How was your 2019? Was it what you had hoped and expected? Did you accomplish the goals that you set out to achieve?

It’s always at this time of year we begin to reflect on the previous 12 months and evaluate whether we’re in the position we had planned for or in many cases “hoped” for. It’s not about New Year’s resolutions that tend to fall by the wayside within a few days or weeks after the start of the year, but rather about process and discipline to plan and execute the plan to achieve the desired results.

As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I think it goes beyond planning into execution. Typically, lack of achievement of goals is not because they aren’t established but because they aren’t executed upon. We all have great intentions but following through on what might require a change in behavior, require a little more effort, and/or be difficult to accomplish, we tend to fall short on making it happen. In fact, most goals are never achieved because there is no accountability to execute.

Business owners who are looking to grow their businesses or exit their businesses over the next several years often assume that what they’ve been doing will result in different outcomes. If the business hasn’t grown, or you haven’t moved forward with a plan for exit, not changing your approach or process won’t achieve different results. I believe Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

To take risks, to go outside our comfort zones, to allow others to bring their expertise into our thinking, and to acknowledge we don’t have all the answers, is the biggest step in achieving better outcomes.

To achieve different results, you need to try different approaches.

How many of you have set personal and/or business goals every year and have failed to achieve the goals established? What has been your process for ensuring the results are achieved?

Business owners can be stubborn people and think they can accomplish anything they set out to do without assistance or accountability. In reality, we are all limited by our own thoughts and ideas. Achieving more requires a team, and in many cases, an outside resource.

One of the most limiting factors of being a business owner is that we get locked into the four walls of our business and don’t get outside to challenge our ideas and thoughts or allow for others to hold us accountable for our actions or inactions.

So, here are some things for you to think about and implement to change the outcome.

1. Start the conversation. Whether it be setting a strategic plan and action items that require a process of accountability or taking the next step to plan for the exit and or succession of your business.

2. Engage professional resources that are trained in the areas you are looking to achieve better outcomes. Do they have experience or credentials in the areas of need?

3. Understand the process. Be clear as to the process and how the process will assist you in achieving your goals.

4. Be open to being held accountable. As business owners, we like to be our own boss and not be held accountable by others, yet our ability to be accountable not only improves our results, it creates vulnerability that allows our teams and organizations to grow.

When left to our own devices, we are our own limiting factor. When we open our minds, our circle of advisers and our willingness to learn and grow can help us achieve outcomes that we had never imagined.

To take risks, to go outside our comfort zones, to allow others to bring their expertise into our thinking, and to acknowledge we don’t have all the answers, is the biggest step in achieving better outcomes. Together we are better.

If you haven’t achieved what you wanted to achieve in 2019, I challenge you to change the pattern. Get out of your comfort zone, engage with others to challenge your thinking, pull in other experts to come alongside you as you change your own behaviors and thus your results. Make 2020 the year of results.

Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, certified exit planning adviser, and owner of Journey Consulting LLC.