It’s 2020! A new year! A new decade! Get excited people!

 

Such is the theme of many articles this week. You’ve likely read at least one of them, and yes, we’ve written a few of them ourselves.

 

But as you’re getting set for this new year, new decade and new you, it’s equally important to pause and determine how you’re going to get there.

 

Goals without set action plans don’t happen, and if you have a lengthy mental list about all the things you want to do in 2020 (we know that people who write down their goals are roughly 1.4 times more likely to accomplish those goals) without a framework, then you’re setting yourself up for burnout right around Valentine’s Day.

 

You don’t want you to crash and burn, and we don’t want you to either. Here are four guiding principles to help you NOT get overwhelmed in 2020.

 

1. Work in threes

 

Instead of keeping long lists (to-do lists, goals lists, don’t forget to tell your boss lists) stop at three. Three is an easy amount for our brains to both digest and take seriously.

 

Ask yourself these questions…and write the answers down!

 

  • What three professional goals do I want to accomplish this year? (Ideas: attend a conference, hit a certain number in sales, deliver a presentation, etc.)
  • What three things must I accomplish this quarter to work toward those goals?
  • What are my three big projects to finish this week?
  • What are my three priorities today? (For bonus points, we recommend asking this question at the end of every day for the next day, i.e. “What are my three priorities for tomorrow?” This creates a nice close to the end of a day and establishes exactly where you need to start your day tomorrow, thus saving time trying to remember where you left off.)

 

2. Utilize a Power Hour

 

Let’s face it: many of the things you may want to accomplish within a given year don’t fit into the day-to-day routine of your job demands (thank you email, text and the 2020 always on communication styles). A power hour gives you permission to tackle those bigger goals a little bit at a time. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Pick one thing you need to do every day in order to WIN at your job. For me, it’s write. I need to do something writing related for our company, not clients, one hour every day. If you’re a marketing director, then it might be sales. If you’re a manager, it might be employee coaching. Pick one broad thing that will have an impact on the overall quality of your job performance.
  • Put it on your calendar. Treat this hour like a meeting that can’t be moved. Ever.
  • Turn your notifications off on all your devices. Trust me, your emails can go unanswered for an hour and everything will be okay.

 

The key to Power Hour is focus. Focus on what matters most. Focus while you’re doing it. You won’t imagine how liberating it is to go home at night knowing you did something productive toward the big picture of your career for one hour every day.

 

3. Start and end your day the same way every day

 

Research shows that the fewer decisions you have to make every day—down to where to put your pen on your desk after you’ve used it—creates space in your brain for bigger, far more important decisions (no offense to your pen placement of course.)

 

In this crazy world of chaos and ever-changing financial landscape, it’s crucial to have something reliable in your work day. Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Read your credit union or bank’s mission statement every morning
  • Read three business articles every morning
  • Write one encouraging email (bonus points for a hand-written note) to a teammate before leaving every evening
  • Read one chapter in a professional development book before leaving every evening

 

(Are you noticing a theme of recommending reading? More on that here.)

 

  1. Ask “what if” once a week

 

The potential downside of established routines—which the previous three principles clearly preach—is a reduction in creativity. To combat that, we leave you with our final principle: ask “what if” once a week.

 

Asking “what if” lets you look at what you’re doing, what’s working and what’s not working. Some examples:

 

  • What if our team had a stand-up meeting every week?
  • What if we deleted our Twitter account?
  • What if we dressed our CEO up as a banana and sent him to local grocery stores to promote the new credit card?

 

 

The bottom line when it comes to 2020: you don’t have to do everything. You just have to do the right things. Hopefully these principles will guide you as you figure out what those right things are.

 

Got questions? We’ve got answers. Email me at elizabeth@markarnold.com to start talking.

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