“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This time of year it is popular to run planning days. These day/s sessions are designed to refocus us on the business after the end-of-year break and to prioritise actions for the new year. They are important discussions whether you are a business of one or a business of thousands; whether you are a start-up or an established organisation. The discussions may look different, depending on your size, industry, culture etc, yet all businesses should conduct some form of planning. And just as important is the ongoing review throughout the year of any actions from these discussions.
If these planning sessions are so important, why is it that many of you probably rolled your eyes or groaned when you read the first paragraph?
It’s because for many of us, the word ‘planning’ conjures images of boring monologues by senior executives, having to analyse data we are not interested in, or feeling frustrated to waste our time coming up with creative ideas that will never be implemented. In the same category of eye-rolling words you may also find ‘strategy’, ‘tactics’, ‘objectives’ and ‘critical success factors’. The outputs these words indicate are not bad – in fact, most companies would struggle to be effective without having the detail these words refer to. Yet these words for some reason do not inspire, energise or motivate many of us. And for some, they actually cause brain shut-down, leading to a sudden and extreme interest in doing anything BUT thinking about the detail behind these words!
There is no easy remedy to such feelings towards ‘planning’ and ‘strategy’ words. To progress in business, you will need to learn about and embrace such words and the actions and outcomes behind them. The purpose of this article is not to give you the run-down on the definitions and processes of business planning. The purpose here is to break it down to a simple starting point that removes eye-rolling, brain-shutdown words and kick-starts you to begin to think about the year ahead. And it comes down to allocating 5 minutes in your day. Starting with 5 minutes can get the ball rolling. Surely you can find 5 minutes?
So give yourself 5 minutes, find a place to sit where you will be undisturbed by others, grab a pen and paper to record your thoughts (we find the old-fashioned, organic way helps keep focus and connection to the work, yet if you must, you can use a digital device!) and complete the following, inserting the word/s most relevant to you:
- What I want for <myself/the business/my team> this year is…
Write down whatever comes to mind – you can cluster, prioritise and develop actions later. This is just the first 5 minutes to help you focus your mind on what you want from the year. Of course, what you do with the list after this exercise is incredibly important (topics for another day!) yet for many of us this first step is the hardest – the starting.
Just start with 5 minutes. And not an eye-rolling word in sight!
Happy new year!
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