Have you started setting goals for the New Year yet? It's a busy time with the holidays, and it's hard to think about making time in your schedule for one more thing. But, it's important to take time to plan for success. Planning your year ahead of time gives you an idea of how much work you'll need to do weekly, and it can show you where deadlines might cross, and where you might be over-extending yourself. When you have a plan, it actually makes it easier for you to say no to things that might take you off track, and, it will also be less tempting to waste time and money on things that might not be right for your business.
In the five simple steps outlined below, you can have a plan set up for the whole year.
Find a quiet spot with about an hour of uninterrupted time. If you can't do that much in one sitting, break it down into two 30 minute sessions, or four 15 minute sessions.
Take out a sheet of paper, or open up a new document in your word processing program so that you can make notes.
The first four steps are brainstorming steps. Don't filter yourself. When answering the questions, put down whatever comes to mind. You can always refine as you go.
1. Assess the current state of your business. What was your income this year? Are there things you wish you would have done differently? If so, what are they, and how would you have changed them? What have you learned from your business this year?
To help you do this exercise, look back on your calendar for the current year. See what you've accomplished. Reflect on the great things, and the things that definitely could have gone better.
2. Determine what success looks like to you. Where do you want your business to be by the end of next year? Do you want to double your income? Do you want to make the leap to full time entrepreneurship?
3. Outline a strategy for achieving your success. What marketing activities do you want to continue/discontinue/try? How are you going to broaden your audience so that you can increase sales? Are you going to start an e-zine?
4. Be realistic about how you are going to accomplish the strategies you outlined above. What kind of time do you spend working in your business - are you part-time or full time? It's important to think realistically about this so that you don't set yourself up for unnecessary frustration.
Always overestimate the time it will take you to complete something. If you think it might take you two hours to write your e-zine article, schedule three.
5. Put the plan on paper. Start with the end in mind - add your deadlines to your calendar. If you're going to publish an e-zine, put the publish dates on your calendar.
Once you've got the deadlines, you can start planning your weeks. For example, if you've got a speaking engagement on January 26, you can plan your weekly to-do lists to accommodate writing the speech and creating materials.
Remember, you've got family obligations and social events to attend as well. Schedule the things you know will happen like Birthday parties, and girls night out, so that they don't surprise you right in the middle of a deadline crunch.
You can, of course adjust your plan as you go. You want to leave room to be flexible so that you can take advantage of unforeseen opportunities, and accommodate for life's surprises. Also, some things that you thought might work well, won't work at all. You can take those out of the plan and add something else. Nothing has to be set in stone.
Planning an entire year can seem overwhelming. But, if you take time out now, you'll be saner, more focused and more relaxed!