With the end of the year here, everyone is putting the finishing touches on (or scrambling to start) their plans for 2013. Whether it’s for yourself, your family, or your company, putting some thought into what you want to accomplish in the new year is an incredibly useful exercise. Most of us, though, struggle to find the time to take a time-out and plan. It can be especially difficult to find time for our personal goals (because, let’s face it, if no one is expecting it from us, it’s easy to push it off).
So here’s a way to create a useful business plan to help guide your career in 2013… that will only take you 7 minutes to complete (the same process works for you personal life, too). If you can find time for something more extensive, fantastic! But this will give help you foundation for 2013, and give you guidance on how to spend your time.
1. On a sheet of paper, write your 3 most important professional successes from this year. They don’t have to be your biggest, but they should be the ones that you were most excited about.
2. After each success, write a phrase that helps describe why you achieved it. Did you discipline yourself to a specific activity? Were you able to overcome obstacles. Did you collaborate well? For example, if you landed a big account, the reason might be: “I worked with my team to develop a great presentation that focused on how we could solve the prospect’s problems.”
3. Underline each of the reasons why you succeeded.
4. Write the biggest professional failure or challenge of 2012. You are the only one who will see this so be honest. Did you fail to get a promotion? Struggle with a relationship at work? Miss your income goals for the year?
5. Next to that failure, write down the main reason that led to it. If you were overwhelmed at work, did it stem from challenges with delegation. Or if you missed out on a promotion or a big sale; was it because you were afraid to ask for it?
6. Underline the reason you failed.
You now have three reasons you were successful in 2012 and one way that you struggled. Most people would spend 2013 working on their weakness, trying to prevent it from blocking their success in the new year. But that’s not what this plan is for. The best place to put your focus is on your strong areas, not your weak areas. I learned that from an early mentor of mine, Marty Domitrovich (a massively successful entrepreneur), and Marcus Buckingham (in Now, Discover Your Strengths). The most effective way to leverage your abilities is to focus on what you do best.
So in 2013:
7. Look at the three strengths and one weakness every Monday morning
8. Spend the week focusing 75% of your professional life on your strong points, and put 25% of your time into improving your weak area.
9. Repeat this every week.
If this is the only planning you do, but you get in the habit of looking at it every week – you’ll have your best year ever.
Happy New Year!