End-of-year tasks

You probably have a list of tasks you must accomplish before the end of the year. Wrapping up some billable work, making a few final holiday get-togethers, perhaps a few last-ditch but gentle calls to encourage clients to pay their invoices before year’s end.

Adding these two year-end tasks will significantly benefit you as you start the new year: 

  • Revise your biographical sketch to reflect this year’s accomplishments, and
  • Do a simple review of your 2016 business development activities to guide next year’s efforts.

Your biographical sketch is almost certainly the most-viewed page on your website. Updating it isn’t busywork: it’s a way of letting people know that you continue to improve your professional reach and achievements. An out-of-date bio sketch suggests and out-of-date practice. Review this post I wrote in 2009 and Chapter 4 of the The Reluctant Rainmaker to walk through the steps to ensure that your sketch does what it needs to.

End-of-year planning can take many forms. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What was your objective and top priority this year? You must start with this question, because results are meaningful only in the context of your objectives. For example, my goal this year was business maintenance and writing while caring for a family member who is in home hospice. Achieving maintenance would feel completely different had my objective been to grow the business.
  • What worked? What got you closer to your objectives? What required the least effort while bringing good results?
  • What didn’t work? Which activities either didn’t bring you the desired results or required effort that’s out of measure with the results attained?
  • What’s your objective for this year? I like to boil my objective down to a single word that can act as a litmus test when I’m deciding what to do. As noted, my 2016 word was maintain. It kept me from drawing back too far or pushing forward too strongly. I haven’t yet committed to a word for 2017, but candidates include growth (growth in my business and professional growth), reach (growing my platform), and communicate (building stronger professional relationships and also writing and speaking more).
  • What will you continue, stop, and start doing to meet your objective? Your 2016 analysis will give you the first two answers, then you can brainstorm your new routes to 2017’s objectives.

The key to planning well is to make it a means to an end. In other words, what comes from your planning should be a document that you will refer to and tweak throughout the year, not a “one and done” effort.

Set aside some time to complete these two tasks now so you can enter 2017 with a clean slate and a clear direction. And then, enjoy your holidays!

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