The beginning of the year is a time when I typically set aside time to evaluate the past year and incorporate those reflections into my plans for the coming year. Although plans and goals for each year should generally be in place well before January 1st, reflection and modification is usually in order.

If I haven’t completed my planning for the upcoming 12 months, I make sure those plans are written in the first two weeks of the year. They might change, but the act of thinking it through and writing or drawing my plan is very powerful.

As Tom Hopkins says, people with written plans are 1000 times more likely to accomplish those goals!! I know, I know…you’ve heard that at least 1,000 times!! But I’ll probably say it a few more because I believe in it so strongly!!

Information and data is critical to evaluating your business. Perhaps you have great data from the prior year. Perhaps not. Let’s talk about both situations.

If you have been keeping your books properly, you have a P&L to examine and a final bank statement. How do these documents compare to your goals? How do your Budget-to-Actuals look? You can get a really good feel for the success of your prior year and have a powerful way to set financial goals for 2015.

For me, running my business is more of an emotional battlefield. I think a lot in terms of how I felt about the year, whether or not I met my goals and if I felt good doing it. Did I have fun? Did I worry a lot? Did I meet my own expectations? Did my employees grow? How did our reputation as a company build or change during the year?

One of my favorite ways for evaluating those aspects of business is to keep a business journal. It’s not fancy or lengthy. I use a daily planner and when I think of it, I record a rating on my performance for the day and I include a few words about things that either are really working, or things that really aren’t. I have used these journals over time to identify trends and issues; then I can implement actions to build or fix as needed.

My suggestions for this week:

1) Purchase a 2015 daily planner – the format I like is pictured below. Just enough space for a few words per day.

2) Write a few sentences about your evaluation of yourself and your business in 2014 in the front of the planner. If you’re having trouble getting started, consider these two questions:

a. What things were the most frustrating for you in 2014?

b. What things were the most successful for you in 2014?

3) Start to prepare your goals for 2015 (if you haven’t already!). I’ll post some suggestions for how to effectively do that next week!