New Year, new you. Right?
Each New Year brings the excitement of a fresh start. We promise to eat healthier, exercise more, and finally quit smoking. In business, we declare to delegate more, stay on top of financials, and be more strategic in sales, marketing, hiring, and, well, just about everything.
If you’re lucky, these resolutions may last until summertime, when you decide half a year ain’t bad and you can try, try again next year. If you’re really lucky (and a unicorn), you’re in the 8 percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution – Congrats!
But if you’re like the rest of us mere mortals, you bail on your resolutions by Valentine’s Day when 6 weeks of trying to break old habits with an all-or-nothing mentality becomes too much to carry on.
If you want to fail (again) at your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions, here’s how:
- Make them absolute.
You will never skip another meal. You will make a business plan each and every week. You will always schedule “me” time for better work/life balance.
Dealing in absolutes sets you up for immediate failure. Absolutes are not realistic, but are the perfect recipe for disappointment. Regardless of how amped you are to “make this your best year yet,” life happens, so you have to be flexible and forgiving. Sometimes, hurdles will prevent you from achieving your goals for a few days (or weeks or months), but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether. Cut yourself some slack and make a plan to get back on track.
- Don’t set a measureable goal.
You can’t make a plan without a goal. And you can’t determine your progress with a vague one
Create tangible goals for which you can actually measure success. Instead of “I’m going to lose some weight this year,” or “I’m going to grow my sales team,” try “I will lose 50 pounds by December,” or “I will hire 6 new Inside Sales Representatives by Q4.”
- Always focus on the outcome, never the process to achieve it.
Losing 50 pounds is tough. Hiring (and retaining) 6 new employees is hard too. The best way to feel entirely demoralized and disheartened is to set these big goals and focus only on the result.
Instead, break these big goals into small, achievable components, like starting a food journal or A/B testing job postings to attract better candidates. And celebrate small wins – You lost 5 pounds! You hired 2 new sales reps! Hooray!
By creating a road map for success and rewarding yourself for small achievements along the way, you will be more likely to stick with your resolution when the going gets tough and will likely become even more motivated as you start seeing results.
- Never write things done.
It’s well known that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. And people who make to-do lists are more likely to actually complete its items, even if just for the satisfaction of ticking things off.
Sit down and write out your goals, road map, and benchmarks. Keep it somewhere you can refer to it later for guidance and motivation.
- Never analyze or readjust your plan or goal.
Do you launch a new marketing initiative and say, “Okay, my work here is done! Now bring me my leads!” No. You launch your campaign, carefully monitor its success, and optimize accordingly for best results.
The same goes for your New Year’s resolutions – Always monitor your success (and failures), keeping what works and ditching what doesn’t. Readjust as needed to make true behavior changes that will last you all year and beyond (imagine that!).
- Understand you are a failure if you do not achieve your goals.
If you go into your New Year resolution expecting failure, 9 times out of 10, that’s what you’ll get. Whether your negative attitude impedes your success or your fear of failure leads you to abandon your goals early on, you probably won’t be celebrating your achievements come next December.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you will fail. These failures may be small (you missed your weekly planning meeting because you double-booked) and sometimes they may be big (you had to close your business). But – at the risk of sounding participation ribbon-y – the important thing is that you set yourself up for success and try your hardest to get there.
Bottom line: You create New Year resolutions to improve some aspect of your life or business. Don’t let these goals be a source of shaming or stress. Make resolutions that are attainable and celebrate your efforts along the way. If your resolutions may do more harm than good this year, resolve to make no resolutions at all – and find other ways to kill it in 2016.
Happy New Year!