With so few scheduled obligations, these six days are perfect for catching up on unfinished work, and more importantly, preparing for the future. I use this time to fine-tune my plans for the coming year.
But this year is unique. We’re not just at the end of another year; we’re at the end of a whole decade. Most of us only get a handful of decades in our entire careers, so this is a special time. It’s a time when we remember how fleeting our careers are, how fast the years and decades go by. It’s a time to ask yourself difficult questions to make sure you maximize the years you have left.
As we get ready to enter a new decade – The 20s – I suggest you ask yourself some non-traditional questions. These are thought-provoking questions that could have an impact on your goals for the next year and the next decade:
1. What are your life dreams?
I know, this question might make you roll your eyes at first, but it’s healthy to ask. Dreaming dreams is the most important part of your personal planning process. Imagine what your ideal life looks like and think about every single thing you would like to accomplish. Write down all of them, even if they’re ridiculously far-fetched. Do your 2020 goals move you closer to your dreams?
2. Are your goals in alignment with your core values?
Core values are the commitments that drive you each day. They indicate what is truly important to you. Core values are important to success, because they keep your inner self and your outward actions synchronized. If you know where you stand philosophically, you make decisions in harmony with your true character, enhancing your success. If you’re not true to your core values when making your business goals, you’re heading for unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
3. How will opportunities look different for you 10 years from now versus 10 years ago?
The only constant in business is change. That’s especially true when you work in a sales-related profession. To avoid suffering the fate of dinosaurs, take some time to ponder the future and anticipate what might be coming down the pike. How can you get ahead of trends? How can you shape the future in a way your competitors can’t or won’t?
4. What are the three worst habits you need to flush?
The start of a new decade is a good time to think about what weighs you down and holds you back. No matter how successful you’ve been over the past 10 years, you probably developed some bad habits. What are those habits, and what will it take to conquer them?
5. Why do your clients need you?
Think about your ideal client and describe what he or she is like. Think about the best deals you have completed over the past decade and then ask yourself, “Am I providing service that is not only outstanding but differentiated from my competition?”
6. Are you working enough hours each week?
I probably would not have included this question had I written this article 10 years ago, but we now talk about “working smarter, not harder and longer.” I think that’s great; too many people have worked ridiculous hours for no real benefit. But salespeople are paid on their production, and many of us, have much flexibility in our schedules. That can tempt us to cut corners when it comes to time invested. We do want to work “smarter” rather than “longer,” but being a top producer does take significant time investments.
7. Are you committed to prospecting?
Don’t lie to yourself when you answer this question, because most sales professionals do NOT prospect enough. What percentage of your typical business day is devoted to prospecting? Is it enough? What about referrals? They are the single most efficient form of prospecting, yet most sales reps don’t spend enough time chasing down referrals.
8. Are you serious about your goals?
Most sales reps set goals just to satisfy the boss and then don’t think much about their goals after turning them in. You are much more likely to be successful, however, if your goals are carefully written, quantitative and tracked for progress each month. It’s wise to disclose your goals to another person because that dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed.
I know you’re busy, and have a lot of holiday-related things on your mind right now, but take an hour and thoughtfully answer these questions. Perhaps you can find a corner table at the back of your local coffee shop and write down your answers. You’ll likely be amazed at the financial return on that one hour of time invested.
Have a prosperous and blessed 2020!