The Fourth Quarter Plan

No PowerPoint Required

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Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

For many years I worked as a corporate executive, writing PowerPoint decks, presenting plans, and reporting results to management and shareholders. Now, I consult to a few tech companies who engage me in their strategic planning.

This September will mark my 16th year as a founder/entrepreneur (which sounds way more glamorous than it is, in reality, most days). I don’t miss endless meetings, political battles, or downsizings. I do find myself missing accountability, however.

Once a quarter we would file into a big and sometimes scary conference room to report on results for the previous quarter and plans for the following one.

So, as I approach the last quarter of the year, I decided to reflect on the accomplishments of the past quarter and set some goals for the upcoming one.

The big difference is that as I get older (and presumably wiser), my goals are a healthy blend of business and personal objectives. For example,

  1. FAMILY ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GOALS: My younger daughter got engaged in the third quarter and I visited my daughters back east for a week. I am committing to help with her wedding planning (when and if the bride-to-be wants it, but will not meddle or nag). A family Thanksgiving is in-the-works and I will keep my phone down when I’m with them.
  2. WELLNESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GOALS: Although I’ve been dabbling with a health and wellness regimen since the beginning of the year, my travel schedule (and stress related to work deadlines and loneliness living in a new city – not to mention middle-age hormones) have taken their toll on my gym routine. Now, with a MOB (mother-of-bride) incentive, I am back to lifting, spinning, and eating clean. And, when toxic people attempt to wipe the smile off my face and stress me out, I just pity them and ignore them. I will embrace aging and get at least 7 hours’ sleep a night.
  3. WORK ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GOALS: My personal writing (like this column) has sometimes suffered due to my focus on client work, but I was super-prolific this quarter and my Grammarly scores are on the upswing. In the fourth quarter, I will continue to build my client base and remember my missing commas. I’m continuing to build my professional tribe in Arizona (my relatively new home) and learn some new useful tech skills.
  4. FUN/PASSION ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GOALS: Needless to say, this was definitely not a category in my business reporting in my previous life. This past quarter I saw The Rolling Stones and The English Beat live and stayed in a glam trailer park hotel by the Pacific Ocean. I made some new friends and got back in touch with old ones. I planned a trip to New York and updated my “100 Things That Make Me Happy” list on my phone. (I started it at a time in my life when I was really sad. I needed to remind myself of the MANY things that give me joy.)

Reflecting back on accomplishments and setting goals for the future will keep me from looking back on my life five years from now and saying, “I wish I had done [fill in the blanks].

I do not have to present monthly progress reports to anyone except myself. I suppose I could create KPIs (key performance indicators) against each of those categories and turn them into pretty charts and graphs. But I’d rather use the time to buy tickets to a concert, to look for my next challenging assignment, or have a wild adventure with someone I love.

Make EVERY quarter count.

Take the opportunities…leave the PowerPoint.

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