At the beginning of this year, I had some very, very, very aggressive business targets for 2022. Grandiose, to be honest. And not without some supporting data. RocklandNews.com hit 15k viewers in a single month, we were getting tons of website projects done with ease, and profits were up!
I felt like I was able to elevate above all the day to day tasks, trusting my team to get it done, and report back to the clients when done, and me as needed.
Then summer came.
All of a sudden, business started drying up in cascades. Talks of a recession, housing market shifts, war overseas, and other external factors spooked many of our typical clients. To cite an example, one of our clients for the past ten years was looking forward to a multi-million dollar sale of their company to a Texas firm, but they pulled out of the deal.
My wings didn’t get clipped all at once. They were slowly trimmed, which is sometimes worse – because I didn’t even realize it was happening.
July is typically one of our three best months in terms of profits. This year, it was one of the worst. And struggling customers were slow to pay. Plus, they were asking more of mine and my team’s time.
When reality finally hit, I knew I needed to make a change. I decided to re-prioritize what matters to me and to my companies. I would encourage you to do the same, especially if you are struggling in your professional work.
Nearly 2 months later after this re-prioritization, I feel much more confident that we are in a good place to have a highly net-positive final quarter of the year. We’re focused on what will get us to the finish line.
The following steps are going to be different for each person and for each company, but they are overall simple steps to help you prioritize what matters:
Block out time – You can’t figure out what is going wrong, or how to fix it, if you are constantly scrambling to fulfill others’ requests. Block out an entire morning or afternoon. Do not let email, messages, phone calls, appointments, visits or other distractions get in the way. I recommend at least three hours.
Get yourself in a good mood – When you’re feeling bad about yourself, your work, your company, or other aspects of your professional life, it’s tough to be objective about how to fix the problem. That’s why you feel great on day one of your return from vacation. So get a good full 8 hours of sleep the night before, have a great breakfast, get in some moderate exercise, do some prayer/meditation, and perhaps some light reading.
Decide what you want to accomplish – Within a set amount of time (3, 6, 12 months), decide what you want to win at. Lay out 3-5 goals, max. Obviously for your company, organization or cause you need to decide if it’s feasible. But get it all written down first. Preferably on one page or one document. Don’t overthink this. Instinct will matter, as well as reasoning.
List the challenges for each goal – Nothing is a straight path to the finish line. You need to figure out at very least the biggest risk factors for each item
Prioritize your goals – This part is very important. According to the late Stephen Covey, “It’s not about prioritizing your schedule, it’s about scheduling your priorities.” So rank them before you put them in your calendar
Remove the unnecessary goals – You have to say no to some things, in order to get what you need done, accomplished. So be merciless with the other items that don’t fit in your priorities. The more you can delete, the better.
Schedule your priorities – As mentioned above, block out time for each of your priorities each week. If you are in business for a while, this will be more difficult than if you just started, but equally as important. So block out the time to get the work done. I recommend at least one solid hour per day, around the time that you are at your peak energy level. Don’t let anything else get in the way of that magic hour.
Consider this: 1 hour a day during the workweek is approximately 5 hours per week, 20 hours a month, 60 hours per quarter, or 240 hours per year working on your goals. It adds up.
Do the work – This is difficult for many people. I know I struggle with it often. But bottom line, you don’t need to solve the entire riddle of your problem today, to achieve your goal. You just need to get a little bit closer to it.
Look at your results – Don’t forget this step, schedule it in along with your work that you do. Every quarter (at very least), look at how much closer you are to your goal. Like I mentioned, there were several things that I knew I could not accomplish by the time I got to July, so I reassessed for the rest of the year. My focus is much tighter now.
By the end of this year, I can’t say for sure if we will hit all our business targets that I set at the beginning of the year. In hindsight, they may have been quite lofty. But after the methods I described above, I am very confident that we will knock the priorities out of the ballpark, based on the work we’ve been doing. In the meantime, RocklandNews.com hit 20k viewers in one month, and we started five new web projects, ones that are more manageable than those we endured over the summer.
I would strongly urge you to take the time to re-prioritize what matters most, on a consistent basis! If you need some more free advice on how to achieve your goals and dreams, click here for two free books from myself and my colleague, Irene Gutmann!