New Year's Resolutions rarely make good goals as, more often than not, they quickly fail. Having an annual review system to review the prior year, reflect and set new goals gives you the momentum to start the new year strongly. I use the same annual review system each year, so this time I thought I would share more details about my own review: 2021 performance versus goals and my new goals for 2022.
2021 was the year of commitment, continued learning and refinement.
I committed to my coaching, committed to my clients, and committed to my writing on leadership, coaching and productivity. I continue to love what I do, and the second half of my career is going strong.
I focused on continuous learning through reading books, listening to podcasts, online courses and investing in tutor-led and cohort-based studies. At the top of my coaching flywheel is seeking, consuming and digesting the best content, whatever the medium, to grow a second brain. The learning and new insights allow me to create and share free content for busy executives and help me to consistently deliver high-quality coaching.
I refined my coaching offering and how I differentiate to add value for my clients. 1-2-1 executive coaching has always been at the heart of what I do. Working with my clients in 2021 has reinforced that I am at my best when using both push techniques (sharing stories, my learning experiences, anecdotes, evidenced-based research that they haven't previously come across) and pull (purist) coaching. This is especially so when it comes to helping clients with the objective analysis and evaluation of issues and resulting options in the service of enhanced decision-making.
Snippets from 2021
New articles written and published: 19
Email newsletters sent: 12
Most popular article - Why I have a second brain, and why you need to build one too.
Most enjoyable to write - How to overcome your immunity to change.
Favourite quote: "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." - Olivia Fox Cabane.
Miles ran without injury: ~750
Reflecting on 2021 Goals
I had seven summary level goals for my coaching in 2021:
1 - Coaching clients, hours and financials
Targets such as number of clients, hours of coaching, rates and total revenue - typical financial goals
2 - Collaborations and new business relationships
I am nurturing a small number of collaborations to achieve win/win outcomes. I wrote about this topic in 2021. You can find it here.
3 - Learning and continued coaching development
I want to be the best executive coach that I can be, not the busiest. Central to that aim is spending a significant amount of my time learning.
4 - Business growth
A typical coaching business is a leaky bucket. Therefore continual business development is necessary to top up the bucket with new clients. I am fortunate that many of my clients become advocates and so introduce me and recommend me to others in need of coaching.
5 - Online presence, including writing
6 - The RYSE Journal
So far, the reviews and feedback are excellent. I wanted to grow my readership in 2021 but underestimated the continuous effort involved and required. The marketing dwarfs the actual writing and publishing hours. No wonder publishers such as FT Pearson are so focused on a potential authors social media presence.
7 - Coaching community
I contribute to the development of the Meyler Campbell coaching community in the UK to add to the dialogue in a compelling way.
These summary level goals had between 2-9 more detailed targets and objectives that supported the overarching theme. I won't go into the details here as it would take too much time, too many words, and I would rapidly lose your attention. Most should be self-explanatory anyway. Get in touch if you want to double click on any of the goals to learn more.
Instead, I want to highlight three common pitfalls and issues with goal setting that I experience and know you will too. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and set better, more meaningful goals:
1 - Focus on what you control and can influence
One pervasive challenge when setting goals is to focus on development goals and inputs rather than output-focused ones. Output focused goals are rarely something that we control, and by judging ourselves based on outcomes, we can lose track of the things that get us the best results. For example, I set a 2021 goal of growing the number of unique visitors to my website. This was a terrible goal as I had no control over it. Fortunately, I also had development and input focused goals such as writing ~2 articles per month and establishing a monthly email newsletter that points people to my website. I can control how much I write, the topics to focus on, and the effort I put into producing insightful, evergreen content on leadership, coaching and productivity for my current clients, past clients, and future clients.
2 - Energising versus draining
Part of my annual review highlights the top 20% and bottom 20% of things. These tasks, experiences, and relationships energise or, conversely, drain me. I schedule more of the top 20% and ruthlessly prune the bottom 20%, so they don't reappear in my schedule. We increase our effectiveness and chances for upside in the year ahead by carrying out an annual review and setting goals.
3 - Time frames
Things often don't work out as planned, and time frames are rarely what we hope for or expect. 2021 reminded me that while we may hope for fast responses, approval and turnarounds, they rarely occur. One of my most rewarding clients in 2021 came from three years of investment in terms of dialogue, and then out of the blue, I was rewarded. Therefore, per #1 and #2, focus on development and things that energise you, which will sustain you until the time is right. I previously wrote about the importance of being consistent. By being consistent, we create serendipity and wholuck that will come good at an uncertain point in the future.
Time frames also apply to your goals. Now may not be the best, most optimal time. If so, don't throw away the goal. Add it to a standby list for the future.
Goals for 2022
As I reflect on 2021, I am pleasantly surprised to see how many goals I achieved. Well, maybe not surprised as I actually review my progress versus goals every quarter; therefore, I could tell at the halfway point that I was on track. Perhaps the midpoint review was the opportunity to add more goals or raise the bar for some of them. But after some reflection, I am happy tweaking my goals and not making wholesale changes during the year. I encourage you to challenge yourself if you are achieving your goals early as often it makes sense to increase the targets and "make hay while the sun shines".
I will share more details about my 2022 goals a few months into the year. That way, I can remind you to regularly review your goals by sharing how I am getting on.
For now, though, the summary level goals for 2022 are broadly the same as 2021 - more focus on deepening a small number of high-quality business collaborations and continuing to protect time for my reading and writing, as well as investing in courses that will help me grow as a coach and provide an even better service for my clients. I plan to run a small number of experiments, such as recording short videos to complement my writing. We should always endeavour to stretch ourselves and try new things.
And we must not forget our personal goals. Life isn't just about business, work and careers. 2022 is full of personal goals for me - mainly to be the best husband and father that I can be. Especially as the year ahead is a year of change in our household- my eldest will hopefully pass her driving test very soon. Both teenagers are sitting important public examinations (GCSEs and A-levels), and my daughter will be off to University for the first time in the autumn.
I have previously stated that the annual review and setting goals for the year ahead are the most important things that I do every year. I stand by that view, as long as we are willing to be flexible and adapt when the world changes around us.
Having a system helps to tease out new insights and new learnings from the past year and gives us the best chance in the year ahead. I continue to use my annual review system:
That you can find here - hopefully, by sharing my annual review, you better appreciate the value of setting goals - best of luck in the year ahead.
"It is only process that saves us from the poverty of our intentions."
Elizabeth King. American Sculptor.
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