Workable New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions – we’ve all made them, and we have all broken them − often before the end of January. That’s right – we don’t even last a month with our new found goals and enthusiasm. There’s something about New Year celebrations that makes us yearn for a fresh start, but is there a way to make that desire for change more permanent?
Here’s a twist that can make your New Year’s Resolutions more durable, more beneficial and less prone to that embarrassing quick fade.
1. Align personal goals to your business
This can deliver more benefits than you might have anticipated. For example, suppose your goal is to take a month’s holiday in September 2018 – perhaps the first real holiday you’ve had in years.
If you book your tickets in advance, your goal has a fixed deadline and you will need to have the business ready by then to operate without you. So what do you need to do? You might decide the critical steps are:
- Start delegating more tasks to employees – I know this can be overwhelming, but if you don’t want to be attached to your laptop the whole holiday, start early with delegation.
- Create a procedures manual so everyone can follow clearly defined processes on all business tasks.
- Monitor the key drivers in your business (key performance indicators) so senior staff can quickly take action on any slippage from defined parameters, such as a dip in the gross profit margin.
Notice how aligning your personal goal of a holiday with business goals provides both purpose and motivation to empower your original resolution. Your goal was simply to take a real holiday this year, but achieving the goal will deliver extra personal and business benefits.
2. Be SMART (and not a smart arse)
When it comes to setting the actual goals for your resolution, use the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). It’s a timeless oldie but scarily how many forget about the steps when setting their New Years Resolutions.
- Specific: Be precise about what you want to achieve, because vague or abstract goals such as “I’ll get fitter this year” are destined to fail.
- Measurable: Adding facts, figures or percentages to your goals allows you to track your progress. What is measurable tends to get done.
- Agreed Upon: The goals need buy in from those involved. If this is just yourself, then you need to agree to commit the time and effort required.
- Realistic: Your goals need an element of challenge in them, taking you out of your comfort zone, but they should also be attainable. Lofty goals are usually the first to be discarded.
- Time-bound: Deadlines are how we get things done.
“Saying you will go on a holiday, well sure it can be a goal. But how much better (and easier) does it sound if you were to say, By September 2018 I will spend a week in Fiji away from my business and without my laptop by delegating one new task a week to my employee Christine so she can confidently hold the fort”.
3. Keep it Simple
Break goals down into simple, smaller steps. Far less overwhelming than thinking you have to complete the entire goal in one foul swoop.
For example, to complete your operations manual by the time you leave, you may be aiming to complete one section a month for each process in your business, such as customer service, shipping, order follow-up, credit management or inventory control.
Break this down further into smaller steps of what needs to be done this week, and this fortnight.
4. Make it User Friendly and Visually Appealing
Firstly – write it down. Goals which are written AND visible are proven to be achieved on a far greater scale than something you think about but leave it sitting in your head.
Creating some kind of graphic for each goal, such as a chart, a calendar or graph, allows you to see progress. It also makes it far less boring, with the aim that each time you look at a checklist for your upcoming holiday of Fiji for example, and staring back at you on the checklist is a picture of a swimming pool, palm trees and a cocktail, suddenly your brain remembers why you are doing it. And the motivation and Adrenalin kicks in. You can envisage the finish line, and boy oh boy are you damn sure you will get there.
New Year’s Resolutions are notorious for ending in failure, misery and the feeling of “why do I bother”. Instead keep it simple. Don’t chose goals that you know are completely unrealistic (either in scale or time frame), and choose a way that works for you to stay motivated along the way. It won’t happen overnight, but overnight success is just a figment of your imagination anyway.