The end of the year is so close you can almost taste the New Year’s Eve libations. Right about now you may be enjoying the onslaught of holiday related festivities – both the personal and professional sort. You’re also likely scurrying to finish tasks and goals that had some sort of “by year’s end” deadline attached. Sound familiar? Before you get caught up in the whirlwind of getting it all done before the Times Square ball drops, make a plan to successfully close out the year.
Check Your Deadlines
Is that 12/31 deadline a hard-and-fast deadline or a self-imposed milestone? If you’re closing out your books at year’s end, then yes, your 2023 sales goal has a year-end deadline. If you’re talking about mastering a new skill or launching a new product/service, it’s more likely a self-imposed milestone. The good news is that those can be adjusted.
Don’t Just Adjust
We set goals for a reason. If we want to meet those goals, we also set measurable milestones and due dates. Before you just move the goal post out farther, however, take the time to assess why the original goal is not achievable within these parameters.
Was your original plan unrealistic? Did you run into unexpected challenges? How much more time do you need in order to complete this task? What would it take to get this done within the original timeframe and is it worth the adjustments you’d need to make to do so?
Then Get Really Honest
You may not be within arm’s reach of finishing this goal, and that’s okay. You’ve made some progress, however. That means now is a good time to re-evaluate your original premise and targets. Is this goal still worth pursuing? Are the assumptions you began with still applicable? Does the goal still seem attainable with changes to the game plan and timeline?
Honestly answering these questions will take some due diligence. Pull up the analytics. Yes, your gut feelings have some place in this evaluation, but it’s not the full measure. Take a look at the milestones you have met. Did those efforts yield outcomes you expected? Are they giving you reason to believe this one is worth sticking with?
Adapt or Close?
After you’ve completed your evaluation, ask the really hard questions: Is this goal still worth pursuing? Is it worth pursuing in its current format or do we need to make some adjustments? What have you learned through this point of the process? Considering the info you’ve gathered at this point, is this idea just no longer viable? Is it better to take what you can learn from it and move on?
Don’t Just Take Your Word For It
Yes, you’re using data to support your evaluation. Dig deeper. Get input from your team and your partners. What impact (or not) are they seeing from the work that’s gone in toward reaching this goal? How would they evaluate progress? What changes might they consider – either to the goal or to the process – in order to improve the tasks that involve them?
Sometimes we miss the goals we set, but we find ourselves with something else wonderful to celebrate. When you’re evaluating your progress, don’t forget to look for unexpected lessons and wins.
Perhaps your team set a goal of hosting one customer-facing workshop a month with the intent of cultivating new leads. 10 months into this project and your pipeline isn’t nearly as robust as you had expected. But you’ve still noticed that there’s an unexpected increase in customer retention. Your workshops have drawn interest from some new contacts, but they’ve been a real hit with people you’ve already done business with. Those accounts are spending more with you after attending workshops and are apt to become regulars. When looking at your original target, this one isn’t a win, but an increase in client retention still makes it a win.