As Quarter 4 gets off to a start, you’re probably focused on meeting your quarter and end-of-year goals. On top of that, the changing seasons and upcoming holidays give you even more to think about. It’s easy to get caught up and let future planning slide a bit.

Even with all of this end-of-year pressure, now is the right time to start planning for Q1. Don’t wait until after the rush of the holidays! Here’s what you need to know.

Plan Ahead to Get Ahead

One of the main advantages of planning ahead is having plenty of time to work through your ideas and set up an arrangement with plenty of time to research, add details, schedule events, etc.

Also, planning out the first quarter of the year often happens at the same time as you sketch out a plan for the entire year. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to dedicate to such a big task so you don’t run out of energy and ideas.

Planning for Q1 Success

Before you jump into what you want to accomplish next year, take some time to have a look at how this year went. Did you meet your goals? Why or why not? What were some of the high points of the year and how can you carry that success forward? What needs to be scrapped entirely?

Planning for the new year is also a good time to see if your company’s main goals, image, and digital assets are still working for you or if they’ve gone stale. Will next year bring a rebranding? A rebuild of your website? A new social media launch?

Once you’ve spent some time with the past, it’s time to get started on the future. Create new goals based on what you’ve learned from the past while also considering new areas or markets to pursue. Make sure your goals are SMART:

  • Specific: clearly define what you want to accomplish, why it is important, and how you’ll achieve it.
  • Measurable: you want goals that are quantifiable so you can tell whether you’ve achieved it. Include smaller milestones so you can mark progress throughout the year.
  • Agreed Upon: nothing is more frustrating than being pulled in different directions with no clear idea of which is best. Make sure all involved agree on your plans.
  • Realistic: okay, maybe one thing is more frustrating! Trying to achieve the unachievable is nothing short of demoralizing for the whole team. Make sure you have the resources and knowledge to reach your goals–or a plan for how to acquire them.
  • Time-Based: a bit of urgency will keep your team motivated to succeed–just be sure you’ve allotted enough time or you’ll be stuck with burnout mid-year.

Lastly, visualize your goals and map out who will be responsible for achieving which goals, or smaller segments of broader goals. Your team is more likely to be successful when each member knows how he or she fits into the bigger picture.

Get Started!

Now is the time to get a jump on next year so you can stay focused on achieving your goals rather than defining them. Review what’s working, dump what isn’t, and set a course for the upcoming months that will excite and inspire your team. If you need a little help, that’s what we’re here for!

Strategic planning kit