Strategic Human Capital Insights

Part 2: 10-Point Guide for Making 2015 Your Best Year Yet

Top View of Boot on the trail with the text Whats Your Next Step?This is a guest blog post from May Busch.  May Busch, former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe, brings a fresh perspective to helping people and organizations lead positive change.  Learn more at

Welcome to Part 2 of the 10-Point Guide I’ve developed to help you make 2015 your best year yet.  The Guide is structured in two parts: 

Part 2 - Look Forward: Now it’s time to focus on the year ahead, and build on the takeaways from your “Look Back”.   This is a combination of “dream big” time and getting down to the “nitty gritty” of what you want to make happen for yourself.  Both are valuable and necessary to getting you where you want to be.

  1. What kind of person do you want to be?  Set your intention for who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to show up this year.  It may be exactly the same as for last year, or you may wish to make adjustments to reflect the personal growth you have or would like to experience.

  1. Your growth: Identify the ways in which you want to invest in yourself this year.  In which areas do you wish to learn, grow and explore? 

  • What areas would you like to explore? (e.g., new fields of expertise, a new functional area, go deeper into a specialization, turn a hobby into a side business, etc.)
  • What would you like to learn or read? (e.g., new language, books on a particular subject, keeping current on leadership or management topics, etc.)
  • What experiences would you like to have? (e.g., opportunity to manage a larger team, work abroad, lead an initiative, travel, etc.)

  1. Your relationships: The relationships you build are fundamental to your success.  Some call this your network.  But in its simplest sense, it’s all about the combination of who you know, and who knows you. You will always be building relationships – it’s a dynamic process – and it helps to be intentional about it at the start of the year to identify both gaps and opportunities. Remember that relationship building is an investment that is a two-way street. 

  • People you would like to meet/get to know – Perhaps senior people who you respect and would like to have as mentors, prospective clients, colleagues in other areas of the organization, someone who has inspired you, etc.
  • People you would like to help – Pick out a handful of people you believe in and whom you think you can really help this year.  These may be your senior mentors where you are making it a “two-way street”, talented juniors on your team or in another area where you are “paying it forward”, family members, etc. 
  • People you need help from – Think of who you need onside to grow your business this year, and to help you develop as a professional.

What overlap is there across the three lists?  How could you reach out to these important people?

  1. The Bigger Picture:  It’s helpful to look farther ahead at where you want to be in the medium or longer term and then work back from there. 
  • Answer the question*, “If we were meeting 3 years from now, what needs to have happened to make you feel happy with your progress?” – List out the items.  And feel free to use a longer time horizon if you think beyond 3 years.
  • Use this as the basis for building your plan for 2015

  1. Plan for 2015:  Synthesize your thoughts on the points above to come up with the essential nuggets at a strategic level. Again, less is more – by definition, you can’t “focus” on a long laundry list of items. 

  • What will this year be about? – This is the guidepost you can return to whenever you feel overwhelmed or as though you aren’t on track. Boil it down to just the main themes – I suggest up to 3
  • What do you want to accomplish personally and professionally? – Identify 3-5 specific items for each of the two categories.  This is what you will measure yourself against during and at the end of the year.

  1. Taking action:  This is where you operationalize the Plan for 2015.  Remember, unless you take action, nothing will happen.

  • Quarterly milestones to let you know if you’re on track – Identify 1-2 ways to measure each of the items from your list of “what you want to accomplish”. 
  • Set up your system for making it easier to sticking to the plan – Establish a mechanism that will help you stay on track such as teaming up with a friend you trust to help keep you accountable, using the “gold star” system from Kindergarten to mark successes on the calendar, or making calendar entries for the things you’ve committed to do (I know that if something is scheduled on my calendar, then I’m more likely to do it).  
  • One pager or post-it you look at every day – Create a one-page or even a post-it sized version of your Plan for 2015 that you can post in a place you will see every morning.  Again, this simple step will help you actually do the things you want to do this year.

And now, go forward with clarity, confidence and courage to make 2015 your best year yet!  Be sure to share your inspiration with us (or pose a question) by commenting on a future blog post or on LinkedIn or Facebook, and join the conversation on Twitter.

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Author’s Bio:

May Busch is a former COO for Morgan Stanley Europe, a graduate of Harvard Business School, and a Professor of Practice at W.P. Carey School of Business and Senior Advisor in the Office of the President at Arizona State University.

Following her successful 24-year corporate career, May is now a speaker, advisor and executive coach who works with leaders and their organizations on leadership development, organizational strategy and career success.  

To learn more, visit May’s website  

Topics: Phoenix Strategic Performance

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

Joanne T. Flynn heads up the human capital advisory group, Phoenix Strategic Performance, Inc. Previously, she was a Managing Director with Phoenix Group International and was Vice President / Director of Global Learning and Development at Goldman, Sachs for nine years. Joanne works with organizations as they face global growth and competitive challenges. She works with her clients to be both externally focused and internally responsive. With her unique background, she aligns competitive strategic efforts with related internal organizational leadership challenges. With the benefit of her career-long focus, Joanne contributes the unique insight of aligning strategy to internal organizational structure and process. She focuses on human capital relative to strategic initiatives, accelerated business growth, value creation, and business development. Joanne holds a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, she holds a double degree major in History and German from St. Elizabeth University, as well as certificates from a variety of leading universities and professional training and development organizations. Joanne has recently published her latest book, Accelerating Business Success, The Human Asset Management Strategy.

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