The headlines appear ad nauseum around this time every year.
Lose the Weight! Land Your Dream Job! Have Your Best Year Ever!
But it also goes the opposite direction. In recent years, we’ve seen a number of articles (like this one from U.S. News and World Report) telling us that having New Year’s Resolutions basically sets us up for failure. How’s that for glass half empty?
Here at Ignite Spot, though, we don’t buy into the pessimism surrounding New Year’s resolutions. In fact, we’ve got good reason to believe a new year is, in fact, the perfect time to set your sights on a new goal, especially when it comes to your business.
But there’s one caveat: you can’t change your entire life just because it’s January 1. To be successful with your resolution, you’ve got to hone in on one overarching thing you want to focus on during the year ahead, then use data-backed techniques to work toward it.
Let’s take a closer look at what those techniques are and how to apply them for your entrepreneurial resolutions.
Approach It with Positivity
There’s a lot of sad and downright scary stuff going on in the world right now. We get it. If you’re a cynic, it’s not hard to understand why.
But if you approach goals from a place of negativity (“I want to lose 20 pounds because I hate the way I look in my clothes”) you’re much less likely to achieve them—or make any progress toward them, for that matter.
People who are optimists consistently do better in life than pessimists, whether we’re talking about their health, their emotional well-being or their business.
It’s a concept called "dispositional optimism,” or something you might have more commonly heard described as “the power of positive thinking.” According to scientists, people with dispositional optimism approach the world not just hoping for good things to happen, but expecting them to happen.
Researchers have performed a number of studies on these types of people and found that they’re physically healthier, have lower levels of depression and anxiety, and are more likely to come up with solutions to problems than their more pessimistic-minded peers.
The experts say it’s all due to the way your brain works when you’re an optimist. Rather than focusing on the problem, be it your waistline or your stalled business growth, and optimist has a natural tendency to seek out solutions. They ask, what can I do about this?
If you want successful resolutions, you’ve got to train yourself to search for solutions rather than seeing only problems.
SMART goals are something we’ve talked about before on this blog. In order to be “SMART,” a goal must be five things: S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Attainable, R = Realistic, T = Time Stamped.
As it pertains to New Year’s resolutions, the most important factors here are specific and time stamped.
Remember earlier, when we said you should hone in on one over-arching thing to work toward for the year? This is where you need to get specific.
If it’s more revenue you’re after, you might say “I want to raise revenue from product X by 25%, from $100,000 to $125,000.”
This is a highly specific goal, as opposed to just saying “I want to make more money.”
If you want to branch into a new portion of the market, you might say “I want to grow my company’s child wear line to 20% of our total business, accounting for $200,000 in revenue.”
Again, uber specific.
By creating such a specific goal, it’s easy to break it down into the steps you’ll need to take each month to get you there. Which brings us to the next important factor we mentioned above—time stamped.
Time stamped means there’s a hard and fast deadline to the thing you want to accomplish. In this case, it’d be December 31 of the upcoming year. But it also means you’re going to break down your goal into action-oriented, smaller goals, all of which have a deadline of their own.
We suggest taking your goal and breaking it down into 12 steps—the top 12 things you’ll need to do to get you there. These are your monthly-mini goals, all of which are time-stamped for a certain month of the year.
So, let’s go with the example we touched on above about expanding your children’s wear line. Your 12 goals might look like this:
- Finalize items in line
- Build dedicated section of website
- Build excitement about the line on social media and through email
- Develop marketing materials to support the launch
- Launch the line and deploy marketing materials
- Run Facebook ads targeting new demographic
- Attend trade show in our new niche
- Generate a press story about our new line
- Introduce new merchandise for holiday season
- Plan holiday promotions and sales
- Execute holiday promotions and sales
- Analyze and plan for next year.
Now that you’ve got 12 goals, you can easily go in and assign a deadline to each of them. In some cases, you’ll easily be able to delegate them one-to-one (one goal in January, one in February, and so on).
In others, some of the goals will overlap, i.e. if you work in an industry with peak seasons and slow seasons. Sometimes, these mini-goals will evolve and change through the year as you realize what’s working and what’s not. That’s fine—and encouraged!
When you follow this strategy, your New Year’s resolution is no longer just some abstract thing you’re hoping or wishing will magically happen for your business. Instead, it becomes a concrete goal with an step-by-step action-plan to get you there.
The best part about doing it this way? Let’s say you fall short and instead of hitting 25% revenue growth, you only hit 20%. But that’s 20% more growth than you would have achieved otherwise.
When you use this system, you’ll have achieved so many smaller wins along the way to your large goal that forward progress is inevitable.
So tell us: are you setting any resolutions for the year ahead? We want to hear them! Leave a comment and share them with the class.
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