As we end a year, it is an excellent time to look back and ahead.  This retrospective time should translate into New Year Planning and setting goals.  The challenge in this activity is setting goals that are meaningful and aggressive enough to grow on where we are today.  Although this is sort of art based on experience, there are also guidelines we can follow to help us in our planning.

New Year Planning for Growth

First and foremost we should look ahead.  The plan should grow on what we accomplished this year.  Coasting into the New Year is not acceptable.  Thus, our challenge is not whether growth will occur but instead in how much we will grow over the next twelve months.  The easy answer is to look at your growth rate over the last year.  Then you can pencil in that amount for the upcoming year.  This is an ok start.  However, I think we tend to underestimate ourselves and productivity gains.  Rate before goals also can put the cart before the horse.

When we set a growth rate and plan for hitting that goal, it is limiting.  We are better when we set goals and then set the relevant growth rate.  Therefore, lay out all of the goals you want to achieve and then reduce them to what you can handle.

When we focus on what we want to accomplish first, I find that almost always outpaces the desired growth rate.  We also tend to hesitate to remove goals to hit a target rather than finding a way to accomplish it anyway.  I have witnessed too many meetings where a customer wants to reduce the cost of a project.  Nevertheless, when faced with removing features they instead prefer to take on a higher price.

Remember the Small Things

A common pitfall in large-scale planning is neglect of the details.  We can get so caught up in new services, products, and features that we forget that we also have to maintain our current offerings.  This is where we can flesh out our plan by looking at what we did in the past year.

For Develpreneur we accomplish this by looking at things like our planned post and training schedule.  We want to grow and add new services, but we also have updates to account for in our current content.  We set goals and then add in the tasks we know are needed because they have been required in the past.  After that, we project what impact the new targets will have on the baseline of what we do today.  We may need to adjust post schedules, consider more content updates and increase budgets.

Plan For Success

It is also easy to forget that growth of a customer base requires more resources to support them.  Put simply; we need to make sure our goals are firmly grounded.  Thus, New Year planning is part dreaming and vision but also has a down-to-earth approach.

This is not a warning to avoid big goals, but instead to plan thoroughly on reaching them.  This mindset will help us be a more significant success where things roll out smoothly rather than us scrambling to adjust to our success.  As an analogy, consider two people that win the lottery.  One finds they suddenly have a ton of extra money while the other was prepared and knows how to save and invest those winnings.  Buying a lottery ticket is nowhere close to as likely to succeed as the plans we set for the year ahead.  Thus, we should assume success as part of our planning.

There is a flow or rhythm that falls into place as we plan out a year.  This experience makes it easier to plan than one might think.  When you have taken a shot at goal setting, we would like to help.  You can get feedback from a fresh set of faces by attending an upcoming mentor session.  We spend a lot of time around year end on reviewing our past year while discussing plans for the future.  This is an excellent time to join us and get the most out of your time spent with this community.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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