This month, I want to introduce you to a program that I recently learned about, The Best Year Yet (BYY). The BYY program is an extremely simple model or system that helps you set personal goals, tracks your progress toward achieving those goals and helps you produce the results you want. While many goal-setting programs in the marketplace purport to do these things, for various reasons many do not. Although, I am a new adopter of the BYY program, I can already see how it can benefit MBA students and MBA alumni. Let me explain by introducing you to BYY, discussing why I think MBAs will benefit from its use and what I like about BYY.
Jinny Ditzler presents the Best Year Yet system in her book, Your Best Year Yet. First published in 1994, the book is now in its 20th printing and has been translated into 14 languages. The genesis of the book and the system actually started in 1980, when she individually started setting personal goals and making plans to achieve those goals. Ms. Ditzler shared her experience and process with friends and received positive and constructive feedback, which she used to modify her method. She then started offering workshops, where she taught the system and helped participants develop their own plans. She used her workshop materials and experiences, plus feedback from participants, to write the book.
The volume is a standalone guide for those who prefer to learn to use the system on their own. For others, there are workshops, online tools, and personal coaches to help you learn the system and develop a BYY plan. I found the book sufficient for developing my plan. The only caveat is she suggests that you can develop a plan in as little as a single three-hour session. I think the time required depends on how much reflection and introspection you do, which means the more you do, the longer it will take.
Benefits of BYY
More often than not, our daily-living activities or the pressures of work, school, and family prevent us from focusing on what is important in our lives. We need a tactical plan that helps us stay focused and moving along our desired path toward achieving the goals we set for ourselves. Additionally, a tactical plan helps minimize the effects of disruptions and surprises in life and keeps us focused on our own success and sense of purpose. BYY’s approach to planning and accountability provides such a tactical plan.
Specifically for MBA students, a BYY plan can help:
- Maintain focus – It is very easy for MBA students to get into the routine of being a student and ignore the longer-term goals they set for themselves. A BYY plan can help them maintain their focus on their longer-term goals, as well as what needs doing on a daily basis.
- Prepare for change – Adding an MBA program to an already busy life usually means something will have to change at home, at work or in some other area of life. While the changes may be necessary, they can have a negative effect on work-life balance and overall wellbeing. Developing a BYY plan can help with the proactive management of the changes and minimize their negative effects.
- Enhance individual performance – The prioritization of work on a daily or weekly basis can enhance individual performance in an MBA program, which, then, can be a differentiator. BYY plans address work prioritization.
- Emphasize learning – Students enrolled in an MBA program sometimes forget that they are there to learn. A class assignment done at the last minute tends to be a task to complete and not something from which to learn. However, BYY plans can link assignments and learning, which makes an assignment more meaningful and less of a task to simply complete.
- Manage daily living – Necessary daily living routines and activities can consume a large number of waking hours. Proactively managing these activities—rather than merely reacting to them or other life events—can result in fewer hours consumed. A well-prepared BYY plan can help manage daily living actions more effectively and efficiently.
- Shift the focus – Periodically, there is a need to shift focus, for example, from preprogram acceptance activities to undertakings that focus on enrollment preparation. Because the BYY plan covers the next 12 months, shifting focus after accomplishing one goal to pursuing another goal is nearly automatic.
What I like about BYY
After reading Ditzler’s book and creating my first BYY plan, I can see that there are differences in the BYY program vs. other goal-setting programs. Here are some of the things that I like about the BYY approach:
- A simple do-it-yourself, ten-step process that is easy to follow. Each step involves answering a question, which causes you to reflect with purpose and to focus on the tactical aspects of your life.
- You only concern yourself with the past 12 months and the next 12 months of your life. This timeframe is similar to the planning horizon businesses use, which helps you stay focused on immediate or short-tern goals and progress toward achieving those goals.
- You start by identifying your past 12-months’ accomplishments. Most of us have a tendency to play down our achievements and focus on our shortcomings or failures. Beginning with accomplishments is positive and reinforcing.
- You end up with a one-page, 12-month plan and suggestions for tracking your progress. This means you have a simple way to hold yourself accountable on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- There is an emphasis on personal learning. Reviewing the past 12 months gives you the opportunity to learn from mistakes and successes. You use what you learn from the past 12 months to help create the plan for the next 12-months.
Many MBA students do not engage in personal planning, which addresses the tactics needed to achieve their long-term goals. The BYY approach to planning concentrates on both goal setting and the process or actions for achieving the goals— which means the tactics. I believe the BYY approach can help MBA students make their next year their best year yet.
How do you plan? Do you have a plan? Should MBA students develop a tactical plan before starting their program? Please share your answers and related thoughts by adding a comment below.
About the Author: Dr. Rodney Alsup is the creator of the MyeEMBA blog. His goal is to help MBA students live and work smarter while they earn their MBA.
Image courtesy of Best Year Yet