work life

Planning for the new year

Did you make any resolutions for 2011?

January’s almost over… How are you doing with those?

Several years ago, I realized a truth about myself: I can not keep resolutions.

Sweeping statements (I will lose weight! I will re-read all the classics! I will clean out my closets!) are the stuff of resolutions. Unfortunately, unspecific ideals aren’t achievable. At least not for me, and I’d wager not for the majority of us.

Why?

Because we’re human!

“I will lose weight” becomes “I’ll work out tomorrow,” which becomes “This weekend I will cook healthy food,” which becomes “Diet starts Monday.” By the time Monday rolls around, you feel like a failure.

Why set yourself up to feel bad?

Instead of resolutions, I recommend goals. These goals must be specific, bite-sized chunks that you can cross off your list (preferably with a flourish). Instead of “I will re-read the classics,” try “I will re-read Great Expectations in January and Moby Dick in February.” Plan all the books you want to read for the year, and cross each one off as you complete it. This type of goal-setting sets you up for success; you’ll feel so accomplished each time you cross a book off your list!

But the big question: What does any of this have to do with writing or running a small business?

To set achievable goals – and you do set goals, right? – the same principle applies. Instead of “I will get more clients and increase revenue,” set really specific goals like “I will meet one new potential client each month by attending a weekly networking breakfast.” Then break that goal into its individual steps: I will send a “nice to meet you” email to the new contact the very next day; I will send an industry-related news article the following week; I will invite her out to coffee at the end of the month. Or whatever fits your biz.

The idea is to break a big goal down into tiny steps. The act of crossing off each step not only will propel you forward, but what’s better than feeling like you’ve accomplished your goals?