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Mastering Annual Planning: A Guide to Unshakeable Accountability 

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Personal and professional success depends on effective annual planning. Resolutions made with a new years hangover are destined to fail year after year and statistically they do. But even annual planning, done in a more formal and more structured way, will likely come up short if you do not consider the following things.

As a business owner you seem hard wired to focus on business first, foremost, and maybe exclusively. You are heavily influenced by a powerfully guiding inner voice and a significant number of external forces all around you to set goals needing you to work harder and work longer so that your business can grow, and earn more.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that but because it happens so automatically it usually comes at the expense of some very important things in your world.

At some point this year you will likely feel an inner turmoil creating a increasing divide between work and home. You might feel an increasing pressure from the most important people in your life because of your undivided attention to work. You might even rationalize to yourself that you are pushing so hard for them so they’ll have all they want and be happy.

The stress of the pendulum pull from one extreme of work and making money to the other extreme of personal health, family time and a life can feel like there is no possible way to win.

But what if there is?

In mastering annual planning you can set a vision and a direction of living a life you love while also continuing to grow a thriving and successful business.

You can create an effective plan for the year ahead the sets the foundation for years to come.

Then you can integrate a system of unshakeable accountability that empowers you to stay on course as the stormy seas of work pressure and daily life crash wave upon wave down upon you through the year.

3 Vital Steps To Mastering Annual Planning

Learn From Last Year

It’s easy to get excited about the year to come and all that will be. But to really ensure that it will be the year you want it to it’s imperative that you look back first. Look at the year that just ended and identify your wins and your challenges. 

I have my clients list the biggest wins of the past year. The things that mattered most to them, made the biggest impact on the success of their year, and made them smile just thinking about them. 

Naturally you began thinking about work successes, right? 

First think about and list your personal successes then focus on professional wins.

Of course there is the flip side of the coin, the challenges. This one is usually easy as you likely tend to key in on what did not go well. Here’s your opportunity to list the biggest challenges that limited you personally and then professionally.

Listing them is just one part. It does not mean much unless you draw the lesson learned from both the wins and challenges. Next years breakthrough might come from the insight you gain right here.

While working through wins and challenges is powerful I think an even more powerful exercise is to clearly see how you have been living more of your version of The One Wave Lifestyle over the past year.

I have my clients write a powerful and highly personal statement related to each of the 7 Waves of Real Success that really sums up the year and shows them how far they’ve come and, perhaps, where they need to focus next.

Assess What Really Matters

How far did you really come this past year? Did you meet your goals? Where did you come up short? Once again, as a business owner, you naturally went to business and financial metrics right? That’s okay. It’s your automatic response.

What if you looked at those plus a whole lot more that gets to the heart of real success? Just imagine for a moment if you felt success and happy with everything in your life firing on all cylinders. Nice feeling, huh?

So let’s begin with a very simple question…

Are you happy?

You might have an instant feeling of yes or no but then again you might say… well, it depends! For most people that is probably most accurate. It does depend. Sure, I am happy with one aspect with my work or life but not so much in another. Does that resonate?

To really assess where you are at right now you must look at every key area of your life, including your business. For my clients that is going through our 20 point Ideal Life Assessment. It covers all seven areas of the 7 Waves Of Real Success and allows you a wide reaching view of your present moment and how happy you are with your current results.

Assessing your current reality and what really matters to you opens your eyes to the breakthrough change you might want to address as you determine your plan for the year ahead.

Design An Annual Plan For Effective Execution

There are many strategies annual planning and for integrating that plan into your daily schedule. One of the biggest mistakes you will likely make is to set so many “important” goals that you spread yourself and maybe your team, if you have one, way too thin.

That, of course, will push you right back into overwork, overwhelm, stress, and on the path of burnout. There can be no work-life balance and probably even limited business and financial success if you spread too thin.

If you were to list all of the goals you want to achieve this year you’d have a long one, right? As you read through them they are all important, right? Most of them feel like priorities, right?

You’re not alone here. We all tend to have too many goals, too many priorities, and not nearly enough time. Ultimately you need to prioritize all of those priorities. 

For my clients this begins at the very top and determining, above all else, what matters most? This is the Forever Non-Negotiable. The thing that means so much to you that is it always considered first when making decisions or blocking calendar time for the week ahead.

Hint: for most people this ought to be your health and well being or your relationships with your most important people or both. 

Now it doesn’t mean you always choose these above other things. It simply means that you consider them first so they do not slide off of your planning radar leaving you beating yourself up about it or worse… experiencing a health or relationship issue.

Next up is determining your Priority Among Priorities or as Chris McChesney in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution puts it, your WIG or wildly important goal.

When you read that long laundry list draw from your review of last year and your assessment of what matters most and where you are right now and ask yourself these questions.

Do I have a clear vision of the direction I want to take my life and my business in the year ahead and beyond?

Are time, energy, and freedom limiting factors that are likely to limit my ability to reach my most important goals?

What is the most important breakthrough I can make personally or professionally this year that will have the greatest impact on my overall life and work success?

From your answer to one of these questions likely comes your priority among priorities for the year… your wildly important goal.

When you intentionally focus on this goal and give it the additional energy, time, and resources it needs to be addressed, it will open the door to so much more as you breakthrough and achieve it.

Think big. Think long term marathon approach.

This could be the year that changes everything.

There’s one more step that is key to doing things differently than the way you likely always have.

A tendency in setting a goal and trying to execute on it is to set, as described in 4DX, a lag measure. This is the result you are looking for.

  • Earn an additional million in revenue
  • Land 4 100K accounts
  • Lose 25 pounds
  • Go on a 2 week vacation by year end

All great goals but for each you only know the result once you are there. Did you achieve the goal or not. Yes or no. In that moment there is nothing you can do to change the goal. Its done and in the past. This describes most typical resolutions.

So there needs to be more. To realize that result ask yourself these 2 questions.

What measurable drivers will lead to the achievement of my goal?

Can I directly influence them being done?

Actionable drivers that you influence week by week or even day by day moving you towards your goal are the hidden secret of mastering annual planning. Devote the time and attention you need to really nail these and you will have laid the path towards the success you want.

Realizing Your Goals Versus Repeating History Comes Down To This

Your accountable execution of your plan, and ultimately you achieving the breakthrough you want this year and experiencing the business success and work-life balance you want comes down to two final things.

Keeping score and tracking the steps you take that you influence and drive you towards your goal is the first.

The second is to create a brief, consistent and specific form or accountable check in to hold yourself accountable for your commitments and to learn from challenges that inevitably arise.

You will have challenges.

Some will come from within you. Some will come from other people or other forces outside of you. All will aim to drag you back into old habits and old ways of overwhelm and over work on the wrong things or too many things.

Checking in with yourself, your team, an accountability buddy, or with your private coach at least weekly is the biggest difference maker between success and repeating a history you wish was different.

Mastering annual planning ultimately comes down to how you execute it and how you stay accountable to what really matters.

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Brent Haydey is an experienced life and business coach in Edmonton, renowned for his calming, empathetic, and results-driven approach. With over 30 years of experience, he specializes in helping individuals and entrepreneurs find balance and success, blending teaching, mentoring, and coaching for impactful life changes.

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