There are scores of approaches to goal-setting and countless tracks to run on, but I’ve found the best way to harness my own productive power is by setting each year to a theme. By giving each year a particular context, we can focus our thoughts and actions in very specific ways. Allow me to offer you a few examples.
Quite a few years ago, the pace of technological change and the growth of our business had me feeling very disorganized and out-of-control. We had messy client files and therefore, a messy client experience. So, heading into the next year, we chose to implement a yearlong focus on operational excellence. In fact, we simply named it ‘OE.’ We printed and hung signs around the office and included OE discussions in all of our weekly meetings. The result was a commitment to getting the business organized and streamlined in a way that I know we wouldn’t have had we not made it an overarching priority that year. We moved old files from paper to paperless, implemented a new CRM and organized clients’ information in a fashion that has transformed our operations to this day. Once we did this, organization oozed into all areas of the business, a truly game-changing effect.
In other years, we focused on turning financial planning into an art-form. Not only did we begin delivering truly holistic financial plans to our clients, but we charged for them and made them into works of art, with the help of a graphic designer. The benefits of each annual theme and commitment to excellence in that area is enduring and compounding. Because of this, I think you’d be very wise to adopt such a practice in your business.
In order to get started on choosing your annual theme, consider the following steps:
What problem keeps you up at night?
If you’re tired of feeling disorganized, make operational organization your theme. Do your finances feel out-of-control? Make 2021 the year of financial excellence.
What’s at stake?
If you were to focus on a particular theme for the next year, what might the benefits look like? Conversely, by not working on your problem area, what could the cost be? Whether you’re driven by rewards or by consequences, determine what’s at stake and you’ll find great power in sticking to your theme.
Who can help me?
Let’s face it, if you’re kept up at night by an ongoing and persistent challenge in your business – that has high stakes – you may not be the best person to lead the charge in addressing the concern. It’s likely not in your unique ability, and enlisting the help of others may be a staggeringly meaningful investment to make toward your future success. Write down names and schedule conversations with these people to enlist their help, maybe we’re on that list for you. Allow them to champion your theme for 2021.
Choose your actions.
Now that you have the theme and team determined, make an action plan for carrying out the improvement process. You know the drill: be specific, choose measurable tasks, and get to it.
Admittedly, I’m awful at this. But you don’t have to be. When you see improvement in your chosen theme, high-five, buy pizza, throw a party, whatever it takes to stay excited about the progress you’re making. Make excellence fun.
So, what’s your theme going to be for 2021? We all know industry change is coming, so the stakes have never been higher for taking control of your business to steer it in the direction of your choosing and not allowing the winds to carry you where you’re not inclined to go. Make 2021 the year that changes everything for you. New year, new theme, massive productivity gains.