Before we make those grand plans for 2016, take a moment to consider this: how much of what you want for next year is based on what you didn’t get this year?
If your goals for 2016 are completing something you began in 2015, there might be a very good reason why you didn’t get it done this year. Was it a lack of time? Perhaps unrealistic expectations? Unreliable partners who let you down? Maybe a poor balance between personal and professional priorities?
Whatever the reasons are, wouldn’t it be great to know you’re going into the new year without making the same errors again? Not only that, how about making plans for 2016 without the baggage of the things, people, finance problem, etc. that held you back in the past twelve months?
Walking away from 2015 takes more than simply leaving the past behind and hoping it fades into the background. It usually doesn’t. We come across the same challenges, bump into the same people or have to deal with the same financial deficits. We suggests some practical ways of moving forward while locking the past in the past.
As tough as this might sound, let the past go. In other words, draw a line under it. We use the ending of a film as an analogy here. Some films have a happy ending, others don’t. Some things in your 2015 had a happy ending, others didn’t. Let the credits roll and move on. Say to yourself “That was a bad situation. I lost X, I trusted Y, I spent X and it didn’t work out.” That’s the end of the story. No comebacks and no sequels.
I did say it was tough. Everything is a lesson, or at least it is when you ask yourself “What could I have done differently?” Sometimes it’s obvious that you missed something. Faced with the same situation again you would definitely do something else. Accept that as the lesson. You may also learn that the situation was out of your control. Nothing you could have done or said would have changed the outcome. Accept that too. Now take stock and eject that movie.
In some cases, a business deal or relationship might be on-going. This is the perfect time of year to put some boundaries or formality around it. Perhaps someone has offered to help you with promotions for a reciprocal service. Did you receive the support for your product or service you expected?
Whether you did or not, this is a great stage to say “let’s do more of what’s been working” or “let’s reconsider how we can work together better”. You should have numbers or anecdotal evidence to back up your conversation. Does one unit of your service have the same value to your partner? Have you been doing all the work while they have only showed up at the end?
It is worth taking time out to talk it through with them to get everything straightened out. You’re potentially going to invest another 365 days of your time, resource and effort with them; putting aside a day to work it all out properly leaves you with 364 days of a great partnership.
Lethal B said it best, “Leeeave it, yeah!” Seriously. Some things are literally best left in the past. That means all of it. That thing, the deal, the person, the company, the hurt, the tears… all of it. You have sat down and considered what went wrong, or could have been done differently. You’ve decided it is not profitable to take forward into 2016. Now leave it. You can’t take everything or everyone forward with you.
The more you are already carrying, the less you can pick up in the new year – new opportunities, new ideas, new collaborators. It is never easy to start a new partnership in 2016 when things are left ambiguous with a former colleague. It just gets awkward. It is better to go it alone, with fewer resources, fewer contacts… especially as those haven’t helped you in the past year. Be professional, tie up the loose ends and leave it as amicably as possible. Remember this is about winning with a lesson, not looking for payback. If there is good will, you might even work together again in future, so be completely transparent and respectful.
What about the money?
What have you actually lost in real terms? There are certain things you can’t claim back: time, emotional or physical investment, hurt, ideas. You can’t get them back. Money is a different matter. It does two things in our opinion. Firstly there might be amounts owed to you based on receipts, invoices and contracts. If you have these, you can pursue your expenses for services and goods you might have outstanding; legally if you have to.
However if you don’t have any of this to support your claim, there is a second purpose for money. Value. You may find that the real value of the disappointment you are holding on to, when you weigh it up against your loss, is out of proportion. There’s no need to lose sleep over £200 when your future business is worth a lot more. The way I think about it, there are business courses which would cost ten times as much. If you’ve learned a lesson and know how not to repeat it, then it’s money well spent. Cut your losses. Yes, that phrase has meaning. Cut your losses and move on.
Whatever you have planned for 2016, I wish you well and pray that it is not at the cost of lessons learned from 2015. Here’s to a successful year ahead.