As an entrepreneur, you probably have a lot of experience with planning: business plans, quarterly plans, marketing plans. I hate to break it to you, but it’s time for another kind of planning: New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions for your business are vital to crafting your vision for where you want to be this time next year. And deciding where you want to be in December 2015 is a lot easier to do now than it is to do in, say, August, when you’re getting ready for that Q4 crunch.
Most people wait until January 1—or December 31 if they’re really thinking ahead – to devise their resolutions. But one could make the argument that entrepreneurs aren’t like “most people,” in that they have to work harder to maintain their willpower, determination, and enthusiasm on a day-to-day basis. And goal-setting for 2015 means it’s your year to step into the bigger vision you have for yourself and your business, however you define that vision.
So don’t wait until January 1—the time is now, carpe diem and all that. Get resolvin’! And as you do, keep in mind the four main qualities that will give your resolutions the punch you need to see them through.
You have to know what you want to accomplish before you go out and do it, and that means having a clear vision and the ability to articulate exactly what success looks like. Here are the questions you should ask yourself – and answer – to ensure you’ve clearly defined your goals:
What does success feel like?
What does success look like?
What freedoms will I have by achieving this goal that I don’t have now?
What does achieving this goal mean to me?
Why is achieving this goal important to me?
What do I need to do to achieve this goal?
You’ll probably find it helpful to write these answers down and put them where you can see them. Reminding yourself of your goals is crucial to actually achieving them.
It’s pretty easy to let designated planning time get interrupted or fall by the wayside, but taking the time to work on your business instead of in your business is critical to creating space to succeed personally and professionally.
I probably don’t need to sell you much more on the benefits of planning, but if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, a good planning session might just cure that ailment.
As you’re masterminding your plan, ask yourself the following questions:
What is the path to achieving my success?
Is this going to move me closer to success?
What do I need to do to achieve my desired level of success?
What are the areas in which I’ll need help achieving success?
What short-term sacrifices will I have to make to achieve success?
How will I know when I’m successful?
What benchmarks can I set to measure my success?
Distraction is perhaps our biggest struggle in the modern world of Netflix, Angry Birds, and Xbox. Maybe screens aren’t your downfall, but surely there’s something to which you give your attention that doesn’t advance your personal and professional goals.
That doesn’t mean you should never have down time—you should always schedule time to do something that relaxes you and makes you happy. But if you’re losing hours on something you know is frivolous, it might be time to change your habits to help you maintain focus when you need it.
So when you’re developing your resolutions, ruthlessly eliminate plans or steps that won’t advance you and your small business. Even if it’s a brilliant idea, if it isn’t relevant to your goal, it will ultimately be a waste of time.
Being an entrepreneur can put you in a precarious position with personal relationships, as your focus and dedication can mean working 70-hour weeks every week and neglecting your friends and family.
Friends, this is a recipe for burnout, and it’s guaranteed that recovering from burnout will take you longer than it would if you just put the phone away and had a nice family dinner or went out with your friends.
Losing connection with who you are and those you love can sidetrack your business just as much as losing focus can. Working harder does not equal working smarter; in fact, people who work fewer hours actually get more done. Don’t get consumed by your business. While crafting your resolutions, take time to get back to the roots of your passion, reconnect with those you love and steer your business in the positive direction that you define.
If you want to make 2015 your best year yet, now is your chance. Carpe diem and all that.