Editor’s note: Veteran entrepreneur and investor Donald Thompson is a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire. His columns appear on Wednesday.

RALEIGH – Summer is ending and we’ll soon begin the final quarter of this crazy year. With such a chaotic season behind us, now is the perfect time to reset your goals, flex your mental muscle and start creating steady momentum for 2021. 

2020 has certainly put some obstacles in our paths. You’ve probably had to pivot your strategy a hundred times already this year, and I know how draining those constant changes can be. 

As a month of transition, September offers an opportunity to restart your engine and invest in your own personal and professional growth. Throughout this month, I’ll be sharing my best advice as a personal coach to help you refocus and end this year strong with a clear vision for 2021.

First up, I’ve recorded a five-part podcast series on personal productivity. If you’d like to receive them, use the contact form on my website and write “podcast” in the comments and we’ll email them to you. Consider these episodes my personal gift to you as you prepare for a brighter future. My only ask is that you share them with a friend if you find them useful.

If you can focus on the goal you truly want to accomplish and build a strategy to get there, you can start next year as a winner.

  • Get out of that valley. 

Maybe you’ve recently lost your job, been rejected for a raise or promotion, can’t stand your boss or aren’t getting along with a team member. Maybe you’re facing personal challenges or maybe you know that layoffs are coming. 

No matter what is going on in your life, your past is not your future. Your present is also not your future. It’s going to take hard work to climb out of this valley, so you’d better get started. Once you conquer the obstacles in your way, your win can be a part of how you help others and you can share your personal story of success against the odds.

  • Focus on the goal and write a plan to achieve it. 

How do you get what you want from 2021? The first step is to name your goals with specificity and a concrete strategy. It’s easy to focus when things are going well, but when adversity hits, goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) will keep you focused and moving forward. 

Set some goals that are easily achieved and some that force you to reach farther than you can see. Attach each one to an emotional element. Consider what you want to feel when you achieve that goal and who you want to be proud of you for your success. Read your goals every day and share them with a few trusted friends who will help hold you accountable. 

  • Build your personal brand.

Your personal brand should be a showcase for your knowledge, skills and experience while also reflecting your future interests, goals and aspirations. Think about what you want to learn and achieve, then use social media and others in your circles to expand your professional network. 

LinkedIn is the most powerful resource for authentically promoting yourself and your business, so take the time to curate a profile that speaks to the value of your past and your goals for the future. Consider what you have to offer and what you have to gain as you start to build synergistic relationships in and outside of your industry.

  • Become a stronger thinker.

A strong thinker can focus on the task at hand and quickly switch context while also delivering great work and pushing toward their personal goals. Strong thinking allows for energetic decision-making, and both begin with ample preparation. Admit what you don’t know and ask a lot of questions, especially from people who are smarter than you. 

It takes humility and confidence to work in collaboration, but we always make stronger decisions when we do, so pool your human resources and learn everything you can. If you’re on the other side of the table, bring your best ideas and share them. Working together brings a diversity of expertise and experience to the table.

  • Crush it. 

This year has forced every one of us to build our resilience and repeatedly pivot, but a change in direction does not mean you are surrendering. If your goals are smart and your strategy is sound, you can end the year strong with renewed energy, new mental muscle and great momentum for 2021. 

Use September as a strategy month to define what you want and how you are going to get it. If you need a mentor or help in making a personal connection to meet your goals, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to help.

About the Author

Donald Thompson is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, author, podcaster, public speaker and mentor for Google’s Entrepreneurs Exchange. Sign up to receive our five-part series via the contact form on our website.  

Donald is currently the CEO of Walk West, one of the fastest growing private companies in the US, and co-founder of The Diversity Movement, a technology-enabled diversity, equity and inclusion firm that helps companies integrate DEI into the core of how they do business. To learn more, visit donaldthompson.com.

Other Donald Thompson columns

Donald Thompson: How to be ruthlessly efficient with your time


Donald Thompson: How to reinvent yourself and pivot your career