Average reading time – 4 minutes
When we look back over the past two years it can be very easy to think that there’s little point in planning beyond the coming week, if not the current day.
And for many leaders, the definition of long-term planning has changed from being about the next three years to the next 3 months.
But despite all of the challenges and constant change, I still believe it is better to set out with a plan knowing that it will change, than starting the year with no plan at all. Because the reality is, that if we’re not working to our plan, we’ll simply be working to someone else’s.
Pausing to review…and plan.
When December 31st 2022 arrives, will you look back on this year and judge it to have been a great year?
Or will you look back on it with a sense of frustration and disappointment?
Frustrated that you didn’t prioritize the right things?
Disappointed that you weren’t true to your purpose and core values?
Saddened that you weren’t the leader, parent, partner, or friend that you know you could have been?
Or annoyed that yet again, you’ve had to work longer, harder, and more frenetically to get everything done, meaning you’re left with a lingering feeling that you’ve missed out on some of the joy in life?
The good news is that this story isn’t yet written. There’s plenty of time to write a different one.
As Marcus Aurelius wrote;
“The longest and shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”
The only question that then remains is, how will we use the present?
I believe that the way many of us work, simply doesn’t work. I also believe that working longer, harder and faster isn’t the route to success, happiness or a life well-lived.
My personal experience, and the success stories from my clients, tell me that we need to slow down in order to speed up. We need to block out time in our diaries to scan the horizon, think, reflect and plan.
If we don’t, we will be condemned to constant fire-fighting and increased levels of stress; which aren’t conducive to peak performance, health, or happiness.
But how do we get off the busyness treadmill?
On a typical day, we are faced with choices between tasks with varying levels of urgency and importance. Recent research from the Journal of Consumer Research found that people often choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows, instead of larger tasks with larger outcomes.
Why? Because important tasks are more difficult and can’t quickly be ticked-off as complete, meaning we don’t get the same feel-good dopamine hit and immediate pay-off as we do with the more urgent tasks.
This is why pausing to plan is so hard and often gets consigned to the “if only I had time” category.
One of the tactics I share with my one-on-one mentoring clients focuses on helping them step-off the busyness treadmill in four weeks’ time, as opposed to attempting to change years of learned behaviours overnight.
If you’re serious about having a great 2022, here are some tips and tactics to help.
1. Schedule a Quarterly Review
Block out two to three hours in your diary at the end of each quarter to reflect and look ahead. Plan on being away from your primary place of work so that you’re not distracted by the day-to-day or urgent tasks. You’ll use this mission-critical leadership time to do the following:
- Review your core values.
- Review progress against your highest priorities for the year.
- Reflect and plan what you must do differently in the last three months of the year to be the leader, parent, partner, friend, or colleague that you want to be.
- Create your 90-Day Plan for the final three months of the year.
2. Schedule a Weekly Planning Session
Starting in 2-4 weeks’ time, schedule 30 minutes in your diary every Friday to scan two weeks ahead and make a plan for the coming week. You can learn more about the Weekly Planning Protocol via my short online course here for an investment of just £29.95 (or sign up for my FREE 10-4-10 Leadership Course and get a 25% discount code).
3. Schedule an Annual Review and Planning Session
Schedule at least half a day in your diary (preferably a full day) for late December. You’ll use this day to detach fully from the day-to-day, to “go dark” and disconnect from all social media and phone calls.
You’ll then focus on:
- reflecting deeply on the year that has passed
- gaining clarity on your highest priorities for the coming year
- mapping out your personal blueprint for an incredible year ahead
Once you’ve scheduled these events in your diary protect them and hold them sacrosanct just as you would a meeting with your most important client or your son or daughter’s first day at school!
Good luck stepping off the busyness treadmill.