Posted On November 24, 2014

I’d like to propose that at this time of year we all need to become alchemists.

With the tendency to come back from our summer break with big visions and fuzzy dreams, we can get lost in trying to think about all the big things that need to happen. We often return to work in January full of amazing ideas of how this year, we will change the world; this year, we will be transformational; this year, we will achieve our big hairy aggressive goals.

In the first couple of weeks of the year, there is a distinct danger that if we spent too much time with our head in the clouds visioning our future success, we will miss the starting gun and quickly fall behind. The race is on and to reach the winning line, we need to be quick off the mark. We must adopt a very logical and practical approach to achieving our targets for next year.

But how do we quickly get into action? How do we distil the key actions and tasks from vague dreams?

So let’s imagine that distillation is like alchemy, a process designed to separate a mixture into different components, to extract the essence of something whilst removing impurities so we can collect a pure end product.

For our purposes, the pure end product is a set of rational, sensible, practical tasks that we can action immediately to generate results. It’s like the strongest spirits, once distilled, you only need to drink a little to feel the effects – it’s just more efficient, focused and productive!

The impurities that we want to remove are the crazy risky ideas that have no precedent, the tasks that seem intuitively like a waste of time, the ambiguous meetings that go on for hours, the nebulous processes that have no clear purpose, and the in-depth reports that have tenuous value.

But how do we make the impurities vaporise so we are left with only the strong, pure, powerful tasks? We only want actions that are essential to our success, the elixir of victory.

It is a time for clever prioritisation and making smart choices.

  1. Know your short term objectives
  2. Get focused on what really matters
  3. Do more of less
  4. Know your short term objectives.
    Without overanalysing them, break down your annual goals into small bite sized chunks, consider seasonal patterns and set weekly and daily targets.
  5. Get focused on what really matters.
    Know what your prioritises are; ask yourself what will bring you the greatest short term gain at this time of year, what processes if fixed will have the biggest impact, where are you losing the most money or making the most money and where is most time being wasted, focus on one thing and get everyone to agree that where the energy should go.
  6. Do more of less.
    Don’t spread yourself too thin, repeat one key activity over and over again. Pay attention to what is working and be selective. Do what works and let go of the impurities (the time wasting activities that have little commercial impact).

It’s a common misconception that we need to think big at the beginning of year. In business, I would like to propose that the first few months of the year are not the time to be focusing on creative, innovative and unproven projects, and setting big visions for the future.  In the current climate we need immediate action. We can have the luxury of doing this big picture thinking later in the year when we have a few runs on the board, when we have clocked up some miles, when we have scored a few goals! Sadly, while setting our resolutions, we can lose traction and often drift off course.

So we need to be like the alchemists of old, cleverly distilling business ideas until the pure and powerful elixir is produced.

Jacky Morgan has over 15 years’ experience working in advertising, marketing and management in the financial services industry. Over the past 5 years Jacky has had the opportunity to coach and train a diverse range of clients using her interactive, solutions-focused, goal-orientated approach. Jacky has a solid understanding of the theory of motivation, coaching psychology and behavioural change, sourced from practice as well as her Masters in Organisational Coaching from The University of Sydney. Jacky is a facilitator and executive coach – and passionate learning professional at – TP3.