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Creating Successful Leaders

You might be immersed in holiday stress right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few minutes to ponder the year ahead. After all, it is right around the corner, and it’s better to be at least a little prepared than to have it sneak up on you. By putting in even 10 minutes of planning, you can add a little focus and direction to your year, rather than having it lead you around by the nose!

Take charge of your year by sitting down (perhaps with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine), pondering the year ahead, and going through the following 8 steps. You could undertake this activity in about 10 minutes, but I encourage you to take all the time you need.

1. Write down all your goals

Jot down whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit; don’t pause. Just write down everything (big and small, personal and professional) you would like to accomplish next year.

2. Rate your goals

Once you have your list, go through it and consider which items are the most crucial and which are not. You could give each entry a 1, 2, or 3 rating with 1 representing your most important goals/aspirations, 2 being goals of middling importance, and 3 representing less important goals.

3. Focus on your “1” goals

Take a look at your most important goals (i.e., the “1s”). Hopefully you only have two or three “1” goals (if you have much more than that, consider relabeling some of them) so you can place your focus on these particular objectives. You can still accomplish your 2s and 3s, but they might not be the center of your focus.

4. Work backwards

For each of your top goals, set a specific date for when you’d like to accomplish them. From there, work backwards on your calendar. How can you break up your goal into bite-sized pieces? What are some of the major milestones you need to accomplish? Fill in your calendar accordingly, working backwards from your deadline.

5. Highlight important milestones

Once you’ve completed step 4, consider your important milestones. What needs to be done by certain dates to accomplish each milestone? Starting thinking about the support/resources you’ll need, the tasks you’ll have to accomplish, and the time you’ll devote to reaching each milestone.

6. Create a derailment plan

Life happens. If you don’t happen to meet one of the deadlines for your milestones, what will you do? What’s your derailment plan? Will you sit down and rethink your schedule? Will you commit to working one evening each week (or part of the weekend) until you get back on track?

7. Think of an accountability partner (or several)

List a few people who would make good accountability partners—people who could occasionally check in to help keep you on track. Be sure to list people who will not necessarily let you off the hook if you miss a deadline or are getting sidetracked. Rather, choose people whom you respect and do not want to let down. Once you have your list, reach out to one person at a time until someone agrees to be your accountability partner for the year. If they ask, be sure to return the favor.

8. Set a “go” date!

You have a plan. You’re ready to blast off into the New Year. Now, all you need is a “go” date—a time to begin your launch. This could be the first of the year, or it might be a date further down the road—whatever makes sense with your plan.

Too many people get bogged down by day-to-day life instead of stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of their work or personal life. It can be immensely helpful to see the forest, instead of staring at the trees. By planning the year ahead, you partake in big-picture planning. You chart your course through the forest, instead of getting tripped up by the roots and brambles that everyday life tends to deliver.




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