Three Ways to Take Charge of 2017

December 12, 2016

checklistEach December I try (with mixed success) to invest time during the last two weeks of the year to reflect on what I’ve accomplished personally and professionally over the past twelve months, what I’ve learned, and what I want to do differently going forward.

It’s a ritual we all go through to some degree, whether formally or not. This year feels more important to me than most, particularly since I am still celebrating (and leveraging) the publication of my book Making Meetings Matter last February.

It’s also important because 2016 has been unsettling for so many of us. The national election we’ve just completed, and all the continuing uncertainty (and anxiety) that event has created, made it a tough year not just for the United States but for the entire world.

Today I just want to suggest briefly three specific actions that you can take to put yourself in charge of your own future:

  1. Write a one-page business plan;
  2. Take that plan seriously enough to establish a disciplined routine for accomplishing it; and
  3. Pay attention to what drains you and what gains you – and spend more time gaining than draining.

I know those ideas look and smell a lot like new year’s resolutions, and we all know easy it is to make and then break new year’s resolutions; most are dead before the end of January.

Thus I am approaching these three actions not as new year’s resolutions but as new habits that I intend to adopt.

Here’s just a few comments about each of them:

  1. Write a One-Page Business Plan

I’ve been doing some version of an annual one-page plan for many years. This year I’m going to do it more intensely, and then I’m going to pay attention to it (beginning with printing it out and posting in on the wall right over my work space).

If you don’t already know it, the One-Page Business Plan© was invented by my good friend Jim Horan (who by the way generously wrote a compelling Introduction for Making Meetings Matter). The One-Page Plan is a powerful tool for focusing your attention on your goals and on the actions you have to do take to accomplish them.

I won’t dwell on the approach here; but please do yourself a favor by visiting Jim’s website, The One Page Business Plan, buying a copy of his book, The One Page Business Plan©, and then writing your own plan. You won’t regret it.

  1. Establish a Disciplined Routine for Accomplishing Your Plan

This is something I struggle with just about every day. But here’s what I mean:  your one-page plan should include the core activities that any business, no matter how large or small, must undertake consistently:  develop products and services; build and maintain customer/client relationships, track cash flow both in and out of the business; and deliver value to customers and other stakeholders.

How much time do you spend on each of those critical activities? If you don’t know, the absolutely essential first step is to build a time tracking system – and use it. Spend time every day, or at least every week, on each of those core activities. And track what’s working and not working in each area.

Another of my heroes and role models is Mark LeBlanc, the author of Growing Your Business and all-around Yoda. I am convinced I’d be more successful if only I could become as disciplined as Mark is about actually doing the things I know I need to do.

So the closest I’m going to get to a new year’s resolution for 2017 is to define the essential actions that will grow my business and then make appointments with myself, on my weekly and daily calendars, to do them in a disciplined way.

  1. Spend more time on things that gain you energy, and less on things that drain you

My third source of inspiration is my long-term friend and personal accountability partner Candace Fitzpatrick, CSP, the founder and CEO of CoreClarity™, a firm that leverages the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to help individuals and team discover and leverage their unique talents and be more successful in their lives and their work.

Drawing of a happy person with open arms

Candace reminds me frequently that if I concentrate on practicing my personal talents I will not only be more successful, but much happier and more energized. It was Candace who first encouraged me to pay attention to my energy levels during and after spending time working on various tasks. It’s obvious to me now that when I do the things that I am good at, and that I enjoy, I am far more energized, happier, and much more likely to do the same things again tomorrow. And that makes being disciplined about accomplishing my business plan all that much easier.

In short, if it’s not fun and productive, I’m not doing it.

So – here’s my year-end message of hope and optimism:  build a one-page plan, exercise discipline in carrying it out, and concentrate on doing the things you are good at. I guarantee that will put you in charge of 2017!


If you are a member of IFMA’s REAL Community (Real Estate and Advisory Leadership), be sure to sign up for my virtual presentation (webinar) on this Thursday, December 15. I’ll be talking about “Orchestrating Strategic Real Estate Conversations with the C-Suite.” Registration information is available to IFMA members at this link.

And I am also proud to announce that I will be leading the closing conversation on the future of work at the January 7-8 invitation-0nly Industry Roundtable hosted by the International Interior Design Association in Chicago.

Call me today (+1 510.558.1434) for a free exploratory conversation about how you can become a hero by enabling your organization to take charge of its own future.

Download "Three Ways to Take Charge of 2017" as a PDF

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