Originally published by Orange Leaf Consulting on January 4, 2021

Throughout history, elected leaders have assumed their office with a plan—or at least a few goals—relating to what they hope to accomplish over their first one hundred days.

There’s nothing magic about that number. It doesn’t even really jive with the calendar; it’s not the first quarter, it’s the first quarter and ten extra days. But nonetheless, it’s been a standard for American achievement for many, many years.

As we venture optimistically into this New Year, we all have some ideas on how we would like to see 2021 shape up.  And as we all contemplate what we need to do to make it a winning year, maybe a focus on its first one hundred days is a good start.

Think of it as your first quarter, if that’s easier. Regardless, there are always certain tasks that a new year brings, and most likely those are already on your to-do list. But rather than echo the paradigm of traditional New Year’s Resolutions, which tend to be well-intentioned but usually fuzzy in execution, a one hundred day window requires structure and strategy.

We all start the year as a blank slate, and it’s a natural opportunity to put plans into action that you’ve been considering for months, maybe years, as soon as the right time arises.

Well, maybe this is the time you have been waiting for.

Since everything always starts with a plan—my mantra!—so does this. But it needn’t be overly complicated. Just a quick set of notes, maybe even handwritten, that defines a handful of SMART goals that apply to your situation. (You know, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.)

Determine who’s involved, and talk them through their tasks, in EARLY January. (One hundred days goes surprisingly fast.) And if your ideas affect a wide range of your team members, make sure they know.

Perhaps the most important aspect of your plan is timing. I don’t have to tell you that a schedule that looks completely reasonable in a calendar can often go by the boards when those little fires start breaking out.

That’s why the “R” in SMART goals can alternately be “realistic.” Build in more time than you think you need, and keep in mind that there are a lot of ideas that simply can’t come to fruition within a three-month period.  Let the timeline drive your agenda—you’re the one setting these deadlines, so be kind to yourself. You want to feel successful at the end of those hundred days, so be realistic.

And when it comes to timing, make sure you keep an eye on the clock. As I said, those hundred days will go fast, and it will be easy to let those carefully laid plans go by the wayside when real life starts to butt in. Put alarms on your calendar with key dates, to remind you to keep your ideas moving forward.

And try to avoid taking the easy way out and just rescheduling everything to summer. I know, it’s always tempting, but like I said earlier—if not now, when?

Happy New Year, and Grow Big or Go Home!

Posted by Editorial Staff

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