Ahh, it’s that time of year again.
We’re coming out of the holiday break full of hope, ambition, and maybe even with a few new toys to try.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting resolutions and goals for the year ahead.
However, I suggest you don’t!
Try this instead:
Develop a theme for the year.
Life is not linear, so why should our goals be?
Remember, um, 2020? I certainly do. I was coming off the biggest year in my career at the time. I was a top-producing rep in the company, even selling more individually than whole regions.
I had completely depleted my pipeline after closing my last deal at the final hour on December 31, 2019. I knew I was going to need to rebuild my pipeline, however, I wanted to 2x my previous year’s results.
Three months later…absolute chaos. As we all remember, it felt like the end of the world when Covid hit.
New business (which was what I was focused on) was decimated.
I even had several prospect executives that got furloughed.
There was nothing but uncertainty in the air.
But after the initial shock and awe, I began to feel calm, and dare I say it, invigorated.
Because I don’t obsess about goals. I operate using a theme to guide my year. Then, I work backwards to create a set of principles and a system that align with supporting that theme.
The end result is achieving more than what I thought was possible.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1 is to set a theme for the year.
I settle on my theme by asking “what moves me closer to what I truly want in life?”
By way of example, below are my themes from the past five years since implementing this strategy:
- THEME: Be bold
- OUTCOME: Left a comfortable 6 figure role to join LivePerson. This move changed the course of my career and elevated me to selling at the highest level to the world’s largest brands.
- THEME: Slow down in order to speed up
- OUTCOME: Prioritized my account list to focus on quality over quantity and ended up closing some of the biggest deals of my life to personally earn $1.5M (my first time becoming a 7 figure earner)
- THEME: Make the big bets
- OUTCOME: Diversified my impact and found more intrinsic motivation during a year of major transition. Still managed to average 7 figure earnings for the year and launch a whole new initiative that set our company and me up for success in the first half of 2021.
- THEME: Share my system and help others vs only competing for success
- OUTCOME: Launched BFLG and put myself in a position to retire from the corporate world by age 43 so I can apply my time and energy 100% towards what I want. Closed the most sales in a single year in my career without “much effort,” keeping me in the 7 figure earners club while I scaled my impact by helping others.
- THEME: Prioritize my high leverage activities
- OUTCOME: Stick around to see what happens
By developing a theme, I’ve found more peace, creativity, and less obsession when I develop (and continue to fine-tune) my personal operating system.
That allows me to be more fluid with the things out of my control (oh you know, like a global pandemic), while being more specific around micro actions, which are in my control.
Goals can have an element of emotion attached to them, where actions can remain binary – I either do them or don’t on a daily basis.
For example, a common goal for salespeople – “I want to earn x this year.”
When I started ditching new year’s resolutions and goals, and started adopting this framework, I 3X’d my target earning potential.
I wanted to earn $500K heading into 2019, but because I stuck to my theme of slowing down in order to speed up, I was actually able to earn $1.5M.
That’s because I wasn’t fixated on a specific goal, which would have limited my mindset, but instead, I kept focused on my principles and system to support the theme every day. That allowed me to adopt an abundance mindset and surpass what I thought I was capable of.
Step 2 is to define my guiding principles to support my theme.
These principles are essentially the ways I will operate and manage my work-life integration. Maybe my principles will carry over from the previous year(s), or perhaps I need to reevaluate and update them based on what I’m trying to accomplish.
Your operating principles should range from aspirational to tactical. Start with macro ones that embody how you want to live, for instance “Be Authentic” (aspirational) to “I don’t consume caffeine after 12pm” (tactical).
Keep a list in both columns. You don’t need to go crazy. If this is new to you, it’s better to start with a few of each and evolve as you learn more about yourself and what works as you execute on your plan.
Step 3 is about applying my personal operating system.
I do that in the following ways:
First, I underpin my principles with ‘DFC‘:
- Discipline: Especially helpful at the start to kickstart my new plan
- Flexibility: Essential for when those curve balls get thrown my way
- Curiosity: Stay reflective in order to experiment and evolve as I progress
Then I execute every day with ‘PREP‘:
- Plan: Plan out tomorrow as the last thing I do today
- Rest: Make sure I recover and rest well, so that I can…
- Effort: Give my all with focus and intensity to the high value activities
- Perform: Measure my performance objectively with data, not emotion
For planning, I focus on my key projects.
What are the high leverage, high value projects that deserve my time and energy? What are my moonshots? What gets me closer to my North Star? It could be big, medium, or small, like these:
- Write a book
- Win a diamond account
- Boost engagement on Twitter
Then I dissect the action items that comprise each project.
From there, I try to understand if there is a specific due date for an action or if it’s a recurring task.
Those tasks get plotted on my calendar at the appropriate time and energy level for that day.
My key checkpoints are:
- Daily Review (a part of the last action I take for the workday)
- Weekly review (Fridays for me)
- Monthly review (1st day of month)
- Quarterly review (1st day of quarter)
- Mid-year assessment
- End of year assessment
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
- Get the exact system I’ve used to go from earning $200K to over $1M a year in SaaS sales without burning out here. (1,800+ students)
- Join a community of Purpose-Curious™ sellers in the Make More Hustle Less Club where we develop a personal operating system together here. (300+ members)
- Book a 1:1 coaching session to up-level your performance here. (Limited spots available)