Take Time at Year End to Review and Plan

There are plenty of year end time consuming personal and business items on all of our to do lists.  It is probably unfortunate that holiday season and one of the most important business seasons are almost perfectly overlapped.  For perfectly understandable reasons the business to do list often either isn’t even created or it is ignored. 

For this final Financial Friday of the year I would like to share with you how my wife Kathleen and I manage our business year end to do list.  A to do list is really a goals list.  We have a family retreat every New Year’s holiday.  Since we have no children, it is just the two of us, usually with a dog facilitating the meeting. Here is our agenda:

  1. Review each of our short term and long term goals for the year we are completing.
    1. Did we achieve each goal?
    2. If not what stopped us from achieving the goal?
    3. Check each goal completed, updated or eliminated
  2. Set and record Short Term goals for the coming year, including plans for implementation
    1. Business and financial goals
    2. Personal goals (hobby, fitness, health, competitive, etc)
    3. What roadblock could stop us from achieving the goal?
  3. Review Long Term goals including plans for implementing goals (career changes, real estate, new vehicle, etc)
    1. Did we make progress toward the goals?
    2. What roadblock could stop us from achieving the goals
  4. Set new long term goals including implementation plans                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

One advantage we have is that Kathleen is an EXPERT goal setter!  She has an exhausted little notebook with more than thirty years of personal and professional goals, set annually, and it is hard to find one without a completed check mark next to it.  Kathleen acquired this goal setting skill decades ago when she was riding in the Canadian Three Day Eventing Program.  She had a one-horse program and no rich daddy so she didn’t quite get to check the goal “make Olympic team’ but she came very very close.  The Canadians at that time spent precious resources training their athletes to be coaches so they would be coachable.  This is a brilliant plan in my opinion.    I learned about goal setting in my MBA program.  My gobjective al for this Financial Friday Blog is to pass along the fundamentals of goal setting to you.  It is basic and I outlined the steps above.   

For 23 years, Every New Year’s holiday, Kathleen and I have reviewed prior goals and set new goals OUT-LOUD to each other.  One key in achieving a goal is to write it down and better yet say it aloud to someone close to you.  It is important for our goals to be measurable so we add metrics to each goal.  How will we recognize success or failure without metrics.  We try to go to some secluded place in the country for our retreats.  Often, at a charity auction, we will buy a weekend somewhere quiet.  That way we are not only having our retreat but doing some philanthropic good as well.

Next week it will be fun for Kathleen and I to, once again, review 23 years of goals and see how we have done with personal growth, business growth, fun growth etc, through a career changing injury for me, retrurning to school for an MBAand surviving the great recession,  We will follow the changes that ended in goals being achieved, demoted or eliminated because it just didn’t make sense any more. 

After you read this blog in Friday Financial or Saturday Summary, you will still have a week to pull together your first annual yearend review and planning retreat. I am sure that for many veterinary business people, committing to this sort of an interaction is a stretch goal.  Keep this quote in mind. 

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are” Max DePree

Challenge yourself to do this for your life as well as your country. 

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