The way you start 2016 will determine your success.
Astronomically successful entrepreneurs treat the end of their year as a sacred ritual. They get a serious head start by taking advantage of the holiday lull to reflect and plan ahead.
This isn’t just a matter of setting a few goals.
Wannabe entrepreneurs flub it. They don’t have a good process in place. They know planning is crucial, but not how to do it correctly. Make this mistake and the price you’ll pay is Brain Fog for the next twelve months.
As The Shrink for Entrepreneurs I’ve been able to witness first hand the planning rituals of several insanely successful business owners. These people all have their own personal twist on the process BUT – just like how the fundamentals of a stellar business plan never change – the same fundamental puzzle pieces of good planning are all present at the meta level.
One of my clients gets weird in the woods – they go out to a cabin to be totally alone. Another spends a ton of time with close family. One journals. Another builds spreadsheets.
All of them are committed to a year-end ritual. And underneath that ritual are three crucial meta-principles that I’m going to break down in this article. Oh, and I’m announcing something kinda big too…
Planning Principle 1: Intelligent Reflection
So many people assume that the new year should be about looking optimistically ahead and thus miss the biggest opportunity of all. Without fail, the top 1% of entrepreneurs carefully consider the year that has been.
By following a precise formula for mindful retrospection, these entrepreneurs win immunity from a dark tendency in the heart of all self employed business owners…
We’re ruthless with ourselves. I am. You are.
Your expectations for yourself are higher than anyone else could imagine. Even when you do amazing well, you’re hungry for more. You have the capacity to be extraordinarily hard on yourself. God forbid anyone should ever hear your internal dialogue on a bad day.
If you flub the annual pause for intelligent reflection, you’ll enable an insidious tendency to discount your own achievements and successes – minimizing or forgetting them – that’ll simply vaporize your self esteem.
You’ll be consumed by thoughts that you’ve not accomplished enough, haven’t moved fast enough or grown enough.
The net outcome? A pervading sense of hopelessness. Starting to feel like this whole business thing is a mistake. Feeling lost.
On the other hand, you also need reflection to look critically at mistakes you’ve made.
Entrepreneurs DO tend to minimize their past wins, but half the reason you need to positively remember the good stuff is to find the strength to recollect – and examine – the bad.
You need to reflect on the wins and do a post-mortem on the mistakes you’ve made. The cost of missing that last part is tremendous: You’ll keep making the same mistakes without learning.
Ever feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall? Or maybe just sitting with the same sensation of “stuck-ness” – like a brittle tension in your chest – for months on end?
The value of reflection isn’t always intuitively obvious. Nevertheless, my experience has shown that entrepreneurs who are stuck and beating themselves up while ALSO not learning from the past have just one problem: intelligent reflection didn’t happen.
Planning Principle 2: Artful implementation design
There is no bigger divider between the wannabes and the winners than this one.
Amateurs set goals for the year ahead. Meanwhile the consummate pro artfully designs implementation plans for his or her vision.
These entrepreneurs rocket themselves into the stratosphere by not just setting long term plans, and not just knowing where they are now in relation to the plan… but by applying a specific strategy to thinking through all the steps from A to B.
It’s tough to describe this process – or how liberating and clarifying it feels – but the side-effects of NOT doing it are painfully obvious:
You’ve done it wrong if you’re someone who gets that gut-clenching feeling every time when – throughout the year – the 1st of a new month rolls around. Or if dread trickles into your stomach when people around you say things like “Can you believe it’s ALREADY March?!”
You’re in this trap if you have huge plans for yourself – big long term goals – but end up sitting down at your desk and defaulting to mindless tasks like emptying your inbox… or responding to some other never-ending game of urgency.
If you feel like whole weeks go by where you do everything (anything!) EXCEPT take steps toward your most important goal… your planning is busted.
These things happen to an overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs. They’re stuck, endlessly struggling and miserable.
The tendency – when this happens – is to look inwards. Blame the self. There must be something wrong with YOU, right?
The truth is that the way you set and plan the implementation of your biggest goals… is fundamentally broken and needs to be fixed. You’re fine. You’re just missing a crucial ingredient that super successful entrepreneurs have in abundance.
