Just like the natural seasons the winter months of December, January and February tend to be a time for tying up loose ends and then beginning to plan for the coming year.
2016 for me has been one of the busiest years I can remember for a long time. I decided early on in 2016 that I needed to re-position myself as a speaker. I had become known, and was hired for, standing up and speaking about the train crash and the way it had affected my life. I wanted to start talking about what enthused me ie. all that I had learnt from my experiences and how these could be applied in everyday life to make any challenge completely manageable.
However this was going to prove easier said than done and most of my year has been spent on designing, explaining, honing and showing the new talks and brand I now offer. There has been little time for relaxation, recuperation or rest and I am exhausted however the groundwork has been accomplished.
But that does not mean I or you can sit back and wait for the work to flow in.
Just as farmers or planters use the winter months to clear back the debris, cut the dead wood off and prepare the ground for planting in Spring now is the time to plan, strategise, and goal set for the coming year.
Make sure actions begun before are not left hanging but are encouraged to grow into the coming year. If some actions have had to fall by the wayside because they didn't work then consider what should replace them where the bare patches are.
Plan your Business - Spring
Be prepared and plant for the coming year.
As the evening's lengthen the months of March, April and May herald the return of growth and potential.
Your hardier ideas will start coming back into bloom. Now is the time to get new ideas planted and keep watching for the first shoots from pre-planted ideas to show themselves. Keep in mind at all times the bounty you want to come from them and feed them appropriately.
It's also the time to go out and look for the new ideas that will carry you forward into 2018. Network, connect, re-connect with established connections and keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities that you may not have thought of yet. Spring is a traditional time for hope and new love- plan your business so that you fall back in love with what you are doing.
Plan your business - Summer
June, July & August are ideally the warmest and longest days of the year. This is the period to keep tending your crop of ideas and tasks, keeping them fed and watered on a regular basis so they grow and thrive.
There may be some time for taking some time out to check and reflect on how things are coming along. If anything is looking sickly pay it extra attention or if it turns out there are weeds pull it out and get rid of it. Take the pulse of how things are being received and consumed, making alterations where necessary.
This is also a time to ensure you have planned taking some time off for yourself. If this is a busy period for you then book a holiday for Spring or Autumn but be sure you nurture yourself as well as your business.
While still maintaining your nurturing actions also be careful to listen. Listen and assess advice, criticism and decide how, or if, this is going to change your mind or affect how you will reach your long term goal.
Plan your business - Autumn
And so we reach the traditional season for harvesting - September, October, November.
Gather in your ideas that have worked and congratulate yourself on a task well accomplished. Remember to keep planning on your next planting cycle and if some of the ideas will continue to perform retain them.
Some things you have tried will not have worked but then take from them any 'seeds' that might develop into other ideas that will work.
Calculate, based on your preparation and attention from the previous months, what has been your ROI. Have your results repaid the time, effort and cost you put into them in the first place.
Keep in mind though that you cannot rest on your laurels. Winter is just around the corner and so the seasonal cycle will begin again.
Throughout the year, whether you like it or not, you will have to keep going. You will have to be continually evolving, changing, adapting and moving forward especially if you want to keep ahead of your competitors.
Your plan in January is not static
While it is important to plan, it is also important to be flexible and adapt when plans don't quite work out. There may be bumps in the road or you may find yourself going down a completely different path. Don't be rigid- the new path may be just the solution so keep planning, but keep an open mind.