At the end of the year, do you ever say, “I am never going to let that happen again” or “I’m not going to do that again”, only to find that history seems to repeat itself? I know I have hit the repeat button more than once. Even when I have clear vision of the results I am looking to achieve, communicating the vision to others and then working together to deliver the results is challenging. When things go wrong, it always traces back to one of the following:
- Lack of a proper plan
- Misalignment of resources needed to execute the plan
- Inappropriate timing or funding to carry out the plan
Turning the calendar to a New Year, too often we are focused on the world or personal circumstances that play into our businesses or careers, but nevertheless tend to cloud the mapping process if introduced too soon. What do I mean by this? Whichever president is sworn into office on January 20, 2021 will not change your vision or business needs. You may need a contingency plan to execute if expenses increase, compliance changes, or other factors change. The same would hold true if you found that a health issue required you to take a leave of absence. Similar to contingency planning, with project planning there should always be a backup.
One of the most important things you can do for your business and career these last few weeks of 2020 is to write down your vision for 2021. Your vision is not to be confused with your company’s “vision statement” or goals. Rather, it is a comparison of what your business looks like today, versus what you would like for it to be a year from now. This will not only give you the starting point to launch your vision with alignment for execution, but it will also give you something new to be grateful for next Thanksgiving, and a renewed excitement to plan for 2022.
As a Construction Company owner, you may write something like this:
December 2020: We are a Design-Build general contracting firm with 25 employees and have remained sustainable, with $25 million completed over the past two years at the same rate of profitability. We are going into the next year with the same backlog as last. We purchased new software for both accounting and project management, and have begun implementation. The executives did not have vacations this year. We had to lay off two support employees in the office, and did not proceed forward with our marketing and IT initiatives. We lost a long-time repeat client relationship due to a retirement and sale to another company. We were fortunate in that none of our employees were seriously ill this year. The overall culture of the company is positive and hopeful for the new year.
Company Vision: At the end of 2021, we will have increased completed work, project back-log, and profitability from 2020. We will have our website and social media programs in place, and maintain a program to keep them up to date. Our software conversions will not only be implemented, but we will also have clear SOPs in place, with someone leading the initiative on training for consistency. Our company culture remains positive and we have open communication to address challenges that arise during the year.
As an individual, you might write the following:
December 2020: Although I lost my job due to COVID lay-offs in September 2020, I am thankful for my new employment, even though it has slightly less compensation than my last position. I was able to take time off between the two jobs, which was helpful for my wife, children, and upkeep of the house. My family and I have remained healthy, and despite the challenges of home schooling, having my wife home with the children has been nice for the family, and I am thankful she chose to do so despite the challenge posed by the loss of a second income. I did not get to take my annual fishing trip with my friends, but I look forward to upcoming years. There are challenges with one of my new co-workers with communication, and I am struggling with the new reporting system.
Career Vision: At the end of 2021, I have been employed with the same company through the year, and feel stable and challenged. The relationships with my supervisor and co-workers have positively developed through my effort to communicate effectively and clearly. I spent extra time and asked for help with technology, and it paid off. My supervisor recognized my efforts and the success of my team and project. I have stability moving into the new year, and have receive bonuses, which helps my family. I was able to work out the timing, financial, and safety concerns to take my annual fishing trip. My wife was able to transition back to work with little effect on our family due to my ability to plan accordingly, and to be able to assist as work commitments allowed.
With a look back at 2020, a simple vision to look forward to 2021, and planning to take ownership of the part you can do when Thanksgiving 2021 rolls around, you have a written statement to look back on to celebrate the advancements you brought to life.