Where do you want to be this time next year?
December 13, 2019
If you haven’t already done so, the holiday break is a great time to pause and reflect on the past year and where you want to be in 12 month’s time – both personally and for your business. Ask yourself, are you tapping into your full potential?
I’ve been reading the 12 Week Year, which essentially aims to motivate you towards a fixed goal and systemise the way you get there by applying ‘effective execution’. The overarching theme is that people and businesses plan and think in years and that’s how they typically measure and track themselves. The issue is, it causes complacency. You know that if you don’t hit your goals in Q1, you don’t worry as you have the rest of the year to make up for it. In January, December looks a long way off. But what if one year was only 12 weeks? How would that change your attitude and performance?
Maybe the concept is a little intense for some but it’s an interesting perspective and one that questions, are we being the best we can be? And rather than thinking about a year, how are we performing every day and every week; living in the now. But it starts by changing our thinking and mind-set, which in-turn helps us take the right actions.
One of the key areas it highlights to unblock is your vision. Many agencies started because they were fed up with their previous job and realised, they could do a better job. Unfortunately, when it comes to growth, this vision isn’t a motivator for other people (such as talent and prospects) to get excited about. It’s worth distinguishing between a milestone or target and your ultimate, long term vision. A vision should be almost unattainable and make you feel a little scared. At first you will feel like that vision is impossible, but once you start asking ‘What if…?’, then you will dare yourself to think it might be a possibility. Your business vision must be derived from your personal vision, otherwise you won’t have the drive to see it through when times get tough. So, it’s important to think about what you want from life; what do you want to be known for? Once you have something you’re passionate and people can get behind, you’ll have the momentum to start asking ‘how do we achieve our vision?’. Often people know their vision deep down, but they aren’t brave enough to share it because of the implications it might have or how they might be judged. “A vision without a plan is a pipe dream”
The book’s general philosophy around planning and work ethic is something we believe and already put into practice for ourselves and our clients. Planning reduces mistakes, provides focus and saves time (despite people thinking they don’t have time to plan!). The approach is to treat every 12 weeks as though it is a new plan. The key benefits are, this is far more predictable than annual planning as who can honestly plan their actions 11 months in advance!? And it’s much more focused as you’re not getting spread too thin or disillusioned by what may or may not happen over 365 days.
This is about breaking your big goal into smaller, manageable chunks. It’s important you don’t get overwhelmed by the big goal (or BHAG) and avoid getting pulled into less important, unstrategic tasks. You should have a plan with weekly and monthly goals that ladder up to overarching goal and that you can focus on now. This is all about committing to executing and keeping promises to yourself, which if done, builds self-esteem. By committing to these smaller, more immediate goals; when all compiled, the end result will take care of itself. You may have heard us talk about lead and lag factors; which is the same principle of focusing on what you can control, not worrying or complaining about what you can’t.
One of the key tools we use to track success is our new business and marketing tracker, which derives from our strategies. This is about confronting the truth and being honest with yourself and your colleagues about how you are performing. Too many agencies fail to keep score. Measurement builds self-esteem and confidence because it documents progress and achievement. So, it’s time to stop making assumptions and waiting until it’s too late to change anything; deal with it now.
Many of us are unaware of how we spend our time and without owning our time, then the day controls us. For example, a lot of agency owners I know are constantly being pulled into client work as opposed to focusing on improving and growing the business. There needs to be a lot of discipline around this and one method of doing this is by blocking out your time in strategic blocks (uninterrupted key initiatives) and buffer blocks (unplanned, low-level activities). You also need time out the business to maintain your creative edge and avoid burnout. These are all things you can put into your diary right now.
I like the way it talks about accountability and how we’re using it wrong. Many people hold people accountable after an event occurs, so it is seen as a negative consequence and a way of blaming someone. However, accountability is actually about ownership of an outcome, regardless of whether you succeed or fail. Accountability is the realisation that everyone has freedom of choice and that everything you do is a choice not something you ‘have-to’ do. When you realise this and tap into it, you are able to tap into your resources to be at your best. It is too easy for us to become a victim to outside circumstances. True accountability is empowering.
On top of accountability and commitment, the last principle is about ‘Greatness in the Moment’. This is the realisation that greatness is not achieved when a result is reached, but long before that, when you make a choice to do what is necessary to be successful. The results are not the attainment of greatness, but simply confirmation of it. You become great the moment you choose to do the things you need to be great and every moment you continue to do those things.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can help you plan and success with our strategies and tools.