Why Setting Goals For 2022 Involves A Lot Of Saying NO
I am someone who really likes setting goals, intentions and targets to work towards - anyone who has worked with me in the last few decades will attest to that. I use the same drive towards outcomes now as I did when I was a 19 year old upstart with a single shop, which turned into one of the most disruptive brands in the travel sector and dominated an industry.
My passion for business remains and my drive towards achieving great things is as strong as ever, maybe more so in fact.
As I sit here right now assessing (as I have been across most of Q4 to be honest) I look at the past year as a great year of stability. The foundations for a lot of great things have been put in place, many seeds have been sown and the fruits of a lot of behind the scenes labour will come to fruition in the next year.
I spent a lot of 2021 using the time to deeply rethink, regroup in a way, and re-strategise the focus of my efforts and energy.
If I use an analogy that goes back to my football days, this year I have been like a manager who is pointing the team towards winning the Premier League next season. When I owned Huddersfield Town we had a number of seasons exactly like this! In business terms, this year, I have strengthened the squad, built the team and got the right players in the right positions.
And I genuinely feel that 2022 is going to be my best year in business yet - there are so many irons in the right fires that this next 12 months is gearing up to be special. For those of you who have known me for a while, the statement that the next year will be my best ever might sound like a tall order, but I genuinely believe it.
But - and it is a BIG but - for this next year to be as impactful, powerful and influential then there is something I need to do more than anything else… and that is SAY NO.
So, there are going to be a number of people that I’m leaving in 2021 and a number of business ‘opportunities’ that I am leaving here too.
For total transparency, there are 6 people that I am leaving behind and in most cases I actually let these people know, as nicely as possible. Now of course, I don’t get on the phone and say ‘hey Bob, I am afraid that I no longer want to be your friend’ but I will contact people and let them know why I will be stepping back from the relationship or arrangements we have together. I’ll explain how my vision doesn’t line up with the direction they are headed in and I’ll wish them well.
It’s important to know that this isn’t a knee jerk reaction, I don’t just decide over the Christmas break that I need to cut out Bob (no offence to any Bob’s I happen to be connected with!) it’s a decision reached over a period of time that results in me thinking about what's working for me and what's not.
The people I am committed to having in my circle are the sort of individuals that you get excited about chatting to when you see their name pop up on your phone. If there is anyone who instantly gives you negative vibes at just the sight of their name, then they have to go! People that give you that sinking feeling will drain your energy and your energy is precious, you need to protect it like you would any other commodity.
Here’s an interesting point about how saying no to one thing allows the space for something else; of those six people I am not taking with me into 2022, there are two who were prospective consultancy / mentoring clients, who I have politely declined to work with. In the end these were easy decisions to make - when I am working with clients on a consultancy basis I spend a lot of time (and again, energy) on them and with them. As I am usually brought in to help seriously accelerate their scale up phase or help them with the vital acquisition stage, the relationship between us is essential as pressure is high, so I can - or, probably more accurately, will - only work with those who I can align myself with.
I mentioned above that saying no to one thing makes space for something else and this is absolutely the case with regards to the two potential clients I have preemptively ‘cancelled’; I now have time in the diary for two new, additional clients. Clients I would prefer to work with, clients I can add more value to, clients who can benefit from my extensive experience, clients I can help scale faster, clients I can help exit their business for more money etc.
Great, by saying ‘no’ to one thing I am making the space to say ‘yes’ to something else.
As well as the six people I have already mentioned (I wonder how many will read this blog!?) there are also three businesses that I will not be progressing with in 2022. These are organisations that I have already spent a good amount of time assessing, multiple meetings have been had, I have had a close ‘look under the hood’ at the brands, I have seen where I can add value, how this works in regards to my existing portfolio etc. As you might be able to tell from the above, I have invested significant time into a couple of these businesses, but still the right thing to do is to stop, kindly let them know my involvement (or potential involvement) is a no-go and wish them well with their ventures.
I think that we can all find ourselves - at times - being guilty of staying involved in something for too long due to the effort, money or time we have already invested, but sometimes we have to walk away. And, in my opinion, the start of a new year is a good time for that exact assessment!
Now with the people and business I am saying goodbye to in 2021 I am always honest and I am always kind with my feedback - I'm not trying to create any enemies here. I am just trying to create more focus on what’s important.
The other thing that I have decided that is going to be a big focus for me in 2022 - and yet another reason to say no to more stuff - is that I am going to spend more time with myself. I don't give myself enough time. I often find myself being too available to the wrong people whereas I need to have more availability for the right people.
But, as well as that - and probably more importantly frankly - I also need to be available to myself. I need to give myself a little bit more downtime, a little time to think and reflect. Sometimes a ‘day off’ can be your most productive day; clarity of thought, refreshed energy, a renewed perspective when you take yourself out of the immediacy of decisions, time to plan, an opportunity to reflect and a chance to strategise.
Despite the hustle culture that is often waved like a flag of stature, there is true power in taking time out and having a day off as an entrepreneur… I might not have listened to that advice in my younger years, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, right!
So, I urge you, as you sit and commit your plans to paper over the next few days don’t just think about the goals, targets, aspirations, outcomes and KPIs that you are going to go after in this next year, but also take some time to think deeply about what you're not going to do, what you're going to leave behind and who you're not going to take with you into 2022.
To go back to the football analogy (or soccer for my many American friends!) at the beginning, for me, 2021 has been a year of stability, of growing, of restructuring and of rebuilding my team so that I am in the position to not only win the treble next year, but also the Champions League as well.
And that can only happen by me knowing when to say yes, but equally importantly, when to say no in 2022.
Wishing you a fantastically exciting and incredibly successful new year.