OUR WreathCHRISTMAS SEASON is now drawing to a close:  Today is the twelfth day, and tomorrow is Epiphany!

It’s a time for renewal, in many ways.

The craziness of the secular holiday season is behind us.  Even if you just celebrate it as a time to be with family, it can be nuts.  Then with gift-giving and religious celebrations, it’s the busiest time of the year.

For those of you in retail businesses, it’s likely that you haven’t been able to breathe for a couple of months now.  And there’s many other industries which are connected to the end-of-year rush.

But now we’re moving beyond that.

The fact that this is now a new calendar year helps to provide a fresh focus.  For many of us, it’s also a new fiscal year, and we also take advantage of this time to look at our long-term plans.  Certainly it’s something I’m doing with each of my clients.

Here’s the big question:  How do I want to have things be different in 2014 than they were in 2013?

This is an important way to look at it, for several reasons.

First, this is focused on the future more than the past.  What happened in 2013 and before gives us limits and opportunities, but it can’t be changed at this point.  So the point is to look at what we want to do in 2014 and beyond.

Second, this is about change.  By nature, we tend to continue on the present course, and making a change takes effort.  And in fact, we probably don’t want to change everything – we want to continue some things and change others.  The point is to do it with forethought and intention.

Third, you’re thinking about your intentions.  You might spend the entire 2014 just responding to whatever happens in the world, but chances are you’re not going to be satisfied with the outcome.  The market can be pretty brutal, and doesn’t really care about those deep values you’ve wanted for your business.

Fourth, this question pushes you toward defining outcomes.  Even an internal shift (“I want to have more sanity in my life”) can be an important outcome, but this Big Question will prompt you to do things which create tangible, observable, and lasting improvements.

So: How do you want things things to be different in 2014 than they were in 2013?