Do You Know How You Really Did This Year? Without established goals in place, you're just guessing based on feelings. Make next year different.

By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As we approach the end of the year, it's impossible not to reflect back on all that we've accomplished. It's also practically impossible to avoid answering the question, "How was your year?"

Almost out of habit, we seem to revert to a short list of automatic answers: it was our best year ever, it was a really tough year, we did all right -- something along those lines.

But in this age of big data and post-game hyper-analysis, shouldn't we be more specific? Shouldn't we really know how we did this year, specifically? Shouldn't we put some perspective around our answer, at least for our own learning?

While it might be perfect timing for others to ask this question at the end of the year, this is actually something you should have thought about at the beginning of the year.

Related: 5 Pieces of Your Business to Review Before the New Year

At the end of the year, it's too late, you can't influence the results anymore. At the end of the year, you've lost perspective on what a good or bad year would look like.

It's way too late to know how you did this year when you look at your results at the end of the year.


Think about it: To truly know how well you've done, you need to set up objectives and goals ahead of time so that you can measure your results against them.

  • What do you want to accomplish this year?
  • What milestones do you plan to achieve?
  • What level of sales do you project to hit?

Without setting a goal ahead of time, how can you possibly answer the question, "How was your year?" You really can't, without being completely subjective.

The problem is that it's human nature, both personally and professionally, to justify results after the fact. We create several reasons why things turned out the way they did, and we skillfully list all the factors that drove the results, either positively or negatively. We can't help ourselves. We settle for the results we get, and then we convince ourselves to accept them -- unconditionally.

We lose all sense of context after the fact.

Related: Are Your Stretch Goals Really a Stretch?

Without a goal ahead of time, how "good" is "good?" Maybe you should have done even better! Maybe the results are far better than you even realize. Without a goal, you can't really say if you've achieved it.

Set your goals at the beginning of the year, and measure your progress against them all year long. You should plan out how you are going to measure your results, so that nothing is left to surprise. In fact, even your results at the end of the year should come as no surprise because you've been tracking them all along.

The publically traded companies are used to this approach by setting and measuring goals quarterly. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, tend to wait until the results are in before measuring them. It's in our nature.

So sure, raise a glass to celebrate this year's accomplishments -- we all deserve it! But rather than just focusing on this year's results, you should turn your attention toward next year. It's never too early.

  • What are your goals for next year?
  • How will your business do next year?
  • What sales level should you hit?
  • How are you going to measure your success next year?

Set your goals before the first, so that the first can be the start of next year's success.

Good luck!

Related: Want to Start Building Momentum for 2015? Start Your Resolutions Now.

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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