As a business owner, it's easy to allow fire drills to rule your day. If you're like the multitude of leaders I work with the day begins with a plan. Unfortunately, your plans are quickly derailed by endless meetings, emails (which is of the devil) with other people's demands of you and your time, and unexpected needs of you from others. Plans then go unattended, strategic efforts linger in a limbo-state and forget about time to focus on your needs. The demands of a business can run the day, and that does not mean you are strategic.

The benefit of a milestone like a year ending, is it signals reflection and a restart to our "best-laid plans." While your business may already be planning its objectives and key results for the coming new year, it's not too late to answer this one crucial question for 2018: What do you want?

It is a deceptively simple question. As a business owner, it is so simple to slip into becoming overly excited by all the good things you want to accomplish. Not only is this dangerous to progress, but it also positions your team to feel overwhelmed by the number of essential projects. Remember, you can have just one #1 priority. You need your team to have the energy, enthusiasm, and to feel committed to your company's purpose and their own, too.

So, to get clarity about your focus for 2018, spend the next week mulling over your answer to "What do I want?" Write your ideas down in a notebook. I want to nudge you in the direction of drilling down into an emotional answer. Not an answer like "increased revenue," or "launch a new product," or even "expand our market presence." These are outcomes critical to your company's success. Without an emotional tug for what you want, you increase the odds of not achieving what you want. What's more, your employees may hear what you want like Charlie Brown's teacher prattling on and on. With this in mind, here are some questions for you to consider when drilling deeper into this inquiry:

  • What would bring you joy in 2018?
  • What would inspire your employees to find a new level of commitment to the company's cause?
  • What could you spend more time doing outside of work if 2018 was your best year ever?
  • How would your family benefit from a brilliant 2018?
  • How would your employees benefit from a brilliant 2018? Your Customers?
  • What is the wildest personal goal you have always wanted to accomplish but couldn't because of finances?
  • How could your relationship with your kids strengthen if you had more time with them?
  • What hobby could you take up because you implemented a major project in 2018?
  • What benefit could you offer to employees if the business achieved its major objectives in 2018?

To find that compelling question to help you uncover what you want, shift the focus away from the business. Instead, humanize the question. Focus on you, your team, your family, the community, your customers.

2018 can be your best year ever. Be sure to frame success with the emotions you need to summon the conviction and intentions necessary to have a laser sharp focus in the coming year.

You've got this.