How will next year be different for you and your team?

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you want to do better next year. What are you already doing well? Where can you improve? How will you level up your project leadership skills in the coming year?

Here’s the 4-step process that I use to conduct a year-end review and create my plans and goals for the new year.

1. Reflect On Your Recent Performance

Think about your recent team engagements and projects. Consider these questions:

  • Do you collaborate well with others?
  • Do you ask questions to gain clarity?
  • Are you aware of where your project team needs support?
  • Do you easily connect the dots for your project and team?
  • How do you manage conflict?
  • How do you handle difficult conversations?
  • How do you address unforeseen events?
  • Do you hold yourself and others accountable?
  • What energy do you bring to meetings you lead?
  • How does your team feel about working with you?

Don’t rush this process. Thinking deeply and honestly about these questions will illuminate where you have room to grow going forward.

2. Articulate Your Leadership Vision 

Now take some time to get clear on what leadership means to you.  How do you want to show up as a leader? Consider:

  • What does being a successful leader look like to you?
  • How will it feel to you when you are successfully leading your team?
  • What will your team members feel?

Complete the following sentences to articulate your vision for the future:

  • I will be…..
  • I will feel….
  • My team will feel…

3. Identify the Gaps 

By this point, you should be able to see the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.  What skills, experiences, or characteristics will you need to close those gaps? What do you need to do to shift from where you are today to the leader you want to be next year?

4. Create Your Plan

Now, decide what actions you will take to close those gaps.

Set a goal to take one or two tiny daily actions that will help you improve over time. Small, consistent changes are easier to start and maintain — so focus on continuous improvement rather than big, long-range goals. 

Once you’ve settled on your action(s), use the SMART Goal technique to add some extra focus and accountability to your plan.

Be sure that your goal is:

  • Specific: Narrow objectives are more actionable and more manageable than broad, poorly-defined goals.
  • Measurable: Decide in advance what counts as success — and be sure there’s a way to measure whether you’ve hit your marks. 
  • Achievable: Is your goal fully within your control? Can it be achieved in the time-frame you’ve set for yourself?
  • Relevant: Is your goal important to you? Does it align with your values? Does it move you in the direction you want to go?
  • Time-Based: Set an ambitious-but-achievable timeline for accomplishing your goal to stay focused and motivated.

* * *

We’re often prompted to this kind of reflection at the end of the year, when our thoughts turn to next year’s plans and goals.  And that’s great — we should certainly be setting goals at least once per year.

But, in reality, we can always benefit from taking tiny actions that set us on a path of continuous improvement.  In fact, if you get just one percent better each day, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better a year from now.

So no matter what time of year you’re reading this, take a few moments to consider your current performance — and find one small way you can level up, starting now. 

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