This was such a popular article last year, we decided to repost it this year. Hopefully you had a great Holiday! Having just returned to the office from a very well rested vacation to St. Lucia, I am taking the week between Christmas and New Years to get caught up, set goals and prepare for a productive 2012!
Anyway, this time of year is very special for me, and I wanted to try and help make it very meaningful for you as well. This is usually a time we reflect on the past year, what we did, didn’t do, achieved, slightly missed, things we did that we did NOT plan on, and overall – sigh & smile at another blessed year gone by.
Have you heard this statistic? Only 8% of New Year Resolutions actually succeed. I heard this once a few years back, and didn’t find it too difficult to believe. Think of how many people you hear talking about their Resolution in February.
Weight loss, quitting smoking, drinking less / not at all, bringing in $100K more the year ahead (if you work in a place where you control your own destiny) are all GREAT ideas. To explain why many Resolutions fall through, allow me to inject a little philosophy… if EVERYONE in the world actually succeeded in achieving their New Year’s Resolution goals, one could assume there’d be an awful lot more focused, happier, successful people out there. However, wouldn’t that just bring down one aspect of why we make Resolutions? Challenging ourselves?
Balancing the Level of Difficulty
I’ve found people will only work towards winning a game– whether that is a board game, a fitness regimen, achieving an income level—when they think they are capable of winning. If the challenge exceeds their capabilities, they feel defeated and stop playing. On the other hand, if people make their goals too easy to win, they get bored with the lack of challenge and walk away.
Between hopelessness and boredom is the sweet spot of an invigorating challenge. How do we make a playable middle ground?
I’m glad you asked, Goldilocks.
First off, New Year’s Resolutions don’t work, because big changes in someone’s life are more than just a decision collectively made on New Year’s Day. Usually, they’ve been WANTING to make the decision for a while. They even began making a plan for how they will put that change into ACTION, and then work to MAINTAIN it throughout the year. It could take days, weeks or even MONTHS before someone is ready to make a change they know they want to make. Chances are the day they reach that level of mental preparedness is not January 1st. This arbitrary date does not consider any of the factors for successfully reaching a goal. THAT is why I’m completely against making “New Year’s Resolutions.” You’ll either drop into being the 92% that fail, or the 8% that succeeded.
A Better Alternative
I like to think there’s a better way by taking a more analytical approach. Become not the 8% that keep their Resolutions, but the 3% that understand how the DESIRE, FOCUS, and CONSISTENCY can lead them to becoming a better family member, professional, and overall person…. and stay that way for not just one year.
I’ll be taking some time off soon, usually about two or three straight days, to reflect, regroup, renew & refresh my goals for 2010, and plan out my 2011. The following is what I will be thinking & doing in MY two days:
Take out the box that contains the PIECE OF PAPER that had your WRITTEN 2011 goals, plans & resolutions on it. Don’t have one? Now you know what you will be doing for 2012.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What goals did I meet or exceed this year? What challenges did I face as I worked to meet these goals?
- What goals did I come close, but didn’t reach this year? Was there anything I could have done to push myself to meet this goal?
- What goals did I not even come close to obtaining? What was so difficult (or boring) about reaching this goal? (Was this goal even as important to me, as I thought it was?)
Write down the most IMPORTANT LESSONS you learned over the past year, no less than 3, and no more than 10. These can be business-oriented, personal lessons, or general life lessons. They can also be observations about yourself you want to point out. Put a few lines in between each point.
Example: “I learned that my personality type makes it very difficult to FOCUS on one specific task at a time. I tend to take on more than I can chew at a time, and get overwhelmed.”
On a NEW piece of paper, write the title “2012” in big letters at the top, and using the lessons & observations you just learned about yourself, WRITE DOWN 5 things you can do in 2011 to IMPROVE your life, keeping in mind the “big 3” (Personal, Business, Spiritual). Do NOT call these “Resolutions”, these are just statements – you will need to legitimize them in the next step.
- “I will keep track of my dollar per hour ratio on my tasks, to help analyze and improve my time I spend in my business.”
- “I will spend more time with my family.” Or, “I will begin doing charity work.”
Important: You will need to convert those above statements into MEASURABLE and QUANTIFIABLE goals in the next step. Do your best to stay away from vague, ambiguous CONCEPTS that cannot be quantified.
On this same piece of paper, write down one or more INDICATIONS of COMMITMENT underneath each one of these statements you wrote above, and assign a REALISTIC GOAL for each.
Example: “I will set aside the hours between 6 & 8PM each day of the week for my family time, with the only exception being 5 networking events per month.”
Here’s where it’s important to break it down into small time chunks – it will make it much less overwhelming.
Important: Don’t use YEAR goals – if you have a YEAR goal in your head, divide it by 52, and now you have a WEEKLY goal. I find WEEKLY goals much easier to work with.
