Debriefing|Questions to Plan for Next Year

037: Debriefing: Five Key Questions to Plan for Next Year [Podcast]

by | Dec 10, 2013 | 0 comments

Don’t live last year over again! Last year may have been wonderful, a dismal failure, or just a minor disappointment. Either way, you do not want to experience the same thing again. You want to grow. You want new challenges and new successes. So, before you jump into planning for next year, a good process is to look back to last year and ask yourself some key questions.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons/FtCarsonPAO [/featured-image]


First I will share some of my favorite tools, then I will jump right into the key questions you need to ask (and answer) to help you plan for a powerful year.  Then at the end I will address two listener questions.

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*NOTE: If you are reading this in email, you will need to go to Itunes or my blog to get access to this show.

Works for Me: Tools and Tips for Productivity and Profit

My current home office has a large 10 x 5 workout mirror on the wall. Because of the mirror and doors and windows I have little room for a whiteboard. So I decided to try a mirror board instead. But I could not find a marker that worked well such that it was easy to clean up and showed up really well. But now I have discovered Crayola Glass Markers. These are a great tool. So if you have glass or mirrors in your offices, you can make them double as a planning board. Best part yet, you can tell your kids and grad kids that you play with Crayons at work!

[reminder] What tips can you add to the list? [/reminder]

Topic of the Week: Debriefing Last Year as You Plan for Next Year

In episode 35 on Preparing to Plan for Next Year, I discussed the idea of getting yourself prepared to plan. Here I wanted to share some of the advice from highly successful business people on how they plan. I have collected advice from numerous people and tried to pull it together into a simple formula.

First, prepare for your annual planning. I do need to restate that planning is a personal process. Make sure when you plan that you are using a method that works for you and your personal style.

Second, avoid having a “Groundhog Year.” Remember the movie “Groundhog Day” where the main character lives his one day over and over. Many of us do this every year. While this repetition is comfortable and familiar, repetition is not growth. All growth happens outside of your comfort zone. So while your process to plan needs to be something you are comfortable in doing, your goals need to stretch you.

Third, list your projects. In Episode 35 I mentioned that I was capturing all my projects and ideas in one place. Now I need to organize these ideas. What fits together and  where? Organization helps me think. Some of the categories showing up for me are a) personal, b) family, c) financial, d) work, etc. I also have a category for each business venture. You might also have a category for a hobby.

Fourth, do a debriefing. Military assignments often end with a debriefing sessions where pilots and soldiers are asked questions about the previous mission. The goal is to get intelligence, figure out what worked and what did not, and prepare the individual for their next assignment. You have just fought a one year battle. Now it is time to learn and prepare for the next mission.

Your debriefing should come via self-evaluation throughout these five key questions. Your answers can help you determine which actions you should and should not take next year.

Your Five Questions to Plan for Next Year

  1. What worked well over the last year? What were you surprised that it worked so well? What seemed comfortable? Where did you connect well with others? List those 2-3 things that you felt really worked.
  2. What did not work or was frustrating? What kind of things never seemed to work out no matter how much you tried or thought about them?
  3. What worries are you taking into next year? What looming issues are bothering you. I mention these because worries do not go away. Whether you control the outcome or not, these items will consume your time. You can take some time to get clarity on how you will respond to these worries. Take time to clearly identify your worries, as well as your options for dealing with them. Write everything out on paper.
  4. What are you really good at doing? Consider those things you love to do and excel at doing.
  5. What was missing last year? What really held you back?

Listener Questions

I addressed two common listener questions briefly on the podcast. I will cover them in more detail on a later podcast. The two questions are as follows:

  1. Given the amount of free information, is information marketing a dying field?
  2. Do the ideas in The 4-Hour Workweek really work?


Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned some resources, including:

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[reminder] What do you think about debriefing as a planning tool?  [/reminder]

About the Author

Dale Callahan

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