Planning Principle 3: The Significance of Ecology
Most people have no idea what I’m talking about here. It’s too out-there and woo woo.
Ecology is the relationship of one thing to another. It’s harmony and alignment. It’s actually at the heart of the most hard-boiled behavioral psychology.
It’s something that’s difficult to put your finger on, but your goals need it like a fish needs water.
A lack of ecology is the cause of ALL first world “champagne problems” that are in fact insanely painful problems.
Broken ecology means finding out the ladder you’ve worked so hard to climb all year has been leaning up against the wrong wall the whole time. It means finding out that “success” is not what you thought it would be, but being utterly spent and exhausted from getting there all the same.
Don’t make the mistake some people do by thinking “Well, I’d rather struggle with the problems of success than the problems of failure”.
A lack of Ecology in your goal setting will actually result in failure so severe you could never even imagine it.
I’ve seen people plummet into absolute hopelessness after chasing something so hard – and getting it, in a way – only to find out there’s no money, or no freedom… or no win to be had at all.
It’s a lack of ecology in this way that causes more entrepreneurs to quit – abandoning GOOD businesses with real potential – than anything else I’ve seen!
When your business looks so disgustingly trapping that your friends and family are quietly thinking “well if that’s success, I’d rather work in a nine-to-five!” … you’ve flubbed your ecology planning.
When your business hasn’t given you MORE freedom, but less… Or you’re working three times harder than most white-collar employees for the same (or less) money… you’ve flubbed your ecology.
The ultimate cost of this is that your unconscious mind will figure it out. It’ll learn that moving closer to your goals is making you miserable so – in it’s ultimate mission to protect your emotional health – it’ll slam on the brakes.
The motivation tap will run dry. You’ll feel apathetic toward your business. Disinterested. Switched off. Like your house is on fire but you’re just kinda bored of the whole thing.
What happens when you “GET” the 3 Principles…
Get Reflection… and you’ll spot massive opportunities that are EASY to take advantage of. You’ll realize that you cracked the code of success a few times already and simply need to do what works.
You’ll gain a new-found sense of confidence in yourself and your ability to know what to do! You’ll discover your strengths, avoid your weaknesses and find that SUCCESS ITSELF becomes easier and easier instead of harder.
It makes sense that the longer you’re in the game, the easier succeeding becomes. Lack of Intelligent Reflection is the only thing that prevents this being true.
Get Implementation… And you’ll never agonize over what to do next, but simply leap into action. You’ll become the kind of person who can tell someone – anyone who’s asking – PRECISELY what you’re working on TODAY in your life and business. AND you’ll know precisely how that thing you’re moving forward fits into your overall vision for success!
Naturally, the people close to you in your life will be in awe of how you seem to be able to throw an idea, dream or vision out there… and then a few weeks or months later have built something.
Welcome to the ultra-achievers-club! This is where entrepreneurs look like wizards to the mere mortals around them.
Get Ecology… And you’ll feel the deep, almost spiritual sync between your conscious mind’s desires and your unconscious values and drivers.
The motivational faucet is turned to full flow and not in a way where you’re pushing yourself either. Your motivational drive will be inexorable, like a river rushing over a waterfall. Unstoppable.
When ecology is in place, your unconscious mind KNOWS that what you’re pursuing is going to be GOOD FOR YOU. There’s no more internal struggle, just a clear sense of wanting what matters… and desiring to do what it takes to get there too!
The Head-Start 2016 Planning Ritual is coming
Monday – December 21st – I’m releasing a comprehensive video training program you can use to guide your year-end planning over the holidays.
It’s going to be available as a limited release ONLY for this time of year, and only for folks willing to commit to setting aside a few hours during the holidays to dive into it.
The details will be posted here on my blog and emailed out to folks on my list on Monday. Email me personally (my email address is just peter@ the name of either of my websites) if you have questions.
Who’s with me?
Do you want in on this? Post a “Hell yeah!” in the comment section below… and I’m curious to know something:
Who here amongst my smart readers has felt the effects of one of these principles missing from their planning? Who here has felt the rush of having one locked into place? If you’re up for it, share in the comments… and I’ll start us off by sharing a personal story there.