How to plan now for a successful 2019. Get those goals lined up.

Start with reviewing this year
What went well? What didn’t?
As the leader it is worthwhile you reflecting on your year and focus in on the good, the bad and the ugly. If something went well, why was that? Did you, or someone, do something that made the difference? With the things that went badly, why was that? Be honest with yourself – what could you have done to reach a different outcome.

This exercise should also be carried out with your team.
This is NOT about apportioning blame. It is a grown up conversation for you all to learn from. Focus on the actions and process taken within the tasks and not the individuals.

Use this team meeting to celebrate the SUCCESS too. Whilst you may have got somethings wrong you will have totally nailed others! Don’t let the focus all be on the negative.
Take the learning from this year forward. Maybe you were not clear enough about something? Maybe it was not possible to dedicate enough time to a specific action which result in a goal not being met?
Revise whether that goal is still important. Does it need to come forward onto next years plan? If so what needs to happen to ensure that the blockages are removed and not repeated?

Key Goals
With your team work out what your key goals are for 2019.
Don’t overburden. I have made the common mistake of setting a plan which is simply too ambitious. If you recognise this in yourself be prepared to accept that your plan is very aspirational and pare it back a bit.
At the same time, you don’t want a plan which is under-ambitious. If you are writing a to do list of things that would be done anyway, it will not be in any way motivational.

What and Why?
What do you want to achieve and why? If you don’t understand the why behind your goals you are much less likely to put any energy into them. You and your team need to understand the purpose of what you are all doing. Ask yourself “what would my answer be if someone asks me WHY we are doing this”. If you can’t answer that concisely and immediately then…. well, why are you doing it?

Your goals may well have different timescales, and that’s a good thing. Don’t fall into the trap of putting the last possible date as the deadline for completion on all your goals. Here’s is what will happen. You will ignore them until 3 months before the end date and then realise that you cannot achieve all that in the time you have left.
I have always worked in quarters or 3 month blocks. This was partly driven by internal systems, such as finance, which tend to report quarterly. Now there are about a million advocates of 90 day planning systems. And, they make sense. 3 months, 90 days, a quarter of the year all create a manageable window in which to achieve most goals. A 90 day window also helps with focus.

Big projects, which make take 12 months or even more to complete can likewise be effectively broken down into 3 month chunks. (In fact if you are involved in project management you will know that quarterly reporting to your Board is a key element).

Once you have set your end dates you need to consider HOW you are going to achieve your goals.
Nothing happens without action. The key to success is being as clear as possible EXACTLY what needs to happen, by whole and by when.
Whilst you might have the WHY, the WHAT and the WHEN, without the HOW you might as well stop right now.

What are the tasks, and or, steps needed to achieve success? When must these be done by?What else has to happen? What time do you need to allow for the tasks? Who needs to be involved? How are you going to create the time to make sure these things happen? What are you not going to do? Is there a decision making process to go through?
Answers to all these questions are critical for ensuing that your plan is robust enough to succeed. If you don’t do the detail you won’t reach your end goal.

Once you have all of that you have your plan. But, don’t stop there. Share it with your team get feedback, review the reality of it think critically about feasibility.
It is better to have half a dozen really robust goals than 20 badly planned ones.
Hey, if you achieve everything in the first few months you can reconvene and add to your 2019 plan!

Be prepared for the unexpected
Nothing is cast in stone. Events along the way will impact. Sudden unexpected new goals will appear. Something else will become less important. Don’t become entrenched with what you thought was right at the beginning of the year.

Review – regularly
Use the plan with your team to review progress. Celebrate even small successes. Re-plan if things are going off track. Adjust where necessary.

Use your plan as a blueprint for your year and plan for your most successful year ever.

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