Through the years, you've been programmed to think of each new year as a new beginning -- both personally and professionally. It's a chance to quit a bad habit, run a marathon, or change your career, but the problem is that most people pick their goals out of thin air without a clear plan to achieve them. As a result, most New Year's resolutions go unresolved.
They've become almost synonymous with failure. Naturally, you start to approach them with a sense of cynicism and doom yourself by setting unachievable goals. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn't be that way, especially when you're setting business goals. If you're operating your business without a plan, you probably won't end up where you want to go.
Luckily, you can break the cycle. You just have to reframe how you look at New Year's resolutions.
Envision the Outcome First
To actually achieve your New Year's resolutions, you need to envision an outcome. By doing so, you become aware of the difference between what you want and what you currently have. This disparity is your gauntlet; with ideal outcomes clear in your mind, you can set a range of achievable goals that will provide you with a plan for success, including:
• Business goals. Your business goals are numerous and will likely change throughout the course of the year, but taking the time to outline just a few clear and measurable outcomes for your revenue now will guide you during those coffee-fueled late-night moments.
• Balance goals. Your business goals only tell part of the story. Match each business goal with one that focuses on relaxation, fun, or family. Take one more week of vacation this year, get more sleep, or beat your son at Mario Kart just once.
• Health and fitness goals. Goals that reward healthy living impact all your other goals. Spend time adding a new activity to your exercise schedule or getting into a new sport. You'll find that your pursuit of your business goals and personal goals is reinvigorated.
• Goals that build on previous goals. My company was overjoyed to find out that we had doubled our revenue in 2014, so we look forward to setting the same target this year. Building on this goal, rather than letting ourselves rest on our laurels, fuels us to keep pushing boundaries.
• Checkpoint goals. It's important to be able to measure how close you are to achieving your targets. While "be a better person" is an admirable ambition, it's difficult to objectively judge your success at the end of the year. Form quantifiable goals so you can have the pleasure of confidently ticking them off your list.
Build a Successful Year
By thinking about your New Year's resolutions in a new way -- focusing on outcomes and balancing your goals -- you're well on your way to becoming a world-class resolution maker. But you still have to achieve those goals. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Ask the big questions. Instead of simply focusing on growing your revenue or losing weight, try to remember why you're setting these goals in the first place. Why do you want to achieve this? Where do you want to be in a year's time?
2. Break your goals down. Part of the reason why people don't hit their New Year's resolutions is that they look too far ahead. A lot can change in a year, so break down your annual goals into smaller chunks, such as monthly revenue checkpoints or weekly fitness goals. This is a simple way to stay motivated.
3. Make them realistic. Hitting the gym seven days a week will certainly help you lose those extra pounds, but will you really do it, even when you're sick or working overtime? The same can be said for your business. Creating milestones is much more motivating. And once you start succeeding, you'll build momentum, so make your goals achievable.
4. Go public. You'd love to rely on your inner resources when it comes to achieving your dreams, but the fact is that when you feel publicly accountable, you're more likely to succeed. Publish your resolutions on Facebook or set up a board in the office for everyone to write down their company goals and motivate each other.
When I was at my heaviest weight, I needed something else to push me. When I posted my goal to achieve an ideal weight of 175 pounds on Facebook, I could feel my team rooting for me. Soon, I was more dedicated than ever before.
5. Write a letter to yourself. Write a letter that's dated Jan. 1, 2016, as if you've already achieved all of your 2015 goals. "Hey, man," you might start. "What a year! I am so proud of what you did. Your goal was to double your business's revenue in 2015, and you did it!" Read your letter every morning, and allow yourself to visualize these successes.
The thing about goals is that if you set them and don't refer back to them, you're going to forget about them. But by focusing on this positive image and forgetting about all those poor New Year's resolutions that never saw the light of February, you can become a master goal setter and a master goal getter.
Nick Unsworth is CEO of Life On Fire, a business coaching company that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders become the rock stars they are meant to be. Nick has been an entrepreneur for 11 years and was inspired to live his best life after watching those close to him struggle for money throughout his childhood. Nick has worked in several industries and bounced back from many setbacks, which inspired him to help other entrepreneurs make every day a journey worth living.