My Vision and Planning Process for 2023
If you’re reading this blog during the week it’s been published, it’s quite likely you’re still in holiday mode. Maybe you’re all cozy and warm in front of a fireplace somewhere with your family or friends. Or maybe you’re off on a warm, beach holiday. Maybe you’re spending some time working on your house and having a stay-cation. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and that 2023 is looking much brighter for you than the previous three years! I hope you’re feeling well rested and ready for this New Year, and that if there are lessons for you to learn — they are kind and easy to learn.
In the spirit of a new year, I thought I’d share my vision and planning process with you. Perhaps you’re already organised and you got your business plan for 2023 done in November or December before the holidays and you are ready to hit the ground running when you get back to work.
For me, I was busy with the annual launch of my ‘Get More Clients Saying Yes’ course — which I run for 8 weeks, and is then followed by ‘Business from the Heart Experience week’. It’s a fun time of the year where I let new people into the ‘Business from the Heart membership’ to experience what it’s like to be in my membership for a week for free. From there, we opened the doors to the membership with an enrollment week, followed by a welcome week for new members. And then, I had the fun task of planning and preparing for the Hearties end of year Christmas party which was great fun to meet up with so many of my community members in person. All of this exciting activity kept me busy right into mid December and befoer I knoew it, it was time to pack and head off to Morocco for my holiday, so I wasn’t able to sit down and do my business planning for 2023.
I’ve only just got my planning for 2023 done, and when better to share my process with you than at the very start of a fresh new year?!
But, even if you’re still in holiday mode and only get round to your planning in February, that’s okay — it’s not too late!
I’d hate for you to get to February or even March and tell yourself something like:
“I haven’t done my year’s planning yet so there’s no point in starting now.”
Because the clarity and focus it gives you will make a huge difference to the rest of your year, and after all February/March is just a date. You’ve got a big vision to achieve and great work to do, is it really going to matter that you “get there” 2 months later than if you’d “hit the ground running” in January?? Of course it isn’t!
Having a clear plan for the year helps you to focus and motivates you. You’ll feel that you have renewed energy and vitality. I hope you have your post-its at the ready!
And in fact, you can revisit your plan at any time you need a boost of motivation, and clarity about your priorities. I take the Hearties (the wonderful people in my Business from the Heart membership) through this process twice a year in a live workshop, and have a video series taking people through the process that they can access at any time they need a refocus.
Here’s my Planning Process for 2023:
Let me share with you the steps that I follow to do my own planning every year.
Step 1: Read “The One Thing” by Gary Keller
I’m a huge fan of this book. When I first read it, it wasn’t so much an eye-opener as a reinforcement of what I’ve always instinctively known — that trying to do too much and focusing on too many projects at once leads to doing none of them well, a huge amount of frustration and eventually burn out. I’ve always been pretty good at focusing my attention on just one thing at a time but this book was an important reminder and really helps me streamline my focus and reduce overwhelm. I highly recommend it — especially if you are someone whose natural tendency is to try and spread your time across multiple projects.
Step 2: Get your planning “bits and pieces” ready
Next, gather together what you’ll need to get into planning and creative mode. For me, this is a very large sheet of paper (A1 or A2), a bunch of small and large post-it notes and some blu-tack to stick it to the wall (but you can do the same thing with a sheet of A4 and some small size post-its if that’s easier to get your hands on). You’ll also need a journal or notebook to hand to create your vision and capture your many ideas. Divide the paper up into months and quarters, 3 months per row (see the image further down). Then you’re good to go.
Step 3: Get clear on your Vision
When I work with my clients on this I like to take them through a “closed eye” process to help them to tune into their vision for their life and business in 2-3 years from now. They then use this to guide the direction of the year to come. For me, planning is a combination of having a big vision for what I want to achieve, plus understanding the very practical steps that I need to take if I’m going to get there.
And of course, it’s important to set clear milestones along the way so you can measure (and celebrate!) your progress – even the small steps. Taking time to get clear on where you are going is an important part of the process.
Step 4: Set your Theme for the year
This isn’t necessarily a strictly business theme (though it might be e.g. it might be “sales mastery”, “collaboration”, “consistency” or “focus”) — I like to choose themes that work in the wider context of my life but impact my business. One year it was “Space”, another Play”. Last year it was “Hands off” to remind me to leave the team to get on with their work and not waste my own time and take myself out of flow by constantly dipping in to do tasks or “help out”. This year it’s “Reach more people”. Write the theme you choose right at the very top of your sheet.
Step 5: Set your Overall Focus for the year
The overall focus is a clear business goal that you want to achieve. This gets written across the top of the sheet underneath your Theme. This is like having ‘One Thing’ for the whole year. This One Thing will guide all of your other decisions. This is the One Thing that if you were to achieve it, will make all of your efforts worthwhile, and that also by pursuing it, you will see knock-on benefits across your business as a whole. Knowing that One Thing that you are working towards helps to focus your other activities and helps you know what opportunities and ideas are genuinely good ones and what to say no to.
Step 6: Braindump
The next step is to brain dump all of your goals and ideas — and I mean all of them. ALL the things you want to achieve in 2023. ALL the things you know you “should” be doing but are not. ALL the things you want to do because you know they’ll impact your business positively in the long term but you are not getting around to them. ALL the crazy ideas for new projects. Get it all down, a post-it note for each one. Yes, there will be a lot, but that’s the point — only when you’ve got them all out of your head and on to a post-it can you go about organising and prioritising them.
Step 7: Add your Post-it items to your Planner
Add your post-it notes to your planner, allocating each one to a particular month. The challenge here is to have just one key focus per month!
