Essential 2018 Questions to Answer Right Now

The holidays are busy! Client and work commitments needed your attention yesterday. Your personal list of to do’s is growing by the minute. The most wonderful time of the year is bursting with wonderfulness.

Yet, making time to pause and think can pave the way for a better holiday and success in the new year. Consider these questions before you wrap up your year:

Do have I have time planned in December to look back and get ahead of 2018? The best plans and personal goals come after time to pause and really think. As you plan your calendar over the next few weeks, block time to answer these questions and others. Start thinking about 2018 now before you have to create a real plan.

What did I accomplish this year? Who needs to know? This is the most common miss I see in managing up. You feel you’ve had a great year! You’ve reduced turnover, came in under budget and integrated the newly acquired service seamlessly. Surely, everyone knows – right? Maybe not.

Remind your managers and others what you accomplished this year. Create an accomplishments note, set an end of year status to review results and progress as you plan for 2018. This isn’t bragging – just sharing the facts to be sure very busy people don’t miss it.

Who needs to understand unplanned changes that affected my performance or results this year? (e.g., your manager, investors, etc.) If your priorities changed as the year unfolded, consider who needs to know or be reminded of the revised results now. A colleague shared that she was disadvantaged in last year’s performance review for not completing a goal even though her manager had fully agreed to the delay earlier in the year.

Most business leaders have a lot to manage, so don’t assume others remember the specifics of your objectives. Be proactive and create a reminder now as the year wraps up.

What did I learn this year? What do I need to learn that I don’t know? Don’t forget this one. Learning is how you continue to grow and increase your impact at work and in your career. If it’s too difficult to answer this question – you probably have your answer. The world is changing too much for you not to have a learning and growth plan – no matter your level or years of experience. Also, conferences, budgets for coaching or training are often determined at year-end – so if they are critical to your learning plan, speak up now.

What situation or individual(s) had the most impact on your success this past year? How does that affect 2018? What situations made a real difference for you? Who was your personal Time Person of the Year? What sponsorship helped you accomplish something big? And, what situations created a new opportunity or enabled progress? Think about this looking backward and then carry those forward into next year.

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Who was your personal Time ‘Person of the Year’?

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What advice would I give myself if I could go back in time to January 2017? How is that relevant to next year? Roll the clock back to the first of this year. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? Maybe you tried to do too much; you overpromised or were too dependent upon others that didn’t come through for you. How can you take that knowledge and carry it forward so you learn from the past year?

What do I need to leave behind in 2017? We all have failures, misses and habits to change. What do you need to let go of and know it’s behind you? A job that didn’t work out, a bad hire or missed expectations are in the past. Determine how to move forward and not repeat in the future. Make small changes to move you forward and build on them.

Do I have the resources to deliver what is expected of me next year? (e.g., people and budget) Many organizations plan their budgets and resources for 2018 now. Be sure your resources align with your objectives. So many leaders get caught by assuming this disconnect will work out later rather than negotiating how to align these two up front. It’s like committing to drive everyone on next summer’s vacation road trip when you have no car and only 2 days of vacation and hoping it will all work out. The longer you wait the harder it gets. Now is the time to do that homework and prepare.

How will I recharge this holiday and have the right perspective for 2018? After Thanksgiving, a friend, in a very demanding role, told me she couldn’t wait to get back to work and “relax” because nothing is as hectic as hosting everyone for five days. As you make commitments to relatives and shop for everyone this holiday – remember yourself. Remember what you enjoy and fulfills you, not just what everyone else expects. Not only is remembering your needs good for your mental health, but it will give you a fresh perspective as you ring in the new year.

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Remember what you enjoy and fulfills you, not just what everyone else expects.

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What am I grateful for right now?  Maybe you are in the job you dreamed of 5 years ago, have the relationships you always wanted and a family that isn’t perfect – but that loves you and is there for you. Most of you overachievers are always thinking of the next thing, what could be better, and what to tackle next year. Be present today. Gratefulness can change everything.

Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults. She can be followed @PattiBJohnson or @People_Results.

Patti Johnson