Fireworks DisplayWoohoo!  A fantastic year is ending and a new one that I hope will be just as remarkable is beginning.  The theme I’ve chosen for 2014 is “Taking Risks and Making Dreams Reality.”

This means that shortly, I will call together the board of me, (consisting of myself, a glass of vino, a pen and paper), and begin my annual strategic planning conference to determine 2014 Strategic Goals and review / update the Dematurity Plan.  I bet a bunch of you are wondering what a Dematurity plan is and why is  Caterina having a strategic planning conference with herself?

The Dematurity Plan is the easiest thing to explain.  It is similar to a bucket list, except it has a shorter period in which to execute.  I want to do these things while I am relatively young versus waiting until my golden years.  I set a goal of achieving all items within 5 years of adding them to the list.  They can be anything and everything.  They are whatever tickles your fancy!  They can be travel, random goals, and wild things you want to try.  It includes whatever you want to do, as long as they energize you and keep you young at heart.  Hence the name: Dematurity plan.

No doubt, you are thinking that the Dematurity Plan sounds fun. It’s dorky in a way, but fun.  Now, what about these strategic priorities?  It sounds a little too businessesque and not too much fun for a person.  Truthfully, that was my initial reaction as well.  After all, New Years resolutions were made to be broken, right?  I sure as hell couldn’t manage to keep mine for one reason or another.  Obviously, simply making a resolution doesn’t work for me.  I need to commit to whatever I state and see it in front of me to bring it to life.

A wise woman once told me that resolutions weren’t actionable.  She actually said that same thing many times to me, along with the other leaders in the department I worked in, when building out goals and priorities for our teams.  When she was assigned as my professional mentor, she suggested I start applying the same principles to my personal goals since I backslid on them all of the time for a hundred and one different reasons.  I thought she was crazy!  Who in the hell does that with their personal life?!  That is really way too much work for personal goals.

Being the smart woman she is, she reminded me that I did this professionally every year and it had served me well.  Why not do it personally too?  If it didn’t work, I could walk away from it.  She also identified early that my work/life balance was way out of whack and I needed to put it back in balance if I was going to deliver every day at work and at home.  So I trusted her, bit the bullet, and dreamed about what I could accomplish for myself personally in a year.  None of what I am about to share is rocket science and many business minded folks do it every single day at work.  A handful will also do it at home.

My annual plan consists of 5-10 items depending on what is top of mind when I find a quiet moment to really think through what would be amazing to accomplish that year.  I pick 3-4 heavy hitters.  That way I can make them actionable and not take on more than I can really handle.  I have a tendency to do that.  I also have trouble saying “no” to myself and others if an interesting project surfaces.  After brainstorming the big goals, I pick a few lower priority items that I would like to do as well.  The world won’t end if I don’t finish them or merely make little progress.  These are also nice if you need to see something accomplished every now and then to stay motivated.  Lastly, I set rough target dates and outline actions I need to take each step of the way to move towards the end goal.

Every quarter, I schedule time to sit down and review the goals against my progress in achieving them, and adapt them as needed.  I celebrate each one I accomplish, especially the stretch goals.  Additionally, I celebrate my failures.  This is important as we learn from failing as much as we do from succeeding.  When I fail, I take the time to ask myself why and what I learned.  Is it something I want to attempt again now that I know where things went wrong?  Or is it better to walk away and fight another day or another battle?

For whatever reason, the above works for me.  If you find yourself wanting to set goals, but can’t seem to make progress towards achieving them, try a Dematurity or Strategic Priority plan.  Some folks, even non-OCD ones like me, need a little more structure to be successful.  Most of all, have fun!  The journey to completing the goal is where we really grow and triumph, not when we cross the finish line.

Oh, one more important thing!  Share the goals with someone who can help keep you on track or put them some place you can see them everyday.   I leverage both and have yet to miss a major goal in three years.

I would love to hear what you are striving to do in 2014 and what helps keep you on track with your goals and dreams!

Happy New Year to all of you!

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