At the beginning of each year many people commit to worthy-sounding resolutions. Others have given up on this practice since they tend to disappoint themselves by Jan. 31.
New Year’s resolutions seem to have a mixed reputation, as evidenced by the crowded gym parking lots in January that quickly empty by the end of the month.
Many business owners and managers have a business plan they dust off each January. An effective business plan focuses everyone’s attention toward this year’s key strategic priorities. Here are several suggestions to increase the probability that your business resolutions will stick.
Turn Resolutions into Declarations
Resolving to do something is an intent that you can be easily distracted from. A declaration is a commitment—a promise.
Speak in the present tense as if your creation is already a reality. Act as if it is impossible to fail.
Make your Declaration Specific
An expressed intention will probably fail to materialize. What are you bringing into existence? By what date? On behalf of what bigger goal?
On a personal level, a commitment to health creates a stronger impetus for action than a desire for weight loss. With weight loss, as we move closer to our optimum weight, we reduce the impetus for action and the intensity of our commitment.
In business, focusing on what we don’t want without a contrasting, positive vision is a fatal mistake.
A larger commitment to overall health gives a weight-loss goal its power. Moving toward health creates momentum, while trying to rid ourselves of excess weight lends itself to binges of action.
In business, focusing on what we don’t want without a contrasting, positive vision is a fatal mistake. Vague platitudes and cookie-cutter “vision” statements are counter-productive and open to skeptical responses from others.
Declare your actual business outcome in visual language that others can picture, and set a specific date for accomplishment.
Don’t wish and hope you will get there someday, maybe. Establish your celebration day and take actions to move toward what you are creating.
Set Overall Theme, Create Sub-Goals
Establish an overall purpose or theme for this year’s business focus, and then create sub-goals to move you forward.
Make your purpose clear and specific. “To be the best” might sound like a lofty goal, but it creates little, if any, impetus for action. Instead, paint a word picture of your actual end result.
Narrow your Focus
As you decide where you want to be in the market, differentiate yourself from the masses. What makes you distinct?
Establish your celebration day and take actions to move toward what you are creating.
This probably means narrowing your focus. In today’s crowded business climate, one size cannot fit all. It is important to say “no” to certain market segments. Choose your hill and take it. Staying in the middle of the road will get you run over.
Commit to a Deadline
A declaration is the first of a series of steps to creating your desired future. Resolutions to be achieved “as soon as possible,” are doomed to fail. Commit to a deadline.
In today’s business climate staying the same is not an option. If change is required, make the desired outcome the focus, not the changes required.
Deadlines also define when failure occurs. (I know this sounds negative, but sometimes stating it this way produces a better result.)
Plan, Act, Evaluate, Adjust
The most common business mistake we see in our work with organizations is over-planning.
Choose your hill and take it. Staying in the middle of the road will get you run over.
Many of us plan, plan, and plan some more in an attempt to perfect our plans. However, until you implement your first action step, most planned actions are speculative guesses at best.
Write a sketch of your plan, keeping the outcomes in mind in contrast to current reality. Sketch in obvious action steps that jump out at you and immediately take action on step one. Evaluate the results of your action, and then make any adjustments required as you move forward.
Using this approach, your action steps are distinctly different from those you speculated about in the early stages. What is required at each stage is a clear picture of the contrast between the future and the present.
Don’t overwhelm yourself or others; keep focused on what is really important to your business and concentrate on moving toward your desired outcome.
Successful people are the few who focus in and follow through!
In Part 2, we’ll take a deeper dive into making the new year as productive as possible and avoid ways we can inadvertently sabotage ourselves.
Dave Mather is a Performance Improvement Specialist at Dale Carnegie Business Group in Toronto. His columns can be read at ept.ms/dave-mather
Find Dave on LinkedIn.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 20 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.