We’ve been seeing much more of our dog recently.
I say our dog, he’s Kay’s dog. When she and her husband separated. They decided Rodney, (the dog’s name, not her ex-husband) should live with Kay’s parents. He’s not great alone and he’s not a fan of being in the car either. That’s the thing with rescues, you end up with all sorts of neurotic tendencies.
Anyway, we do our best to have Rodney over to stay as much as possible. He loves us unconditionally. Especially when bribed with biscuits and it means I get to take him for long walks.
These walks have become a bit of a habit when I’m looking after him. I’ve realised that they do more than give me a chance to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.
They give me time to think.
We spend so much time doing, with our heads buried in the next task or project that we forget to come up for air.
When your head is down like that and you’re consumed by what you’re doing you don’t take the time to see where you’re going. There’s no point bending your back to make your boat go faster if it’s going in the wrong direction.
I write this during that ever-long period of time between Christmas and New year. When you don’t know what day of the week it is, let alone the date. On a dog walk yesterday. It was Wednesday – I think. I spent time thinking about the next several months.
Now, I didn’t find myself thinking about New Year resolutions and grand plans for 2019. I’m currently in the middle of my quarter two. My plans are unfolding for my year already.
I run September – August.
There are no resolutions to set or grand plans to create – I’m already working through them.
Yes, I’ve time to think but I was thinking about quarter three. What needs to happen in March and beyond.
I’ve had 12 – 18 months laid out three to four months in advance. What I’m doing now is turning up.
I know once I’m over the turkey hump and meeting people, they’ll be telling me about their 2019 goals and plans. How they’re inspired and ready for a new start. In January they will be putting everything in place.
And then there will be those who don’t plan at all.
They start the New Year with a few vague promises whilst holding a champagne flute on New Year’s Eve.
“2019 is the year I’ll make the business work”.
Before you know it, January becomes February and they’ve lost a sixth of the year already.
It’s all catch up from that point on.
You see, when it comes to planning next year, you should treat it like you’re preparing for Christmas Day. Now, as much as it winds me up. Some people (you know who you are) start planning for Christmas in September or even August. It’s the right thing to do.
I’m a bit last minute when it comes to Christmas and birthdays. But, I don’t treat my business or how I organise my life like that. It’s planned, early. In advance. Meticulously.
I know that when next September rolls around, I won’t sit at my desk and think “hmmm what must I do today?”
I’ll know. I’ll have planned in June.
The work I’ll be doing over the next few weeks was set in October.
Planning is essential to being effective, to get more of the right things done. When you do more of the right things, you make the right progress.
When you do more of the right things, you feel a sense of accomplishment.
When you do more of the right things, that sense of accomplishment and progress drives you to want more.
It becomes a good habit. What’s more, you start to say no to the wrong things and that means you have even more time for the right things.
How do you know what the right things are? Well, how do you know what you want as a present for Christmas?
No one ever asks you what you need for Christmas (apart from turkey). They ask what you want.
So, ask yourself, what do you want from next year? Then, plan the activities that will enable you to achieve those goals.
Use your 90-minute slots or chunks of time in the week and dedicate those slots to working on those activities.
It’s that simple.
Back to my regular walks. These are a great way to take some time out, stop, think and reflect. They give me a chance ask myself a few questions and see what answers come back to me. Questions like:
What do I want from my business? What kind of social life do I want? What new things do I want to do, what do I want to do more of and what shall I stop doing? What holidays do I want?
I’m always thinking about these questions. Sometimes I don’t get answers straightaway. The process of asking the question, going for a walk always delivers an answer at some point.
I also use the time to make sure I’m reflecting on the things I’ve achieved. It’s easy to complete projects, win work and have little successes. But we don’t take time to see how we achieved them.
To ask yourself what it was you did that delivered those results. To reward yourself for those results and work out how you can improve on them the next time.
I know the last twelve months has brought progress. I know that me, my life and my business have evolved, grown and developed.
It doesn’t matter that you’re reading this in February. If you’ve not planned the rest of this year, it’s not too late. Start now, today and keep doing it. Ignore dates such as New Year, they’re made up to give us a sense of structure and order. You can choose your own…
Will 2019 also be one of progress?
Or, will it be one of last-minute panic, frustration and hard work moving in the wrong direction?
Put aside some time to plan this year. It brings clarity. It brings a sense of purpose. Most of all it ensures you’re rowing in the direction that’s right for you, your life and your business.