North stars and next steps

This time of year, I’m working with folks who are setting goals for the coming year. We might look back over last year’s goals, then look forward toward accomplishments for the coming year.

As we look back I hear a lot of, “Geeez, I forgot about that goal!” or “I don’t even know why I set that goal; it’s really not relevant anymore…”

It makes sense. A year is a long time to plan for! Businesses in the $1 million to $5 million range can see dramatic changes in 12 months. Predicting the environment you’ll be operating in, the clients you’ll be working with, or the team you’ll have around you is chancy at best.

There were many years I spent a good amount of time on detailed goals for the year, then worked backward, breaking those goals down into quarterly and monthly plans to accomplish those goals.

But things never went to plan. Never.

That’s why I’ve adopted a new method of goal setting, north stars and next steps.

Instead of creating concrete, measurable goals, I tend to think about what direction do I want to head in.

Those are my north stars, the landmarks that I want to navigate by.

Next Steps

Once I’ve laid out a few north stars (usually no more than 3), I can ask, “If I want to get to XYZ, what’s the next step I can take to get there?” Here I’m talking about small steps, things I can do this week.

Once I do that one thing, I do the next thing, and so on.

Not only do I not end up wasting a lot of time creating plans that don’t get executed, but I also find that I reach my goals more quickly and with less stress.

If you want to hear more about that approach, I talked about it on the Small Agency Talk Show. You can jump right in here.

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