Fellow strategic planners will sing in unison that first quarter is our favorite. We’re in our happy place making plans, building out a new vision, and focusing on how to execute strategy.

This time of year can be invigorating! But it can also quickly become overwhelming. At the start of a new calendar year, the possibilities and opportunities for growth feel endless. The sky is the limit! It’s time to dream big — certainly bigger this year than last year!

And then by February, if you’re not careful, you’ll be swimming in the busyness of trying to do all the things. 

Excitement can quickly lead to being overwhelmed. Why?

If you’re not hyper-focused on a couple of big initiatives, you’ll get swept away by all the other busy work.

Despite “shiny distraction” syndrome, the best plan is to focus at the beginning of the year. Yes, make your big to-do list, set goals for growth, and dream big. But then focus on what’s most important to your business.

Strip it down

If you could only accomplish one thing in the next year, what would it be?

What if you only had three things, but you had to execute them perfectly?

How much time would you devote?

How much energy would you commit to each project?

Stripping back to focus on a few key items gives you the room to really commit to a path and execute with creativity and purpose. It allows you to be flawless. That focus keeps you from drowning in the busy. 

Don’t be busy. Be intentional.

Say no to distractions

Saying no is hard. We say yes way too often to additional responsibilities, especially if it’s something that excites us — or we think will only take a “minute”.

The problem is that if it’s not serving your key initiatives, then it’s stealing time and energy from where it’s really needed. Even if it only takes 30 minutes – is that 30 minutes you don’t spend working on your objectives? And how many times do you say yes? All those 30 minute distractions can add up quickly.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t help others. And there’s no shame in spending 30 minutes scrolling mindlessly through scocial media from time to time! But, weigh the cost and remind yourself of your intentions. At the end of the year, is your review going to show you achieved what you set out to? Was your work flawless? Did it exceed expectations? Did you feel good about where you landed? Or did busyness get in the way of accomplishing something big?

Don’t let little distractions mess with your plan. Stay on the path. Stay focused.

Set your Big Three priorities

Setting the top three priorities for the year gives you a compass to be able to always find your way back to true north. This year, my Big Three are :

  • Thought Leadership
  • Coaching to results
  • Using Key Performance Indicators to inform the top two

Looking at that list, my knee-jerk reaction is to keep going — and add more to my list! These can’t be my only priorities, right? What else can I do? How else can I add value? I have a whole year. Maybe I should stretch to five or even ten… 

No! I know that the successful execution of my Big Three will have a massive impact on my organization. I also know that the Big 3 are so much bigger than they look. They’ll require lots of tactics, different approaches, multiple stakeholders, and several bottles of wine!

Adding to my list would only limit the time I’d be able to devote to delivering. I would get lost in the busyness before we’re even out of Q1 — and there is way too much to accomplish in 2022 to let that happen!

So set your Big Three priorities for the year and then focus on strategy and execution. 

Urgent vs Priority

When items of urgency show up in our inbox, we jump. We jump high and we jump far.

We’ve all been there. We jump on the urgency bandwagon, drop what we’re doing, and put out the fire. Even if it’s not our fire to put out — and that’s where we get into trouble.

The more empathetic you are, the worse you do in this area. When urgent issues arise, pause and assess how invested you should be.

  1. Is this even your issue?
  2. Are you capable of solving it?
  3. Which is more important – the urgent issue or your other priorities?
  4. What would happen if instead of managing the urgent, you stayed committed to the priority?
  5. Can this urgent issue be addressed by someone else? Or later in your day?
  6. Is it even truly urgent?

Before you stop working on your priority, consider whether it’s worth it to step away for urgency.

The New Year is full of potential and building your strategic plan is key to seeing success in 2022. Stay focused on what is the most important and will add the highest value by keeping it simple, saying no to distractions, and setting your big picture priorities. 

If you are in the process of developing an intentional strategic plan for your business, our team at mConnexions can help you stay focused. Reach out to our experts to learn more about how we can help.