Getting the right financial start in the new year means first making sure you understand your past year. Regardless of your age or particular situation, I challenge you to look back on where you were a year ago.
Think about your health, family, work, and finances. Where were you then versus now, and what happened to impact those changes, positive or negative? Your ability to transform a negative into a positive, even if it doesn't turn out ideally, is a success.
It's important to take a moment to celebrate your wins and feel grateful both for your efforts and those who helped get you there. It provides the right mindset for a strong and successful 2019.
Some important questions to consider are:
- Did you meet your revenue goals?
- Is your team working together to your expectations?
- Are your customers delighted by the relationships you've created with them?
- From a personal point of view, how are your relationships with your family and other important people in your life?
- Have you experienced the levels of learning, leisure, and financial well-being that are important to you?
Now consider what didn't work to your expectations. Did you make decisions that took you further away from your values and desired outcomes? If so, why? What factors went into your decision and what would you differently now? Write down your answers and get familiar with them--it's crucial to be comfortable with your mistakes and learn from your weaknesses.
With those two sets of inputs in mind, you're ready to map out your finances in 2019 and move forward with purpose and momentum. Here are some steps to get you started:
Plant your flag.
What must happen for you to feel like you are moving forward in your business and your life? I call these your "Money Musts." This is where you (and any other stakeholders) need to declare your values clearly, succinctly, and factually. For example, "I must change my spending so that I can create the options and opportunities I most want in my future," or "This is the year I will invest in expanding and developing my sales team to grow my company's revenue".
Assemble your team.
Remember that no one, including you, can be an expert in everything. Consult with professionals who will help you move in the right direction. Ask questions about their credentials, experience, and whether they are working in your best interest. Who is the most qualified professional to help expand your sales team? Is how they are paid aligned with your mutual interests? When it comes to your own money, it's critical to work with a qualified professional who works for you. A financial advisor or financial planner can be anyone from a stockbroker or insurance agent to a fee-only certified financial planner. Choose the professionals who have the skills you need to help move your goals forward.
Create small, meaningful wins.
Sometimes when the goal is big, it's too easy to falter along the way. It's like with dieting--if you need to shed 30 pounds, it's intimidating. But if you instead decide to lose one pound at a time, you'll be more likely to accomplish the end goal. When it comes to your own finances, you can only control your actions one decision at a time. Your decision to avoid retail therapy or spend time analyzing/adjusting your investment strategy moves you closer to controlling unnecessary spending and reaching your retirement goals. When it comes to your business finances, making thoughtful, strategic decisions will help bring you closer to making 2019 a successful year.
Understand the ramifications of your decisions.
The first test is always whether each decision is properly aligned with your personal and business values and goals. Once you're certain, your next step before committing is to make sure you understand the financial impact of each decision. You want to test every decision to ensure it powers you in the right direction.
Know that missteps are not fatal.
Here's a test: stand in front of a cold mirror and breathe onto the glass. Did you fog it? Then you passed the test--you're human and your mistake wasn't fatal. If you've exceeded your budget or neglected to hire the right person this month, you haven't failed all together; you just need to do better tomorrow. Like the diet: one cookie doesn't shatter your chances for success, it only might delay it. Just stop eating the cookies and get back to your goal.
Mapping out your finances for the year is about far more than just your money. It's another chance to align your decisions with your values--to make meaningful progress toward the business and life you most want to create.