Reflect, Readjust, Reimagine: Looking at Last Year to Create Your Next Year

Dec 28, 2022 Reflect on your past year's performance to create a successful plan for the future. ProCFO Partners can help you identify areas for improvement and set realistic goals for the new year. from ProCFO Partners

As the new year approaches, it’s natural to look back at the past year and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. This exercise is particularly important for business executives as it can help you identify areas for improvement and set more realistic and achievable goals for the year ahead.

In this article, we’re discussing the importance of reflecting on performance in the last year and how this exercise can help you create a successful plan for the future.

Reflect on What Met Expectations

One of the first steps in creating a plan for the year ahead is to look back at what met your expectations in the past year. This could be anything from financial performance to customer satisfaction to employee engagement. By identifying what went well, you can build on those successes and replicate them in the future.

For example, if you had a particularly successful marketing campaign that increased sales, consider allocating more resources to marketing in the coming year. Or, if you had high employee retention rates, you should focus on continuing to invest in employee development and engagement programs. 

Even as you consider next steps based on previous steps, resist the urge to get into planning mode. That’ll come. Reflecting has its own value, and we encourage you to do this without the pressure of figuring out, okay, now what?

Reflect on What Didn’t Meet Expectations and Why

Of course, not everything will go according to plan, and it’s important to reflect on what didn’t meet your expectations in the past year and why. This can help you identify areas for improvement and make changes to your strategy in the future.

For example, if you had a drop in sales, it’s essential to dig deeper and understand the root cause. Was it due to changes in the market? Did you experience competition from a new player? Did you fail to adapt to changing customer needs? By understanding the underlying cause of any setbacks, you can make changes to your strategy to avoid similar issues in the future. This is a good time to reiterate the value of revisiting your revenue model – something only some companies do regularly, if at all. How have your customers changed? How have your products or services changed? What does that mean to how you make money?

Reflect on What Could Have Been Managed or Controlled

While some challenges are out of your control, there are often things that could have been managed or controlled more effectively. For example, maybe you didn’t allocate enough resources to a particular project, or maybe you didn’t adequately communicate your expectations to your team. Reflecting on what could have been managed or controlled better can help you identify areas for improvement and change your management style or processes in the future.

Reflect on Surprises

Finally, reflecting on any surprises that surfaced over the past year is essential. These could be positive or negative, but it’s important to understand what caused them and how you can prepare for similar situations in the future.

For example, if you had a sudden increase in demand for your product, it’s essential to understand what caused the spike and how you can prepare for it in the future. On the other hand, if you experienced a sudden drop in demand, why? What caused the decline and how can you mitigate the impact in the future?

Reimagine Your Plan for the Year Ahead

By reflecting on what met expectations, what didn’t, what could have been managed or controlled, and what surprises surfaced, you can create a more realistic and achievable plan for the year ahead. This might involve setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals, prioritizing proactive ways to avoid pitfalls and creating strategies to achieve your goals.

Conclusion

Reflecting on the past year can be a valuable exercise for business executives looking to create a successful plan for the future. By scrutinizing where you’ve been, you can identify areas for improvement and set more realistic and achievable goals for the year.

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