Looking back on New Year’s past, I’d make the same resolutions over and over again. They were always your typical resolutions; the ones you see topping the lists of many year after year. “Get organized. Lose weight. Exercise more. Make a budget (and stick to it). Finish what you start.”
Eventually, I become disheartened after making the same list yet again. I finally declared I was done with making New Year’s Resolutions as they were bound to end up as just another unfinished to-do list. And can you guess what happened next? I actually did get organized. I actually did lose weight. I do exercise more than I used to (still room for improvement). We made a family budget, and we stick to it (most of the time). And I actually came to realize that promising to always finish what I started was a terrible plan! (More on that later.)
How did I do it, you ask? Was it the simple act of declaring I was over it all that made things happen? Was it by magic? Maybe pure coincidence? The answer is no. No to all of those things. It still took hard work and commitment on my part. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years of trial and error. It took taking baby steps and missteps all along the way. But it was never going to happen as a simple New Year’s Resolution.
You may also be thinking that this sounds great and all, but those are all personal goals. We’re supposed to be talking small business marketing for solopreneurs and startups. How does this matter in business?
The answer lies in the fact that for you, as a small business owner and entrepreneur, is that it is all connected. As entrepreneurs, our businesses and our personal lives are often intertwined. We strive to separate them for a taste of the elusive work-life balance, but it’s hard to run a successful business when your personal life is pure chaos. It’s hard to have a thriving personal life when your business is floundering.
What’s the solution then?
How do we set about conquering that discouraging yearly to-do list? How do we stop the same list for coming up again next year? The important factor is to shatter the thought of anymore New Year’s Resolutions, and instead prioritize your goals. Start by making a Master Dump List of Resolutions Past and Brilliant Ideas Present. Quickly accept the overwhelm and realize you can’t do everything at once. Now choose the top three things that will make the biggest difference in making your life and your work run more smoothly.
Now, you have your top three goals for the year, not resolutions. If it’s too overwhelming to start with three, choose just one. Goals, unlike most resolutions, are not oft-broken promises to ourselves. Yet they are things that we can make a reality if we never give up on ourselves. You must take that goal and break it down into small steps, manageable tasks with actionable steps. The more specific you can be, the better. If it feels too overwhelming, you won’t start. If you can’t track it, you’ll get discouraged and quit. Once you can start checking off the boxes and see the progress you’re making, you’ll feel energized and be motivated to keep going.
Another component to finally accomplishing your goals is to check in and I don’t just mean once a year. If you wait until the end of the year to reflect on how you did on your resolutions, you’ve likely gone astray and forgotten what you even had intended to do. Honestly, I don’t even know what happened in January 2019, that was a whole year ago. March of the past year is still pretty fuzzy. Reflecting on October becomes a little clearer, but memory is a fickle thing. What does that tell us?
We have to maintain focus on what we are working towards often. Check in every quarter, or better yet, check in every month. Start each month with your top one to three goals and write them down! I’m a big advocate for planning out your week (personal and professional) each and every week. If you plan to work toward your goal every week, you stop yourself from ever getting too far off track. It also allows you to re-assess and pivot when things are going right or when things don’t seem to be going your way.
It’s that simple and that hard. How do you get where you want to go? One step at a time, and hopefully, mostly in the right direction.
Are you still going to make New Year’s Resolutions? Let me know what your top three (or one) goals for the year is in the comments below. And please don’t wait for the perfect time to start, because I can promise you this one thing: that day will never come.