This is a very loaded statement considering the year most of the world has had. The biggest lesson that 2020 has taught us, as a collective, is that even the greatest of plans can be thrown out the window, or adjusted to accommodate real-world interferences.
So, with 2020 drawing to a close, it’s time to sit down, reflect on what has happened and put together a plan for 2021.
The steps laid out here can be used for your management system, your department, a project team, your career, and even your personal life.
Step 1 - Looking back on 2020
2020 has been a year, and everyone deserves a merit badge for making it to the end. Now is the time to look at the ups and down 2020 has had. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What were the highlights this year? (Personally, for the team, for the management system).
- What were the lowlights of this year? (Personally, for the team, for the management system).
- What did you and your team enjoy working on this year?
- What project, action plan or task was really tough for you and your team? Why?
- What were the biggest timewasters of 2020? (Personally, as a team, and for the management system.)
- What were your achievements in 2020? Personally, for the team, for the management system?
- What is the one thing you would change? That is within your control to change.
- Were all objectives and target for the year met?
- Which objectives and targets were easily met during the year? Why?
- Which objectives and targets were a struggle to meet during the year? Why?
- What goals, objectives, action plans need to be carried over to the next year or two? (This question has been specifically included simply because of the nature of 2020 and the world we currently live in.)
Step 2 – Setting Goals for 2021
Setting goals for 2021 is probably the hard part of this exercise. This can tie into the objectives and targets set by your organization for the management system, management system review meetings, your performance contracts and reviews. But will generally be high-level goals that you want to achieve personally, as a team, or for the management system as a whole.
Goals, objectives, and actions should be measurable (either quantitatively or qualitatively), should be monitored in some way, and updated when appropriate.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the 3 big goals I want to achieve personally?
- What are the 3 big goals I want to achieve professionally?
- What are the 3 big goals my team (or management system) wants to achieve?
Step 3 – Action Your 2021 Goals
Once you have all your goals written down it’s time to put action plans and tasks in place to make sure you achieve these goals. When doing this, whether it is for your personal goals, professional goals, or team goals, ask the following questions:
- Who needs to be involved the ensure goals are reached? This includes support from family, your team, managers and/or Top Management.
- Are the action plans and tasks planned achievable? Are the deadlines and due dates reasonable?
- Is everyone involved with the action plans and tasks happy with their responsibility or input?
- How will these actions be measured?
- How will these actions be monitored and by who?
Step 4 – Review Your 2021 Goals Regularly
While 2020 has taught us that even the best-laid plans can be thwarted and changed in a whim, it is necessary to put aside time to review your goals regularly. This allows you to review the plans and make changes and adjustments where needed.
For you and your team, this may be on a monthly or quarterly basis to make sure you are on track. Many of the goals set in Step 3 may already be reviewed and monitored during meetings, but is important to set aside time to review your personal and professional goals as well. Don’t forget to block this time out in your calendar.
Step 5 – Keeping on Top of Your Plans
Keeping track of plans may not be easy. For me, I need a multitude of calendars, to-do lists and reminders. These are the steps I take to plan out a year, a month, a week, and even a day.
- I start with having an annual calendar laid out in front of me. From here I fill in major events for every month. This is handy for visualising when annual, bi-annual, quarterly, bi-monthly and any major monthly events that I want to include.
- From here, I will dive into my monthly calendars, assigning dates to the events that occur above. Don’t forget to put in public holidays, team birthdays, etc.
- Then I like to have a daily schedule and to-do list. At the end of every month, I sit down and fill in a month’s worth of daily planners – adding in daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, as well as adding in the additional annual, bi-annual, quarterly and bi-monthly tasks that need to be addressed in the coming month. Then on Friday afternoon’s I like to see what needs to be done for the week ahead.
Daily Planners are crucial to my planning and record keeping processes. I don’t throw away my daily planners as soon as I am done with them, and will usually keep them for about 3 months after the year has been concluded. I will file them away as they serve as a reminder to me of what was done and what was achieved.