How to plan for next year to make big things happen

 
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What is strategic planning?

We all know the important of goal setting, right? But how often do we sit down and plot out how we will reach those goals?

If you didn’t accomplish as much this year as you’d hoped, I’d suggest doing strategic planning for next year. This process ensures you’ll accomplish more and be much happier about how the year went.

Strategic planning essentially lays out how you will reach your goals by being intentional about where you’re focusing your efforts. You’ll dig into your priorities and set a specific action plan.

Doing strategic planning ensures that when you get to end of the year and look back at your goals you don’t think, well that didn’t happen. Don’t wish you had done more throughout the course of the year. Instead, be intentional about what next year will look like so you are proud of what you accomplish and can really start living your ideal life.

Strategic planning to reach big goals

I have big ass goals (if you’re curious, I lay out my actual 4-year goal at the end of this article), which means I need to do BIG THINGS next year to start working my way there. I know I need to be more intentional in planning for the new year to make this happen.

I’ve dabbled with different ways to plan for the future in the past - following strategic planning and goal-setting guidance from some of my online “mentors” like Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher, and Pia Silva. While they all have great guidance, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I work best this year and decided to craft my own frankensteined process - infusing best practices with my own strategic flair. Here’s the process I used.

Schedule time for strategic planning

I blocked off an entire day and made sure I had a gigantic whiteboard because I know that I think and plan best through whiteboarding. I like to do this towards the end of the year so I am ready to go right when the new year begins.

I also like to do this with other people if possible. My new marketing strategist and friend, Ashley Anderson, decided to join me this year. She knows me, my work, my process, AND she’s a marketing expert and fellow big dreamer.

It’s not only great to do this with someone who knows you and your business, but is also ideally somewhat an optimist or big dreamer. Do this with someone who is risk-averse or too focused on the short term and you’ll leave with a ho-hum, watered-down, too-easy plan for next year. Do this with a big-thinking cheerleader and you’ll leave with a big and stretching vision to knock next year outa the park.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this

Before you begin, always remind yourself why you’re doing this and what your long-term vision is. This will help focus your mind in the right direction.

I wrote down my big, stretching 4-year FAIM goal along with my mission, purpose, vision, and values. They are always front and center when I do strategic work like this. Rewriting these things over and over again (versus just reading them) helps cement them in my mind.

If you don’t have a mission statement yet, download my free guide to help you write one below.

Learn from the past

You should also look back before looking forward. You can learn a lot by digging into the last 12-months before planning out the next twelve.

I reflected on the past year, doing a brain dump of all the positives and negatives. Here are a few of the positives from my list:

  • Consistently created valuable content

  • Setup efficient systems for my business

  • Dedicated regular time to deep strategic thinking

Here are a few things I was not happy with this year:

  • Lacked strong SEO

  • Not profitable enough

  • Did not have a coach or strategist to push me

I also dug into the numbers in detail. Since I officially launched this business in June, I didn’t have a full year of clean financials to work with, but it was still helpful. Next year I will be focusing on this part a lot more.

Plan for the future

Before you let your practical side take over, take a moment to dream big with a brainstorm. This will help expand your thinking and help you set more stretching goals - which is important.

Say you set a goal to make $50,000 and you reach that goal. Great! You’ve reached your goal. But say you set a more stretching goal of $100,000 and you hit $75,000. You didn’t reach your goal but you still make $25,000 MORE than if you had set your goal lower. The key takeaway here? Dream big and set stretching goals.

Also, don’t just focus on the numbers, also focus on the things that will help you reach those numbers like your mindset, process, rhythm, etc.

With these things in mind, here’s the exact process I used to do my strategic planning this year.

Dream Big

I started by dreaming big for next year, brainstorming what I would love to happen. I had already thought about this a lot, so it went pretty quick, but if you haven’t spent much time on this before, set a timer to give yourself the time to dream big. The crappy stuff always comes out first - just write it down so it’s out of your head. Once the crap is out, then the good stuff comes. To make sure you get to this good stuff, I’d suggest setting a timer for at least 15-minutes and don’t stop brainstorming until your time is up. You should have at least 20 things, if not much more. If things are still coming to mind at the end of your time, keep going!

Rate It

When I exhausted my list, I gave each item a score 0-10 (10 was best) based on how excited I was about it and how confident I was in being able to make it happen.

