New Year, Now What?

By M. Ann Gray

The new year brings a fresh start. It’s a great time for detailed strategic planning to map out how you want this year to go for you – both personally and professionally. It does not have to be all about resolutions. However, It’s a great time to ask some tough questions and start building momentum for whatever goals you have set.

Building momentum through planned implementation steps is so crucial. This year’s success will depend on it! Business momentum is important because the actions you take in the first quarter could sustain you throughout the entire year!

It’s easy to let the first quarter go by without meeting any goals, then find yourself playing catch-up all year. It happens to the best of us. Building momentum by starting now is all about tackling the goals early by setting up the implementation steps.

We all know how the resolutions game work, right? Vision board, goals, lose weight, travel more, and grow the business/career….

It’s time to map out exactly how you will meet goals every single day, week, month. Each day, you should be doing something toward your goals. It is possible.

You need the right plan, the action, and the momentum. Which means, it starts now. Here are some places to start:

1. Analyze the last year. The last 2-3 years, actually. It couldn’t hurt. Data accumulates, circumstances change. Your analysis of the previous year should become a large part of future success. Conduct real assessments. Turn the previous year’s activities, successes, and challenges into numbers that you can calculate. Collect the data so you can improve how you measure and track this year’s success. What time did you put in? How many hours did you work? How productive were you? How many contacts did you make? How

2. Ask real questions – and actually answer them! Write them down. Use them. The answers to your questions should contribute to this year’s goals. What promises did you make last year? What goals did you set? What were the results? What went well? What can you now automate? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about your team? What are the new priorities? What are the challenges in your plan? What is the plan to overcome the challenges? What does success look like? When will you know when the goal has been met? Will it take all year? Do you have tracking and measures to gauge the success?

3. Take inventory of the tools and materials you have [and need] to meet this year’s goals. Again, this applies to personal and professional goals. This is where I usually zoom in to go MUCH deeper with clients. There are solutions all around you for gaining the tools and materials you need to be successful. The excuses may seem very real until you plan very specific ways to get around the obstacles. That may require a third party to help you brainstorm the growth solutions. That is the value of consultants, mentors, and coaches.

Your inventory assessment should include the following questions: What are your team’s strengths and weaknesses? Are the tools you’re using sufficient? Your website, your answering service, social media, etc. What about your physical office – is it sufficient for your productivity goals? Do you have business cards that you are satisfied with? What is your capacity – Can you get to networking events, clients, meetings in a reliable and realistic way? What technological tools are you using for growth? Have you/will you invest in tools that improves the customer experience?

4. Take action!!! Remember the difference between a business plan and strategic plan. The business plan is WHAT you plan to do. The strategic plan is HOW you plan to do it. Your business plan is more of an external tool that you submit to third parties such as banks for a loan. The strategic plan is more of an internal tool. The strategic plan is the key to your business growth from the inside, out. Your strategic plans must include action steps for every single aspect of the business goals. Then it’s time to take action!

These steps are just a start. A 12-month strategic plan digs into the process and systems used, the benchmarks, measures, and evaluation on a consistent basis. Productivity plays a large part in the strategic plan also. Once you plan your steps and take action, the momentum you build will help throughout the entire year.

Ann Gray is the founder of Gray Strategy Consultants. She can be reached at