This is the time of year when many of us are already planning for 2018, while seeing how to best juggle the upcoming holiday season. There are messages and markers everywhere that prompt us to do both, as much as most of us would just like to concentrate on the month at hand.
Signs of December celebrations are everywhere. It seems that the marketplace has jumped over Thanksgiving to light up stores with holiday decorations. People are busy scheduling social events and already feeling the edge of overwhelm that a packed calendar can bring during this season.
At the same time, the workplace is confirming budgets for 2018, prompting a hard look at targeting new goals and strategies.
So, if you are like me, you are receiving e-mail messages and calls to prepare not only for social events, but for client work deadlines that actually have to do with a running start to 2018.
Strategic planning and setting personal or professional goals for 2018, while seeing how to best manage the last two months of the year can be tough. Defining how you want next year to look can turn out to be a quick two-question process that can leave out some important self-reflection.
Here is what I mean: most of us will tend to scramble, by asking ourselves, “What did I not accomplish this year that I need to accomplish next year? What do I need to do differently in order to achieve this desired state or goal next year?”
I call this line of questioning “war zone thinking.”
This is a quick tactical assessment which is useful in times of war for quick action to avoid disaster. However, it also places us in a state of “high stress alert,” impelling you to operate from the “fight or flight” area of the brain.
Operating in this way is highly counter-productive for visioning and planning strategically for next year’s goals and aspirations, and here are three reasons why:
From a mindset point of view, such a quick line of questioning can tend to make you feel as though you are behind, and not performing or accomplishing enough.
Beginning a planning process with the question, “What did I not accomplish?” intimates that you have failed in some way, and places you in a defensive posture that does not allow for best processing.
Using the “fight or flight” area of the brain will keep you in a state of stress and throw up roadblocks to using your “executive brain.”
The latter is the part of the brain that allows your creativity to spring forth, your visionary abilities to rise, and use of your best critical and analytical thinking skills.
Assessing where you are, where you need to be, and how to get there should begin by providing a snapshot of wins and celebrations.
You will want to remind yourself as to what has worked well and what you used to achieve this so that you have a top-of-mind picture of the strengths you may use for moving forward.
The following framework is a positive and useful kick-off to your own personal planning, or your professional strategic planning process at the individual, team, and organizational levels.
Looking Back to Move Forward
- What accomplishments and milestones have I reached this year? The past 3-5 years?
- How would I like to celebrate these?
- What personal strengths and skills did I use in order to reach these achievements?
- What adversities and unexpected challenges have occurred during this time?
- How did I push through or move past these?
- How would I like to acknowledge myself for moving past these adverse occurrences?
- As I think about next year, what will be important to celebrate and the end of December?
- What are the top 1-3 goals I want target to achieve?
- To what will I say “no” in order to say “yes” to these? What critical shifts and conversations will need to take place?
- What personal strengths and skills will I use to make these things happen?
Once you have thoughtfully reflected on or discussed the answers to these questions, you will be in a positive and energetic frame of mind to move through your strategic planning process for 2018.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.