Bucket Them

Then I identified themes amongst my top-rated items. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Things I rated highest had to do with mindset and process improvements - how I wanted to do better and be better (like being in flow 50% of the time, being an amazing financial manager, etc.). I also want to continue to learn about my needs and how I operate so I can setup effective systems around this.

  • Increasing profitability was also a big theme.

  • I want better sales momentum (ie. switching from 1:1 sales to a more automatic sales funnel and getting more exposure).

  • I need to continue to build credibility, authority, and thought leadership.

Get Specific

Next, you’ll want to lay out details such as what you’re specifically going to do, how you’re going to do it, and what success looks like (set specific success measures so you know when you’ve accomplished this and can track your progress).

I laid out the specifics for each of my bucket items:

  • How my mindset, approach, planning, processes, and analysis will be different (for example I will track financials and KPIs weekly and analyze monthly)

  • How I will increase profitability (for example, I will launch on online course)

  • What my sales funnel will look like (for example, I will improve my SEO by doing keyword research for all my content)

  • What is required to build credibility, authority, and thought leadership and what success looks like (for example, how large I’d like my email list to be, how many speaking gigs I’d like to do, etc.)

Motivate & Celebrate

This is something that I haven’t done yet, but plan to go back and add in - when you’ve hit each success measure, how will you celebrate?

This will not only help motivate you, but make it all seem worth it when you’ve hit your goals. I believe it’s important to celebrate both the big and small things. This ensures you recognize the amazing work you did, get a little happy boost, and are pushed to reach even further.

Schedule It

Then we scheduled out the year to include what major work, launches, and campaigns will happen when. For example, I’ll be spending Q1 developing my course with a launch to follow.

Don’t forget to chart out things from your personal life. For example, if you’re going on a big vacation in July, perhaps don’t plan a big launch around that time…

Follow-up

We set a time in the future when we were going to check-in on our progress and refresh things. I decided to do this halfway through the year towards the end of June with a mid-year strategic planning refresh.

I will also do goal-setting quarterly and monthly, with weekly priority planning.

Make it happen

At the end of the day, we laid out next steps. There were some follow-up items I needed to tackle to really set me up for success including developing a budget, laying out KPI’s, and mapping out my content calendar.

I need to also schedule regular time to track and analyze things (a major focus for me next year), delegate some things (like marketing work to Ashley), and then execute!

In a nutshell

Why strategic planning is important

It’s so important to be intentional with your work. If you don’t goal set and setup a strategic plan for how to make it happen, you can definitely still accomplish good things - but I would put money on it that you could have done even BETTER things had you spend a day or two planning it all out.

It may feel difficult to block a whole day or more to do this work, but in the grand scheme of helping you with the remaining 364 days of the year - I’d say 0.27% of the year’s time doing it will be well spent.

If possible, try to do this BEFORE the new year starts, so you can begin with full momentum!

Strategic planning process overview

Let me lay it out for you incase you’d like to follow the same process I used.

  1. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this. If you have a mission, purpose, vision, values, or 3-5 year goal, pull all those out and review them before you begin to get your head in the right place.

  2. Learn from the past. Reflect on the positives and negatives of the last twelve months including digging into the numbers

  3. Plan for the future.

    1. Dream big. Brainstorm all the things you’d love to happen next year.

    2. Rate it. Give each item two scores - excitement and confidence.

    3. Bucket them. Identify important themes and patterns that paint a bigger picture of what you want to accomplish next year.

    4. Get specific. For each of those themes and patterns, lay out details like what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and what success looks like.

    5. Motivate and celebrate. How will you treat yourself when you reach your success measures?

    6. Schedule it. Write out what important things will happen when, such as major development work, launches, campaigns, and events (including personal things).

    7. Follow-up. Decide when you’re going to do a check-in such as half-way through the year and shorter-term goal setting.

  4. Make it happen. Lay out specific next steps that’ll help you get started. Note whether you’re going to do it or delegate it.

How do you plan for the year?

Do you have a process you use already? If so, tell me about it in the comments below. If not, try this one out and let me know how it goes.

Do you have the foundation set to do this work?

Remember how I said you should start with reminding yourself why you’re doing this work? If you don’t already have a mission statement, write your own with my guide, How to Write a Killer Mission Statement (with examples). You can download it for free below.

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stacy kessler - pathfinding strategist

Hey There!

I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.

 

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