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December 9, 2021

As a Business Owner, I End Every Year with These Critical 3 R’s

It’s year-end and time once again for planning, but it’s not enough to just measure business
performance. You need to reflect, recalibrate, and recharge to deliver value and the desired
ROI.


Most leaders look back at the current year's activities during year-end strategic planning and
review things like employee performance, financial metrics, and Return on Investment (ROI).
But what if I told you that as a leader, there are three personal year-end activities that are
equally important to achieving more stellar personal and business performance? At first glance,
you may not think they’re critical, but they can have an immeasurable impact on ROI if you're
willing to make the investment. I call them the 3 R’s: Reflect, Recalibrate and Recharge, and
I’ve committed to practicing them at the end of every year in preparation for the next.

 
And the results have been stellar.

Reflect, Recalibrate, Recharge

Reflection is personal -> recalibration is organizational -> recharging is business owner focused.

Over the years, I’ve come to understand that being a more balanced, well-rounded, and effective
facilitator, trainer, speaker, and inclusive leader rests just as much on my ability to effectively
reflect, recalibrate, and recharge as my ability to push, prepare and perform. It is, in fact, the
reflection, recalibration, and recharging that makes the others possible. The three Rs have
helped me to create a much-needed rest and recovery cycle while improving my personal and
business performance. Let me share more about my annual journey through each, along with
some food for thought on how the R’s might look for you.


Reflect

To me, reflection is personal. It involves looking back at the previous year and assessing who
you were as a human being and leader versus who you aspire to be. Did you show up for others like you desire? Was your behavior inclusive on a day-to-day basis? Did you lean on faith in the way you aspire? These types of intentional reflection questions are vital to leadership, future planning, and success. Frankly, it can be challenging to make calculated future decisions without them.

 
It is important to note that reflection is not solely about considering the things you did wrong; it's also about acknowledging what you did right and celebrating your achievements and growth. As a high achiever, I understand all too well what it's like to constantly be looking for the next win. So much so that you fail to check the scoreboard and realize that you’re already winning! Celebrating those wins is crucial.

 
My reflection process consists of journaling, rereading old journal entries, and a year-in-review
exercise. Journaling helps me articulate my thoughts, consider new things (especially when
using prompts), and develop and track realistic and attainable goals. My year-in-review exercise
consists of a series of questions taken from my SMART goals that help me round-up stats from
my performance. It gives me somewhat of a highlight reel and helps me remember the progress
I’ve made.


Reflection has allowed me to answer some of these essential questions about my goals.

  • What have I accomplished in the previous year — or the previous few years that I am proud of?
  • Who and what are the people and things that I'm grateful to have in my life?
  • Where was I two years ago, where am I now, and what are my plans for what's to come?


Reflective activities for you can take on any form you choose. Maybe it’s creating checklists,
storyboarding, mapping activities to goals, or simply answering the questions that matter to you.
Some questions might be:

  • What are my top 5 personal values? Did I live this out this year? List a few examples.
  • What were my personal goals last year? Did I achieve them? Reflect on why or why not.
  • Am I satisfied with the amount of time I spent with family and friends? Why or why not?
  • Did I use my privilege to ally and/or advocate for others? List a few examples.

It's important to remember that reflection isn't just limited to the last 365 days – it can be for any time frame. 


Recalibrate

For me, recalibration is organizational. It is the process of carefully assessing where my business is, setting or resetting where I want it to be, and planning the necessary adjustments to get us there in the coming year. Following the COVID-19 crisis, many companies recognize the value of metrics, lessons learned, and the need to recalibrate their operations to ensure more successful business continuity. 

I believe this is something we should be doing on an annual basis, not solely in a crisis.

To recalibrate, I start by taking the pertinent information collected during reflection and plugging in the goals I generated pertaining to the business. Then, I get feedback from my team on those items, and we begin our AOP— our Annual Operating Plan. The AOP process includes financial planning, strategizing revenue-generating activities, and building an execution playbook, but it also includes planning sustainable changes to processes, technology, culture, and policies.

Through this process, we are able to answer questions like:

  • What needs to change in the way we do business?
  • What are our business goals for 2022, why, and how will we attain them?
  • Which processes are working, and which need improvement?
  • Are there new policies we need to implement?

Recalibration in your business might involve metrics around the same areas or others, such as governance, risk, etc. You might use this time to adjust ineffective processes, replace outdated technologies, or bolster your talent pool to improve next year’s business performance.

If you are not a business owner, recalibrating in the work that you do is still possible. Consider asking similar questions, but about your team and your KPIs provided by the organization instead. Reflection without recalibration can lead to frustration, stagnation, and a slow start to the year.


Recharge

For me, recharging is about the professional, in my case, the business owner. It is all about resting and holding space for the professional to check in, be cared for, and be revitalized.  It helps me avoid leadership fatigue at the end of the year or the beginning of another, which is crucial for a fast start.

This is where my annual retreat comes in, by far my favorite part of the three Rs! Each year I attend a retreat with five amazing entrepreneurial women that I've been blessed to have in my life. We use it as an opportunity to recharge and intentionally strike a balance between business, fun, and rest. We create time to spend together and intentionally build relationships, camaraderie, and have fun, but we also use the time to reflect collectively. We talk about:

  • How we are doing as humans
  • Who we are and want to be as women
  • Who we desire to be as leaders
  • How is our mental, emotional and spiritual health?
  • What are our self-care practices?
  • What are our business hacks?

We also look back at the goals that we set in the same meeting last year and make space to celebrate those, as nine times out of 10, we've achieved every one of them.

At year-end, whether it’s a retreat, a favorite vacation, or just spending time in a quiet place relaxing, your version of recharging should help you find some balance between business, fun, and rest. It should help you become the best version of yourself for your employees, customers, friends, family, colleagues, and your business as a whole. So, what will you do to recharge in the coming weeks?

Yes, year-end strategic planning is about business performance and metrics, but it's also about the value and indirectly measurable ROI of the three Rs: Reflect, Recalibrate, and Recharge. They can truly propel you forward as a more grounded, inclusive, and supportive leader — and with greater clarity about organizational and people goals as well as your purpose, vision, and truth.

The three Rs have become critical in helping me become a stronger and more focused strategic planner; it can make a big difference for you as well. This year, try incorporating the three Rs into your year-end planning to create more sustainable and positive outcomes on a personal and business level.


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Raven Solomon


Raven is a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Speaker, Author, & Strategist who helps organizations understand generations, racial equity, and their intersection.

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