Ah, August. It's the best time of the summer, when you can kick back and really take a break from everything. Henry James said it best: "Summer afternoon - summer afternoon: To me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
I believe it's essential for all of us to "check out" at this time to year. Make sure that you take some time off during this beautiful month of August to get away from it all and relax. It is critical to re-energize yourself before gearing up again for the next stretch. For myself, I need four or five days away from work to really check out. A weekend just isn't enough.
Once you are relaxed and refreshed, you'll be ready to ask yourself the question posed by the American rock band Creed in their song "Are You Ready?" from their best-selling album "Human Clay."
Are you ready for what's to come? It's important to ask yourself this question in both your business and personal life. What's next for you? Are you ready for success?
I think we would agree that if you are better prepared for your future, you will likely achieve a higher level of success in your life. The same holds true for your "what is to come" question.
When August comes around, we start getting ready for the upcoming planning season. We are already getting ready for 2014 here at SM Advisors and with our clients. Getting ready and being prepared for the upcoming planning season is critical to a successful planning process for yourself, your business and your career.
After you return from your break, here are some important steps to take to prepare for your upcoming business or personal planning process:
? Evaluate your performance. Assess how you or your business have performed in 2013 or to this point in your business or career. Are you or your business as far along as you thought you would be?
? Clear your plate. Identify other tasks you need to get done so you can focus your energy on the planning process. Are there other projects you need to get done first before you start getting ready for what is to come?
? Define the process. As I discussed in last month's column, the success of your planning process is directly related to how well thought out your process is. If you don't have a process, there are complimentary templates on stopsellingvanillaicecream.com for both your personal and your business planning processes. We want to encourage you to use the life mapping process for your personal planning and the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream Process for your business.
? Define the process participants. For your company planning process, decide who is on the planning team.
? Find a planning partner/adviser. If you are developing a personal plan for your life, it's a good idea to have a planning partner walk through the process with you and hold you accountable. For your business, you should determine whether you have someone internally who can lead the process or if you will need someone external to your organization.
? Dropping the PastPack. One of the keys to a successful future is letting go of the past. You want to learn from the past but you cannot hold on to it. One of the ways we get planning teams prepared for the planning process is through our "Dropping the PastPack" process. Find a process that works for you, but it is critical that you work through and resolve any past issues you have with any of your teammates. You can either unpack the PastPack and work through it or you have to let it go. In order for the planning team to have the honest and candid discussions it needs to resolve the sensitive issues and develop the best strategy for the company, the team members have to be able to be shoot straight with each other.
I want to encourage you to enjoy the last month of summer and then take these steps to "Get ready for what's to come."