Clarifying your vision and strategy for the year ahead

Every year I spend time thinking all about me. Some might call it self-indulgent or selfish but I like to think it is not only smart but essential.

Great leaders and businesses take the time to reflect, review and reset every year, quarter and month, and I have taken this habit and skill into my personal life. Some questions I consider include the following.

  • What worked, what didn’t and why?
  • What happened, what didn’t happen and what am I going to do to change the situation?
  • What are my goals across all segments of my life for the next twelve months and five years? (I like to set both long- and short-term goals.) Those segments of my life include health, social life, career, finances, love and romance, learning and community.

And then I start planning exactly what I am going to do. I prioritise and diarise these activities, then start to action them.

This year I did a lot of this thinking on a kayak in Port Fairy. (I also learnt how to paddleboard during this holiday but there was no time for pondering or reflecting while doing so  – my goal was simply to stay on top of the board, not underneath it!)

Over the years I have learnt a few things about developing and implementing the strategies that work for me and I am happy to share them here.

  1. Identify the long-term goal.

I begin with my five-year goal and I specify a deadline. The top of my current goal sheet reads: ‘By 2026 I will …’ 

It is important to start with your longer- and medium-term goals, because from these come your one-, two- and three-year goals and actions.

I look at all parts of my life, rating them to make sure there is a healthy balance. There is no point being really successful in the career or finance area if you have destroyed your relationship or health.

  • Review and check for reality.

I define all my goals for the longer term and then I review them with a critical eye, asking myself, ‘How could I achieve this? What would I have to compromise? What resources do I need?’

For example, my current goals include continuing to build Peeplcoach in Australia and globally, completing my master’s degree in psychology, learning to paddleboard, keeping fit and being available as a parent as my kids finish their secondary schooling. Both of them will be completing their VCE over the next four years.

When I reviewed these plans I realised that all of this is not achievable, so the master’s is going to have to wait.

  • Validate and critique your plans.

I am a big believer in asking for feedback from people who can help me see my blind spots and who can challenge me. I share my plans with a few trusted peers, including my husband, for validation. What am I missing? What else should I be considering? How do these plans align with what they know of me and what they understand of my industry, the economy and life in general?

Great plans are rarely created on their first draft, instead requiring discussion, debate and, sometimes, significant revision.

  • Put your plans in place.

Once you understand your destination you can then plan the trip. It is important to break these goals into bite-sized and achievable actions with clear time frames. Your plans must include end dates, which then determine start dates and the steps required in between. Block time in your diary to ensure that lack of time is never an excuse. At the moment I have diarised yoga, lunch, Pilates, family games night and two short courses that I plan to undertake.

My business plans and goals were finalised last year so I am already clear of my monthly, quarterly and annual objectives and strategies.

  • Share and celebrate.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear outlines a number of tips that will help keep you on track and accountable.

One tip is to share your goals with others. This could be in the form of creating accountability groups with friends or family, putting notes or reminders in prominent places such as on the break room fridge.

Another tip is to celebrate the wins. Set yourself mini goals and reward yourself for achieving them. Go for a walk every night after work and then go out for dinner. Give up smoking as a step on your road to improved health and treat yourself to a holiday.

  • Review, reset, adjust and keep going.

In the words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, ‘The best-laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry.’ In other words, strategic plans and goals should never be set in concrete. The environment, industries, people and situations are all subject to change. Two years living through a global pandemic has shown us this time after time. Constantly reassess your plans and goals. Continue with what is working and change what is not. Adjusting your plans is not a sign of weakness or failure. Instead, constantly re-evaluating and modifying to meet changing conditions is essential for long-term success.

Whether you are developing a vision and plan for your business, your career or your life, the steps are the same.

  1. Identify the long-term goal.
  2. Review and check for reality.
  3. Validate and critique your plans.
  4. Put your plans in place.
  5. Share and celebrate.
  6. Review, reset, adjust and keep going.

If you would like to find out more about how to create your career plan and kickstart 2022 please register for our free webinar series here.