Do You Need Help Creating an Awesome Plan for the New Year?

Do You Need Help Creating an Awesome Plan for the New Year?

The year is coming to a close.   I hope 2016 has been amazing and it's time to plan for 2017 and make it even better. I recently met with a residency director and his assistant for continuing education about giving some lectures to their residents.  We asked them about the utility of giving the residents some lectures on the business of medicine since that is what they will face when they finish. His assistant, also a physician said: "Oh! You mean the part of medicine that is set up and run by lawyers and insurance companies?  Doctors have no say in that." The residency director then said: "Our residents are too busy learning medicine, I can't get them to come to lectures like that." I was sad and amazed.  I was a resident, most of us were starved for that information but those attitudes I can only imagine the talks and no wonder they don't come.  It also reflects the axiom "Those who can't do, teach".    We are going to proceed and I hope to change the residents and their leader's perception. So many times we think our business or our clinics are dictated by outside circumstances.  We feel we are controlled by our competition, or the insurance companies, or the congress.   We may think that it is controlled by flu season or get frustrated because of our employees.   These things are called the environment.  The worst thing we can do is to blame the environment.   We are all working under the same environment and our real goal should be to make ourselves and our teams better so we are able to succeed in any environment. I know, you're thinking that's over simplistic but the reality is that as soon as you allow anything but you and your team to be the solution to your problems, you give away all your power.   You give away your opportunity to be response-able.  Like a sailor, we cannot control the wind but we can control the sail.  Don't wish the environment were easier, wish you were better. As you get ready to plan 2017, I hope I can give you some ideas that might be helpful in that process.  I will explain what I do after 35 years of perfecting the process and then you pick and choose what might work for you.  I will divide this into personal and business so you can see how I do both and send them over the next couple weeks.

Personal Planning

Every year I do what I call "Hibernation".  I essentially disappear for 4 days and work on planning and reflecting.   I go off by myself to our cabin or I have done it in a hotel or any other place I can remain undisturbed.  I usually take my dogs if I can but that is the only interaction I have.  Sometimes I will have Pam come up in the evening and have a date with me after a day of planning. The first 2 days are spent in review of the current year.  I look at my journals and planners, I review my social media and financials.  I take time looking at my goals from last year, what I did or didn't accomplish and why.   I jot notes as I go planning for the second two days.  I do some thinking time and some journaling.  It is time to reflect and think about my life, my life mission and goals, and where I am at compared to where I want to be?   In which of my callings was I successful vs which ones was I not. In addition these first two days I take some walks and just do some reflecting and thinking. Who am I becoming and am I happy with that?  Who am I serving?  What's working, what's not working and what can I do differently.   I also look at the use of my time.  Am I spending my time with the best use or should I be doing something different?   Is my schedule serving me and my team or should I change it? By the end of the first two days, I already have a good idea of where I need to go and what I need to do the second two days. The next two days are spent on creating a plan for 2017.  This includes planning for goal setting, business strategies, creating my BHAG, scheduling events and travel, planning personal mastery and habits I want to work on and designing the best year ever. I start the second 2-day process by looking at my life-time goals and mission statement or purpose.   Am I headed in the right direction?  Mathew Mconahy in his academy award talk said the person he is chasing is the person he hopes to be 10 years from now.  I like that.   My mentor Keith Cunningham says Hell on Earth would be to meet the man or woman you could have been.  I am trying to avoid that from happening by becoming that person.  I then look at and adjust my 5 and 10-year goals.   Am I on track, do some need to be eliminated or changed or added to? I then review my roles in life, how they have changed over time and what they ought to look like for the next year.  We all play roles in our lives like actors in a play.  You may play the role of father or mother, daughter or son, sister or brother, Doctor or provider, teacher, business person or owner, leader.  In addition to these "outside" roles you have several internal roles or mastery roles.  You have your physical health, your spiritual well-being, your mental intelligence, your personal and family wealth.  I find it useful to look at each role and decide rather to:

  1. expand the role,
  2. shrink the role, or
  3. get rid of the role.

I also ask what other roles I should be playing.  Let me give you some examples. Pamela and I became empty nesters for the first time this summer.  It is a  strange transition not having any kids left at home.   This is especially true since we have five kids and we have always had children running around.  Now they are all adults with their own lives and their own agendas.   This year in hibernation I will need to think about how my role as a father has and is changing and what can I do to best serve them in my and their new roles. I have been a physician for 24 years.  I have been in medicine for 36 years.   I have Owned my own medical business for 20 years and I have owned my current medical practice for 11 years.   Every year looks different.  Every year I have to decide what does my life as a physician look like?  How much time should I spend seeing patients?  Teaching?  Leading?   Each year is a new transition.   We had 9 team members in 2006, now we have over 300, so my role has to change if I am to lead us to the next level.  I have to become better. I like to make my roles fun so they entice and interest me more.  I learned this from Tony Robbins.  For example, I don't have health I have "Adonis".  I don't have finances I have "keeper of the family treasure". I am not the CEO of my company I am "Oz, the great and powerful".  I don't have adventure, I have "007".  Playful titles make me look at my life more playfully and enjoy the role more. Next I calendar for the year.  I look at the big things.  Trips we have planned or big events we will have coming up and I calendar those in.  I try and get one of those year long big dry erase calendars to do this on. I also add holidays, birthdays, and anniversary so won't forget!

The Goal-Setting Phase

Finally, I start setting goals.   I set goals for each area in my life.  I set them for habits I want to make or break.  I set goals for my roles.  I set the for fun and adventure.  I set goals for business and finance.  I set goals for health and fitness.  I think about what will make this a great year.  What will I look back on and be really glad I did.  I set some leadership goals and some teaching goals.  When I am finished I will have a bunch 30-50 goals in all different kinds of categories, I really just let my brain go wild with no thought of time or ability to accomplish them.  This will take several hours. Now comes the hard part.  I have to wean down all these goals.  My task now is to create a list of the one or two most important things I can do this year in each category.  If I could only accomplish one thing in my fitness this year, what would that be? Then move to the next category.   This is super hard but what I have learned is that if I have too many goals I don't accomplish any.  So I force myself to get to the most important ones this way.  When I finish this, I have a well organized list broken down by category or roles for my goals and I end up with about 20.  Some of these are big and some are small.  Some are success goals and some are mastery which I will explain shortly. Now I force myself to create the top 10.  These are the top ten things I want to accomplish in the next year from all categories. If I can only do 10 things this year what would they be? I start to add to the calendar any dates or important events that need to be done to accomplish these goals.  This is an important list because I will write these goals every day during my daily planning,   These are the main things I want to do.

Making Action Plans

I take the goals I have created and break them down into bite-size action plans.  What needs to be done by Jan., Feb., March, etc.   I make them more specific, set dates, and make them measurable.   There are two types of goals, success goals and mastery goals.   Success goals are goals that have a date or a check mark.   One might be to bench press 250lbs.  It's a good goal with steps leading up to it but you know when you are done.  You did it.   The other types are mastery goals.  You are never finished.   They are things like be the best husband or improve my guitar playing.  It's never ending so you have to get creative here.   I ask myself 'what would success look like?  How I know I am being successful'?   So I might create spend 3 hours a week one on one with my wife or I might say I will learn to play 10 songs on the guitar. By now I am pretty exhausted but also exhilarated and excited to start my year.  I have reviewed my last year, practiced gratitude.   I have a plan which fits into my life plan and a calendar of what that is going to look like.  I hope this has helped you to get some ideas of what you might do to plan your new year.