I sat delicately in the chair that reminded me of the ice cream parlor chairs when my grandmother would take me out for ice cream. In front of me, a latte and a freshly baked cookie, comfort food for a meeting with my accountability partner.
Although I love what I do, I was having trouble getting my head around business planning for next year. And what I know about myself is that I need to stop this train in its tracks before I end up completely winging it for the year. One section of our monthly accountability meetings is brainstorming on a topic and this one was mine.
This story is really about what it takes sometimes to engage your brain. The lesson here is use your strengths. Returning to use them will help you every time you’re stuck.
My Head Was Saying
“Hey, it’s not next year yet. Why are we thinking about this now?” Or “Hey, how can we make this different from last time?” Variety, as the spice of my life, hinders sometimes, when it’s really not necessary.
Through some deft coaching, Sherrill reminded me of my strengths, and then we brainstormed a solution.
- Writing – Takes it all out of my head and makes it easier to process.
- Verbal processor – talking out loud and through the issue helps me discover solutions … every time
- Great listener.
- and I enjoy creativity. I’m working on whether it’s truly a strength, but I enjoy it and require it in my life, in many forms.
My Solution to Getting Started
To get myself started, I’ll be writing a story.
I typically write morning pages because of the requirement for three pages, every day. Writing these pages releases creativity and unclutters my head, grounding me for the day.
I’ll be writing my story, of one day in the life of Sue West, organizing coach, for how I’d like things to be. How much organizing time? How much writing time? How much coaching time, presenting time, etc. Someone else had suggested I do percentages: what percent of my week did I want to work in each of these areas. Not engaging to me, but I get a similar result by writing the story, and using my strengths. It’s easier to live a story than numbers. To me.
And Then, My Planning Process
#1 Choose a half day in December and a half day in January, when I go off the grid and work on the plans. December is about reflection primarily, with the beginnings of planning. January is about planning, perhaps with some additional reflection. January is important because the plan is in play, so my brain can get wrapped around the goals more easily.
#2 Then I gather the spokes to this planning wheel:
- Various numbers I look at throughout the year, not simply revenue and profit but about the work itself;
- Ideas I’ve trapped during this year which are for implementation next year;
- Actions to help this year end really well … and next year start really well – a quick win
- Who are the leaders and what are they doing?
- One page planning summary template. And it may not surprise you that this has colors and shapes on it. One page I can easily keep in front of me all year long.
- A set of questions, like these from Barbara Winter’s always inspiring blog.
- List of projects already in the works which will happen in 2013
As Barbara writes,
“The real purpose of taking inventory is to answer the question, ‘Are you living in a bigger world than you were when the year began?’ How I honestly answer that question determines my journey for the year ahead.”
And you’ll know if you’ve read her work that “bigger” is not necessarily about the size of your business. It’s about the curiosity, the expansion of your own learning, and your own horizons you operate in for this work you do. Because all of that will feed into your success, however you define that word.
So where will your wheels take you this year? How will you get yourself engaged in next year, while it’s still this year?
As always, if you need support getting unstuck, that’s a great coaching topic for us. Please email or call if that sounds like you.