It’s that time of year – everyone and their brother has a sure fire way for you to lose those last 20 pounds, get organized or attract the man of your dreams. While I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, this is a natural time of year for considering a few dreams you’d like to see come true in the coming 12 months.

The only problem is that dreams will stay just that – dreams – unless you develop a plan and some action steps to get you to that destination. It’s kind of like planning a trip.

If you’re planning a trip, you need to know 3 things – your starting place, your destination, and how you’re going to get from point A to point B. But as circumstances have often shown us, very rarely does life travel along the shortest distance between two points. Often there are detours, washed out bridges, and potholes to contend with. Sometimes we take the scenic route, and sometimes the tolls are a lot higher than we expected. This is where Google Maps comes in.

When you plan a trip with Google Maps, you’re offered a few different routes: shortest mileage, no tolls, quickest trip. When you’re planning your business goals for 2016, it pays to think along the same lines. Figure out where you’re starting, where you want to go, and then think about a few different ways to get there.

The first thing to do is to determine your starting point. Taking a detailed inventory of your business activities for 2015 should give you a pretty clear picture of where you’re making a profit and where things need a bit of tweaking. When you take your inventory, consider physical and mental expenditures as well. If you have one income stream that’s mediocre and you really love it, try thinking of ways to boost the income a bit – or just be glad that it’s bringing in some intangibles as well as a small profit.

On the other hand, if there’s a part of your business you just can’t stand – try to find a way to delegate it or even eliminate it altogether. Yes, you need to pay the bills, but one of the points of being self-employed is that you should enjoy at least most of what you do.

Once you’ve established your starting point, your next step is determining where you’re headed. What are your goals for 2016 – and while we’re at it, what are your mid-term and long-term goals? By being pretty specific about what you want to accomplish over the next 1, 3, 5 and 10 years, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to do to achieve those milestones.

Are you looking to add a lesson program to your boarding barn? Hire a trainer, or switch from a regular boarding barn to full training board only?

Just like the route options on Google Maps, one route may be quicker, but have high tolls, while another may be the shortest distance mileage wise but take much longer. Think of these as shortest distance being easiest to implement and longest distance involving more work. The toll roads require investment – but may get you to your destination the fastest.

And remember that, just like Google Maps, your journey to your destination may hit a detour. If you miss your turn, don’t be afraid to make a legal U-turn at the next intersection, or figure that it’s time to do a little re-routing.

With careful planning and some flexibility, at the end of the year, you’ll be able to say that you’ve arrived at your destination!