Has Your 2021 Strategy Changed?
In this year of turmoil, unpredictability, uncertainty and worry, the idea of strategy for anything further than a month ahead may seem like a dim and distant memory.
But now, more than ever before, strategy is critical to the success of your and your clients businesses.
While I think we all appreciate that the need for an agile and flexible approach to business is incredibly valuable and may well be the only thing that has got us through 2020, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect your long-term goals.
While your planned route may well have changed considerably over the last nine months, is your vision still the same? Are the things that were important to you on the 28th February 2020, still the things that are important to you now?
Or have you shifted?
Do you feel a greater sense of purpose than you did? Do you place more value on the time that you have available to spend with your friends and family than the time spent at work now? Or rather, are you now, finally, prepared to do something to redress that balance.
If you haven’t yet reviewed your strategy – maybe taken that day out with yourself that I talked about in my mini-series on strategy, delivered in May and June 2020, I forgive you and you must also forgive yourself.
We are tired, we are uncertain, we are living at best, with a constant low-level background hum of anxiety and, at worst, in a constant state of worry and stress. I don’t know about you but I have NEVER been as ready for the Christmas break as I am this year. Despite not being able to spend it with friends, family and loved ones as I usually would. Right now, it’s all about the break. The rest. The downtime. The opportunity to reflect.
I’m a high energy, positive individual and I am bone weary and exhausted. We all are.
BUT! Don’t let yourself convince yourself that it’s not necessary! No! This year it is more necessary than it has ever been before.
Re-assess Your Priorities
2021 may, or may not, be different to 2020. We all hope so, we all need it to be… but it just might not. We need to be prepared, we need to understand what has changed for us, if anything, in 2020 and re-assess our strategy based on these changes.
Maybe you now, as I do, place far more importance on WHY I am doing what I do, rather than WHAT I am actually doing.
I have realized this year that what I do is actually not that important to me. I’ve never known what I want to do when I grow up, and I still don’t. But I do now know WHY I want to do it. And that’s another conversation, for another time.
As a result of that fundamental shift to my thinking – the shift from worrying about what I do, how good I am at it, how much I can earn from what I’m doing, who I do it for or with… to what the positive outcomes of my day job actually are, I need to seriously revisit my strategy this year. Yes, I can definitely carry on doing what I’m doing… but I can’t carry on doing what I’m doing if it doesn’t lead me to the outcomes that I want to achieve.
So how about you? Where are you at now in comparison to 28th February 2020?
I strongly recommend you do this before Jan 1st.
- Be honest with yourself about what you really want, what’s really important to you.
Then ask yourself some soul-searching questions:
- What has been the hardest thing for me to overcome in 2020?
- What might have made that easier for me – what could I have changed to facilitate a more positive experience
Ok, so bear with me – some people have had the most distressing and sad year they have ever experienced, and if this is you, you have my sympathy. You are probably thinking something along the lines of… you know nothing and I could have done nothing to prevent what happened, there is nothing about my business that is relevant to this question. But… is that really true? Is there nothing you could’ve changed about your work life that would have made whatever that hardship and emotional event was easier to bear? More time with the people who matter, more opportunity to contribute to society, more knowledge to help more of your clients survive in these harsh business conditions? More focus on you and your own health, exercise, healthy eating?
Sometimes the connections are not so obvious, but they are usually there.
- How does this change things for me?
- What do you want now that is different to what you thought you wanted before?
- How can you start to move towards achieving that – how might you need to change your business, your life even, to make sure that you are happy in the future?
- What might you need to do to better serve your clients – are some of your thoughts around how you couldn’t do enough, fast enough, to save enough?
- Do I still want now what I wanted twelve months ago?
If your answer is YES, there are still a million things you may have to look at and do differently now to achieve the same goals. How will you go about this? What will you need to implement to reach the same vision, under such a different landscape?
Now is the time to really start to plan your route from where we are right now… to where you always wanted to be in the first place. But where you started from before was significantly different to where you are starting from now! Are you further along? Has this new world order cut a lot of the red tape for you, made decision making easier and more agile, or has it set you back to square one, or even beyond? How does this change your strategy and what measures do you have to put in place to ensure that are still successful, still on track.
If your answer is NO, what do you want now? Does it even relate to what you have at the moment? Where do you go from here? Is the business model right? Heck, is the business right, the industry, the positioning, the client, the purpose, the why?
What do you need to do to be happy again, to feel drive and ambition in what you do?
Ok, so some of this may seem a little melodramatic, however there is no doubt that things have changed, we have changed as an industry, even as a society, your clients have changed and the priorities that you have should change as a result. You need to spend some time with yourself figuring all this out.
When you do this, I would like you to add one item to your agenda – an item that has never been there before and should have been. An item which has always been important but which I have never given any consideration to previously… what have you forgotten.
This year, despite the restrictions and the isolation, has flown for me – as it seems to have done for many of the people I speak to. But it was SO different, I was so different, the possibilities were different, the way we had to tackle simple, previously taken for granted, life stuff was different.
And I sat the other day and I meditated on those first three months of lockdown – March, April, May 2020. And I realized just how much I had forgotten about that time – both positive and negative events – what I had done, what I had achieved, what I didn’t do so well at, what I excelled at – what were my true strengths and weaknesses during that time.
I was blown away by how much I wasn’t remembering of that time. It was only 6-9 months ago and it took real deep concentration, really trying to relive each day, for me to be able to associate myself with the me I was at that time. And that has given me renewed energy to make sure I take the good with me (and there was lots of it) and I leave the bad behind me (and there was lots of that as well) when I transition to 2021 over the next few weeks.
So get down to it – take a good long hard look at yourself after 2020 and how that might change who you are in 2021. Then create your strategic plan to move you towards that ultimate objective – whether the objective has changed or just the landscape you move through to reach it.