Annual Planning: Goals and Actions Plans

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

You wake up on January 2nd remembering a great celebration ushering in the new year last night. You realize that the time for celebration is over, and it is now time to begin a new year. The business of the holidays is in your rear-view mirror, and you begin to think about the new year. You recall what you have learned from business books and your own personal experiences and realize you need a plan!

You begin with excitement in your planning for the new year, and then you realize that a good plan is going to take some time — maybe months — to create. You feverously get busy making some plans for the new year. You then ask yourself some basic questions, such as, “How do I set a plan for the entire year? That’s twelve months, and I am already two days into the first month.”

You begin to panic a bit and then rationalize, “Well, I can get started and use January to put together an eleven-month plan! Brilliant, I will take the month of January to break down my eleven-month plan into detailed goals and a plan of action for each goal.” You mentally pat yourself on the back and rest in your idea for a successful completion of an eleven-month plan by February 1st. “It’s easy — just plan to hit my annual, twelve-month goals with an eleven-month plan.”

This scene plays out over the next two months. In February you realize that you have not thought about your annual plan, so now you begin to justify in your mind a beautiful ten-month plan! This scenario plays out in March, as well, and mentally you begin to justify a nine-month plan.

There is one more scenario that I often see happening even with well-planned annual goals. You have your plan set before the new year begins … perfect. Now the next memory you have of your plan is in March when you remember the plan that you had in place, but you can’t remember what it was or where it is. You forgot monthly tracking! Monthly tracking is a critical exercise in the execution of your plan. An annual plan that is not tracked monthly is useless.

If this hypothetical story does not sound familiar, count yourself among the lucky ones! My 40-plus years of experience tell me that this or a similar story describes approximately 90% of every person reading this article. The new year slips up on almost everyone. Even in the hallowed halls of corporate America, this same scenario plays out every year. In frustration most people will come up with what they think is a plan to just “work hard” and “hope” all goes well.

The purpose of the beginning of this article was to get your attention. The fact is that if you don’t have a plan, you are “shooting in the dark,” and the best time to plan for the new year is the last quarter of the old year. If you have a plan in place by year end, you will have all twelve months to hit a twelve-month plan. The secret in annual planning is to start before the new year begins.

There are three parts to an annual plan: Part one is the Strategic Vision. Part two is Annual Goals, and Part three is Action Plans for each Goal. There is a process to each of the three parts. I normally reserve this process training to my corporate clients, but this year I want to try something new … something I’ve never done before.

On three evenings during December, on the 5th, 12th, and 19th, and on one evening on January 2nd, I will be personally leading an exclusive Annual Goal Planning Series. I will be teaching the three parts of an effective annual plan. My objective is to help all participants complete an annual goals plan for 2020! I will conduct this training by Zoom, and it will be recorded for review and replay. Also, I will be available, at a significantly reduced cost, to any participant for individual coaching on your plan.

You can find all the details here. Also, don’t miss next month’s article where I’ll be giving the beginning instructions to prepare for the planning sessions. Learn from the past and make 2020 the year to have your plan in place before the year begins. Again, you can find all the details to register up here. You don’t miss this significant event!

Until next time, may God Bless.



David Byrd is an author, coach, consultant, and a developer of personal growth behaviors in pursuit of Achievement. Founder and CEO of The Byrd Group, he is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders and their organizations worldwide utilizing a system of personal management and achievement called the Next Level Achievement System™. He is a best-selling author with four published books, a sought after speaker, and leadership development consultant.