Here are some guidelines for doing this:
Put the important things in first.
I like to put my holidays in first as these are the things I will let slip if I don’t plan them in advance. Then I put in any other key projects that are fixed. For example, I have my annual launch of my Get More Clients Saying Yes! course in September – so my “one thing” for September becomes the launch, and then my “one thing” for October is delivering on that programme. These get fixed into the plan in advance.
The aim is to have JUST ONE key focus per month.
This allows you to see that you don’t have to fit everything that belongs in your “ideas bank” in by next Tuesday! This is what leads to overwhelm and spinning your wheels. Instead, you can see visually that you have a whole year ahead of you (and guess what — there’s another one coming along straight after that!), so it doesn’t all have to be done at once.
This process also allows you to see where you are taking on and committing to too much — which is where you hit overwhelm and frustration.
As an example, my “One Things” for the first half of this year are:
February: Back-end Foundations — putting in new place new systems, processes and people to make the rest of the year run smoothly
March: Improvements to the Business from the Heart membership
April: Launch new podcast (and holiday!)
May: Launch GMCSY course and Business from the Heart Membership
June: Marketing — with specific focus on SEO
By doing it this way, I know what my core focus is every month and it helps me to protect those things that are the highest priority in achieving my long-term vision. Then if an “unmissable” opportunity comes along, or I realise I want to change tack, rather than trying to fit in too much I can reassess. Either I’ll prioritise the One Thing and say no to the opportunity or idea, or I’ll decide to run with the new thing and rearrange my post-it plan to make space for it – maybe by moving my launch along by a month. Or moving my Podcast to the futurelog.
It has to work for you and your life. For example, if, like a lot of my community, you’re a mum, you might want to have just 3 “quarters” to follow the school terms. You can make any tweaks to adapt it to work for you.
Okay, okay I’ll come clean. I don’t really have just “one thing” per post-it, per month (though I do try). Some months I have two. That’s because the reality is that there often is more than one priority and both need equal attention. That’s just the reality. But I try and make sure that if I have 2 (or sometimes even 3!) “One Things” in a particular month and that it is entirely realistic, that I’m able to complete them in that month.
Step 8: Set up your Heartbeat
The heartbeat or “rhythm” of your business is the stuff that needs to happen regularly all year round to keep your business on track. These don’t go into particular months because they are happening all the time, so I leave space for the heartbeat along the bottom of my sheet.
For me, this includes:
Creating weekly content — a video or blog article
Nurturing and developing joint venture and partner relationships
Exercise — I have to put this visually on my plan to make sure it happens!
For you, this could be making 20 sales calls each week, spending 30 minutes networking on social media daily, or doing your weekly Facebook Live.
This becomes the rhythm and heartbeat that you do all year round that keeps the business alive.
I don’t include delivery of programmes in the “heartbeat” as that all happens anyway because the calls and sessions are fixed in the calendar and so I’m never going to miss them. What I put in “heartbeat” are those crucial things that I know I can easily let slip if I’m not careful.
Step 9: The Futurelog
This might be the best part of the plan!
We all have a zillion ideas for all the amazing things we want to do in our business and it can all get very exciting. But if we are not careful we end up totally overcommitting to things with the result that we take on too much. What then invariably happens is that other areas of our life start to suffer and yet for all the sacrifice, none of our projects actually get off the ground.
So the Futurelog is a series of post-it notes that goes along the very bottom of your sheet. (I normally have my Heartbeat bottom left and the Futurelog bottom right). These are the things you REALLY want to do but you can’t fit in now without impacting on the success of other priorities. They go in the Futurelog because they are not being “thrown out”. They are just waiting for the right time.
Last year my Futurelog contained two things that I’m desperately keen to get done, but once I’d plugged in my priorities for the rest of the year, I could see that there wasn’t really space for them as well, so they got put in the Futurelog and some of them (like the new podcast) have made it into the core plan for this year!
- Launching a Podcast
- Improve the onboarding and annual renewals processes in my membership
- Adding a “next level” to the membership for people who want more input from me
Great ideas? Yes.
Did they need to get done last year?
Not if I wanted to achieve the primary goal I had set myself. But they were there in the backlog in case of a boost of inspiration or time opening up unexpectedly.
This type of “One Thing” planning helps you to create a realistic plan that will actually move you forward based on your immediate highest priorities and allows you time to focus on the tasks that are most important.
Everything else goes in the Futurelog until the time is right.
That includes all those bright ideas that so often throw you off track — because sometimes even great ideas and opportunities can actually set you back if you do them at the wrong time.
The next important piece of course is accountability. How can you be held accountable to actually sticking with and completing that all important One Thing each month? Can you buddy up with a friend, or create a small accountability pod of other business owners. In the Business from the Heart Membership we have small accountability pods to keep each other on track — *and* a thread in the Facebook Group every month where our members publicly share their One Thing, and then report back at the end of the month.
I hope you’ve found it useful to see how I plan out my year. If you’ve got a different system that works for you do post in the comments below. And if you haven’t yet planned your 2023, why not schedule out some time to follow this plan over the next few days so you are ready to start your 2023 with renewed focus when you’re back at your desk.
And, if you’d like to learn more from me about how to create a business you can truly love (without imposing arbitrary rules or other people’s “shoulds” on yourself) you can sign up for my free guide Create a Business you can Fall in Love — and Stay in Love with. Find out more and sign up here.
And if you’d like to be informed next time the Business from the Heart Membership opens for enrolment, you can sign up to be notified here.