Business Planning

What You Celebrate About 2014 Can Tell You What to Focus on in 2015

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For many business owners, the next two weeks will be the least productive of the year. Unless you’re in the business of helping people get through the winter, helping them enjoy the holidays or channeling the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge, chances are you, your employees and your clients are all slipping out of the entrepreneurial mindset, and into the holiday spirit.

Of course, conventional wisdom says this is also the season for analyzing the year that is nearly gone, and for establishing the vision, strategy, goals and projections for the year that will be here before you can sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

This time of year a lot of entrepreneurs find time to work “on” their businesses, since working “in” them is pretty much trying to walk on a treadmill that isn’t turned on. You may be refining your vision and mission statements, reviewing what worked and didn’t work this past year and making decisions about what you’re going to keep doing, start doing or stop doing.

Related: 10 Reasons to Scrap Year-End Performance Reviews

Which sounds productive, but often isn’t. Because it’s hard to focus on the big picture of your vision when you’re distracted by holiday parties, gift buying and well-wishing, and that’s just your professional life. Multiply that by two or more when you add in the personal stuff, and it’s likely that you’re feeling too overwhelmed to be in overdrive.

I suggest that you stop struggling right now, and celebrate.

Which doesn’t mean take two weeks off, and come back next year. Although that isn’t a wrong answer. But if you’d like to create a plan for 2015, a list of celebrations will help you determine what you’re going to work on for next year.

List your big accomplishments; contracts signed, projects completed, awards won, milestones reached and the money brought in the door. But list your small outcomes, too. The thank you notes, the client achievements, the employee who turned their performance around, the colleague who gave you a glowing referral. Now look for themes, because the themes you see in that list are indicators for five key decisions you need to make in order to make 2015 your best year yet.

1. Your celebrations are the greatest indication of your passion and purpose.

Over nine years ago I had a harsh awakening. My work as a management consultant and business analyst didn’t fire me up any more. In fact, I was so far from fired up I was nearly burned out. I took myself, a notebook, pens and a book on a retreat and asked myself one question; of all the things I had done, all the accomplishments, outcomes, and ahha moments I’d been part of, what made me want to do a fist pump and whoop for joy?

It didn’t take long for me to realize it wasn’t about the six and seven figure businesses I’d helped to create, and it wasn’t about what I’d been paid to do it. I took pride in those outcomes, but remembering them didn’t cause the fireworks to go off for me. However, when I thought about the shifts my clients made in order to build those businesses I felt that inner flame leap up again. I repositioned my business to be a coach first and a consultant second. I’ve been in bonfire mode ever since.

Related: Balance Fun and Productivity at the Year's End

2. Your celebrations are the greatest indication of your impact.

Not only do we all crave the assurance that we’re making a difference, impact is ultimately what we’re paid to create. So when you review your list of celebrations I’ll get you’ll find a lot of things that are there because of how much they were valued by others. Match those outcomes to the things you billed for in 2014. If they’re in alignment it’s a green light for you to do more of it. If they aren’t, figure out how they can be next year.

3. Your celebrations are the greatest indication of progress.

I once had a client say to me, “Where were you when I started my business?” When I thought about it, I had to say I wouldn’t have been much help when she started her business. I hadn’t yet learned to create that kind of impact. As you review your list of celebrations, ask if you could have accomplished that five years ago. Or two, or even one. Chances are you’ll see areas where you’ve grown, and areas where you need to do some personal development.

4. Your celebrations are the greatest indication of your potential.

You may find some things that you almost left off the list because they were too easy, but you included them because the outcome was so great. There’s your sweet spot. The outcomes that are easy for you to create, that have a lot of impact on someone else’s life, are your most accessible, and usually most rewarding, income streams. If that’s not what you’ve been charging for you know what needs to change in your fee structure for next year.

5. Your celebrations are the greatest indication of your source of energy.

You know that inner fire we’ve been talking about? The fist-pump-whohoo-yessireebob feeling you get remembering some of the things on that list? Whatever makes you feel that way, find a way to do more of it.

When you use your list of celebrations to start your business planning you’ll find that your vision gets clearer, your overwhelm gets lighter, and your holidays get brighter than they were before.

Related: The Year-End Accounting Missteps of Rookie Entrepreneurs