As the calendar begins to wind down, you may be splitting your focus between finishing this year strong and the goals you’ll be running toward in January. That’s not a bad space to be in during this stretch; however, it can create a space that overlooks one very important step that’s rooted in both this year’s goals and next year’s. Before you close the proverbial book on 2022 and launch into ’23, take the time to review your year.
The Good, the Bad, the Almost
Let’s be clear about what we’re talking about here. Yes, you’ve got metrics to measure whether you’ve met your goals and you’ve been monitoring them. You know your growth rate. You know whether you’ve been profitable. You know if you’ve maintained a budget. That’s all great. It doesn’t, however, tell you what worked and what didn’t – and more importantly, it doesn’t tell you why.
You can’t fix something you don’t know is broken. You can’t adapt and replicate processes that worked well if you don’t know what was a positive factor in your success. Make space to review not just your metrics, but your processes and their impact on your outcomes.
Learn from the Fails
You know those goals you didn’t reach? That’s okay. As Johnny Cash once said, "You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone." There’s something to learn from the attempt that didn’t quite make it to the intended finish line. Why weren’t you successful in this area? Did you overestimate the potential for market growth? Do you or your team need more training in a specific area? Did economic or other outside influences have an impact you couldn’t have predicted? Understand why something didn’t turn out as you planned. Make adjustments. Try again if appropriate or refocus your efforts on a more suitable target.
Learn from the Wins
Let’s talk about those goals you did reach. Yes, you should celebrate them. You should also learn from them. What went right? Did your team rely on a particular set of talents and skills? Can you build on those to support future goals? Was there a particular message or approach that worked well with a new market that can be replicated to expand your reach in the new year?
While We’re on the Subject of Wins & Losses…
Size does not matter when we talk about reviewing our wins and losses. Celebrate the little wins. Dissect the small misses. There’s something to be learned from your progress regardless of how close (or not) it came to finishing on a high note.
Reviewing is a Team Effort
This isn’t a solo project. You want to get your arms around a complete picture and that requires multiple viewpoints. Take time to review the year as a team. Are you a solo entrepreneur? That’s okay. Carve out time to work through a review with your mentor. Get input from partners and investors. It doesn’t need to be formal reviews in those instances. Ask questions that help you better understand their perspective on how things are going.
Understanding what went right and what didn’t is a crucial pre-game step for creating next year’s goals. In other words, now is the time to start your due diligence. You should have an idea of what goals you did and did not meet in this current year, why you did or didn’t meet them, and what you might need to change before you sit down to consider where you’re headed next year.
Look for the Unexpected
The funny thing about reviewing your year is that sometimes you cross wins and outcomes you didn’t plan for. What are the unexpected byproducts of your efforts? Maybe you didn’t boost sales with your target audience, but the efforts that didn’t penetrate that market actually did boost reach into an unexpected space. Be on the lookout for such scenarios. When you find them, take the time to understand why and to evaluate whether it’s something you should build out when crafting next year’s targets.