about three big things. And remember, big is a subjective term. Three big things you’d like to accomplish in your business this year. Big is subjective. Don’t compare your three annual goals to anyone else’s. Everyone is at a different stage of life and a different stage of business with a different stage of needs and. We cannot compare ourselves to anyone else. Your three big goals might be to add five people a month to your email list. A big goal might be to launch your course one time. Someone else’s big goals might be to add 1000 people per month to their email list. Or launch four times this year and add in an evergreen launch feature. Very, very different, right? Different stages of business, different stages of life. Don’t compare. 

As a quick reminder, your action items, find some time for some peace and quiet and reflection. And second, start thinking about what your three big annual goals or ideas that you would like to pursue this year will be, and you can take it a step further and start thinking about what those quarterly actions will look like. To get you there. And finally, if you are a word of the year, month, quarter kind of person, you can also do that activity as well.

Conclusions

When you plan, what happens is you create intention, and when you have that intention, you’re able to take meaningful action. One of the things I always talk about with my clients is the fact that our vision comes from a place of mastering your mindset, taking meaningful action, and creating messaging that is aligned with everything that you’re doing. This planning allows you to master your mindset, create some realistic ideas, it allows you to take meaningful action throughout the year, and it also allows you to be very clear on what it is you’re trying to do in your business, and that creates messaging alignment. All of these combine to move you in the direction. Direction of the vision you have for your business. 

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. Of course, creation of business building and of mindset mastery. As always, I appreciate you taking the time to listen in, to subscribe, and to leave those reviews. They really do matter, and they mean a lot to me. As we wrap up today’s episode, I hope you have an amazing end of your year, and I will see you back here in 2024. I am thrilled. I’m excited for everything that’s been planned for 2024, and I hope that you are too.

I’ll see you back here next week for another episode of the Entrepreneur Mindset Podcast, where we focus on mentoring, community and implementation. It’s all about taking action so that we can remove the overwhelm of building a successful and profitable business and add in a little dose of momentum.

Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week.

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