20:20 is perfect vision. What a great metaphor for the new year, don't you think?
And I don’t have perfect vision. But I do love that as I sit here and write this, contact lenses and all, I have a vision of what 2020 looks like for me. Yes, it includes some uncertainty, ‘what-ifs’ and dependencies: so it’s not perfect. But...I have a vision that I’m really happy with and compelled by. It will drive me forward with clarity and confidence.
There are goals, outcomes, metrics, milestones and KPIs and yes they are specific, measurable…you know the deal. Most importantly, however, together they indicate to me the type of person I need to be to achieve those goals. What behaviours I need to demonstrate, what habits I need to create, what people I hang around with and where I spend my time, just to name a few.
This process crystallised for me when I decided to write my book for female finance leaders, Meaning Matters: Results Beyond the Numbers. Like many accountants, I am very structured in my approach to work, often working backwards from the desired outcome. So when I decided to write my book and had figured out the deadline I was writing to, after the initial, ‘oh sh!t, that doesn’t give me long!’ moment, I started doing what us numbers people do best: I started breaking it down into numbers (of chapters and words) and dates (days available and deadlines).
It quickly became very clear that if I wanted to publish this book, within the given timeline, I needed to set myself up for success. It wasn’t going to write itself, and not having ever written a book before, I didn’t know how the editing, copy-editing, typeset review, cover design, etc process worked. I sought professional help and engaged a team to support me with the editing and publishing, but I still had clients to serve and a business to continue to operate at the same time.
I still had BAU. I'm sure you can relate to the challenge...how can I achieve something big and inspiring, whilst not dropping the ball on my BAU?
My shift in perspective
I asked myself, ‘what does an author look like?’ In fact, as you can see from my giant post-it note below, the question was more like 'who is the kind of person who writes a book?’ Below that, I wrote out the characteristics and habits that, in my mind’s eye, were that of a successful author.
In the planning stages...it was this exercise that gave me the clarity I needed to successfully write, publish and release my book this year!
But in writing those things down, I could focus on achieving those things and not about the ‘big’ goal of writing the book. Because if I did all of those things I had written down, the book would come.
Now, there were some on that page that were more important than others, and some certainly changed in practice. For example:
Some days writing 1,000 words/ day was easy, some days it was impossible. But in total I ended up writing 20,000 more words than I intended in the same amount of time, so it’s fair to say, I hit my target.
I did go to bed early. Really early. I am a lark, and so I woke at 3:30am every business day for 3 weeks (I wrote on the weekend, too, but allowed myself a sleep in to 5:30am) to get through the draft manuscript. This meant I needed to manage the expectations of my family that for 3 weeks, I’d be a little MIA. Not ideal, but I thought okay for a 3 week sprint. It was crunch time.
I meditated and ran…. most days. I know these help me be my best, and ‘best me’ I needed to be.
But, like training for a half marathon, I didn't focus on the big result. I just turned up to each training session and did the piece of work that cumulatively would bring me to finish the complete work.
My commitment turned into intention
I think what was most important about the commitment I made was that I needed to be intentional about what I did, who I did it with and where I spent my time. And I think in the time since going through that process, that lesson has remained front of mind for me.
It’s like Stephen R. Covey’s book, “First Things First” where the fundamental principle is know what you want. Know what’s important and what’s urgent, and the difference between each. Because basically, if you know what’s important, you know what to say no to. You know how to deal with urgent issues when they arise: are they important or not? You become a bit like teflon because decision-making becomes pretty easy.
When you know what’s important, you know what to focus your attention and energy on. You know what 2020 looks like.
Why you want to make decision-making easy
Did you just say to yourself, ‘Alena, that’s ridiculous, decision making isn’t easy.’ I get it: many of us interpret the phrase ‘decision making’ to the challenging decisions they need to make at work. And because the decisions themselves are challenging, that’s what makes decision making taxing on us.
I was recently reminded of this at workshop I attended where Rehabilitation Consultant, Jo Muirhead, shared with us her views on the types of fatigue we can suffer and what contributes to that fatigue. To summarise for you, Jo shared with us 3 types of fatigue:
Cognitive fatigue. e.g, related to decision making
Emotional fatigue: e.g. related to our relationships with people
Physical fatigue: e.g. related to over or under exercise
We discussed how one type of fatigue can precipitate or accelerate the onset of fatigue in another area. For example, the situation whereby you’ve spent a whole week trouble shooting issues at work, getting yourself out a crisis and fighting fires (i.e. cognitive fatigue) and how by Friday evening you’ve turned into a couch potato, unable to move (physical fatigue). Sound familiar? Or where you’ve had a big argument with someone in your family (emotional fatigue) and then find it hard to get the facts in order to make decisions at work that day. Have you ever struggled with this?
The point is, we make hundreds of decisions a day and the number increases exponentially if you are unclear about what you want.
Let’s get clear on what you want in 2020 and mitigate the risk of fatigue
Let’s get really clear on what 2020 looks like for you. What are the goals you’d like to achieve in 2020? Are they related to:
promotion or pay rise? A new job?
getting a seat at the table in a certain leadership team, Board or Steerco?
getting your team performing at their best and delivering high quality outputs?
improving relationships with certain senior stakeholders who can influence your success?
improving your confidence so that you unlock the potential that you’re currently keeping tucked away?
How do you become the type of person who achieves those goals?
How are you perceived? What is your profile?
Who is in your powerbase network?
What capabilities and skills do you demonstrate?
What habits do you have both inside and outside of work?
What beliefs do you need to create or let go of to elevate yourself?
So…what is your 2020 vision?
How do you make 2020 your best year yet?
I am delighted to share that I have 2 final spots available for my January ‘My Profile Matters: 2020’ program. If you are interested in finding out if you’re right for this program, click here. There are only 2 spots and they will fill fast, so check it out here now. It also includes a December discount!
There is no better time to put first things first than before you step on that hamster wheel. Give yourself this gift for Christmas.
Pssst. If you are a woman in finance, you need to grab a copy of my book. Recently released in both hard copy and e-book, this book is for all women in finance who want to progress their careers and perform with purpose in a practical way.
If this is you, please get in touch and you will be one of the first to receive this book written especially for you.
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Alena is an Advisor to Finance Executives, passionate about helping finance leaders achieve their goals and deliver outstanding results that inspires.
Her mission is to equip finance leaders with the skills needed to find their voice needed to increase their impact at work and achieve their purpose.