December is always an exciting time of year — the magic of the holidays, coupled with business planning and goal-setting — it’s an inspiring combination.
I still love to be 30,000 feet above the ground and looking five-10 years into the future, yes, enjoying the moment while also thinking about how and where we can go and grow next. Entrepreneurs and business leaders, I know you feel me. But, not so fast.
Have you looked back over the past year? Have you reviewed what went well, what didn’t, and what you still have left to accomplish? The year isn’t over yet.
Too often, high achievers want to jump ahead and keep running (and I get it), but there is a lot of value in making an end-of-year assessment and closing the loop on any lingering projects before the clock strikes midnight, and we’re onto 2021!
Check your goals
First, take a look back on your big goals and projects for the year, both personally and professionally. Which ones were you able to check off? Which ones did you knock out of the park? What other 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of?
Whether it was exceeding your sales goal by 20 percent, finishing your house remodel, running a 5K, or making it through home-schooling your children while still leading your team — all goals met deserve a moment of acknowledgment. You can do hard things — even amid a global pandemic!
Conjure up your failures
Next, take a look at your fail-forwards for the year. What didn’t go as planned? What goals did you completely miss? What did you simply fail at? It’s OK! This step is usually where the good stuff comes from, like the big ah-as and the pivots.
Maybe you posted something on social media that didn’t quite convey what you meant. Perhaps you lost a few agents to your competitors. Or maybe you never launched that new renovations division you had scheduled for Q3.
What did you learn? How will you get up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward? Are those goals still priorities, or do you need to make a shift? Are you missing someone in your life to help mitigate the risk of these failures in the future? Ask yourself the hard questions to get to the truth of the matter, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a future full of limitless opportunities.
Dive into the decisions you made
I also like to review any major decisions I made over the year. There aren’t usually too many that fall into this category, but think of things like:
- Making a new hire
- Shutting down a division
- Acquiring a new business
- Investing in a new project
- Launching a podcast
Which decisions went well? Which decisions didn’t? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? You’re just gathering data here so that the next time you face a similar decision, you can look back and not make the same mistake twice. Or, you might start to recognize your patterns of success and keep making the most optimal decisions to grow your business and your life.
Tie up loose ends
Now, take a look at what’s left.
How many unfinished projects or loose ends do you need to tie up before the end of the year? Are there emails you’ve been putting off? Do you need to update your will or car insurance? Have you meant to clean out your garage? Do you need to hit publish on your blog? Do you need to make that key hire?
Do you need to finish some continuing education credits (you know who you are). Are you waiting to read a new book until you finish your current book that you don’t even like anyway? Well, it’s time to let go of that book and any other baggage you’re carrying around.
After you make a list of this unfinished business, sit with it for a minute. Of those projects and tasks, which ones get you excited and which ones completely drain your energy? If you are getting absolutely no joy from the thought of completing one of those projects — maybe it’s time to delegate the task to someone else, sell the idea or take it off your list altogether.
It’s OK to say “no” or “not right now.” And if you feel a surge of energy when looking at one of those projects, then it’s time to put it on the calendar and get it done — before Jan. 1.
2020 isn’t over yet. You have plenty of time to take stock of what you accomplished (and what you didn’t), what decisions you made and which decisions you might make differently next time. Most importantly, you still have time to close the loops on lingering projects.
Don’t take any more baggage into the new year than you have to. There is never the perfect time to do the things that matter the most. So, once you’re clear on what matters the most, don’t wait for the ideal time — do it now. Entering the new year with clarity and a clean slate will set you up for success for the year ahead.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.