Example: “I will spend 1 month this year focusing entirely on systemizing & organizing by business (this is to assist my dollar per hour ratio).” –> Becomes “I will spend 2 days per month (every second & fourth Friday) reviewing my systems, organizing, and re-prioritizing, in order to be more effective immediately.”
Now, you have your TIME commitments. You will use this and incorporate it into your weekly calendars & planning sessions, EVERY week, for the rest of the year. If you use an electronic calendar, put the reminders in NOW, so you have someone prodding you & holding you accountable to meeting these time commitments (I use Google Calendar). I believe these specific time commitments are even MORE IMPORTANT than your income goals – this is where the CONSISTENCY plays in. Remember, with DESIRE, FOCUS, & CONSISTENCY, comes SUCCESS. By following these time commitments, no matter what your income goals, you WILL find success this year.
5. SET the BAR:
WRITE DOWN your MONETARY & other MEASURABLE GOALS for 2012. This can include dollars & cents, dollars per hour, charity donations, etc. The important part here is to BREAK IT DOWN, as you’ll see in the next step, every one of these goals must also come with WEEKLY ACTION STEPS you must take to work towards achieving the goal. You’ll see more clearly in the next step.
- “I will bring in $200,000 in income this year, through ________________. ” (Ebay Sales? Real Estate Agent Transactions? Financial Product Sales? Edible Arrangements Sales? …hehe… definitely not Edible Arrangements…)
- “I will work on my effectiveness this year, so that when I divide all my hours I’ve worked into my total income, I will be worth at least $150 per hour worked.”
- Remember to break it down again: “I will donate $10,000 of my income this year to charity.”
- –> Becomes, “I will donate $200 / week into an escrow account, which will be used on Jan 15, 2013 to donate to one or more charities of my choosing.”
6. TAKE ACTION & ACHIEVE:
WRITE DOWN your WEEKLY ACTION PLAN to meet these goals.
Example: If you say, “I will make $200,000 this year in income,” you need to have a breakdown of the vehicle that will make this happen, and what needs to be done on a WEEKLY basis to make this happen. Work backwards!
If you know you make a minimum of $5,000 per transaction, and you can average $15K. You also know, in your business (this is an example only), you receive an average 7% marketing response rate, with 3 leads / site visits converting into 1 offer, and 5 offers converting into 1 deal. So… questions to ask:
- How many deals do I need to do, over the year? ($200K / $15K = 13.33 = 14 deals in 2012.)
- How many offers do I need to make, to get this many deals? 14 deals * 5 offers each = 70 offers … OR, 6 per month.
- How many site visits do I need to make? 70 offers * 3 site visits each = 210 per year… OR, 18 per month.
- How many marketing pieces do I have to send out, to get to these deals? 210 leads / 7% Response Rate = 3,000 direct mail pieces
- How many marketing pieces do I need to prepare & send out per week, to meet this goal? 3,000 / 52 = 58 letters per week.
- ACTION PLAN ITEM: I will send out 58 letters per week, consistently.
- ACTION PLAN ITEM: I will need to spend minimum 5 hours per week building this lead database, so I have addresses to send to.
Next step: Once you have all these written out, guess what? You import them into your calendar. So you get countless e-mails and smart phone pop-ups until you do the stuff you said you were going to do.
Is this difficult?
Sure – it takes a lot more time than simply making a “Resolution” and hoping you stick to it. Is it doable? ABSOLUTELY. And if you are in a different profession, you can break down your own targets. (Number of client visits, Number of networking events attended, etc.)
The more years you have under your belt, the easier it becomes. You startto learn more effective ways to run your business (what methods of marketing bring in more leads, how much each lead cost, etc).
For those who want a much more simplified version, and who maybe aren’t at this point yet, I’ve found the template Tim Ferris uses in 4-Hour Workweek is a GREAT place to start. It shows you the basics on setting goals & making action plans. Take a look at it here. It’s a great tool to begin with, but I’ve modified it a bit.
In any event, I violated a HUGE rule in marketing: keep these things short. On such an important topic however, I wanted to really drive home the fact that this PLANNING aspect, is the part that separates YOU and ME, from the 92% of people out there who fail at changing their lives. If the DESIRE is there, then there’s no reason you can’t FOCUS down on what’s important to you, set the action plans in place, and remain CONSISTENT throughout the year.
And who knows? In January of 2013, you may take out that sheet of paper you put in that box (after you’ve imported all the stuff into your calendar), and realize, WOW. I accomplished a tremendous amount, and didn’t even break a sweat.
And now you know Step 7. REPEAT. CONSISTENCY. Have I mentioned that yet?
To all – I wish you a Happy & Healthy 2012. NEVER stay in a comfort zone, ALWAYS push yourself to new limits, continue to learn how to become a time management expert, love the ones you’re close to, treat your body right, and if you want something, PLAN IT, and GET IT DONE. There’s no excuse.
Your Mentor & Colleague,