It’s a familiar story.
The new year begins with almost unlimited optimism. No goal is too farfetched, and no transformation is too drastic. No success is out of reach. It almost seems like you could accomplish anything this year . . .
And then comes January 2nd.
How quickly things change. The exciting new goals fall away, and the quick slide back into old habits begins. By February, all is forgotten, and the year winds up just like the one before it.
This year is going to be different!
Follow these basic steps, and you can make 2014 a year to remember for your small business.
Step 1: Buy-in
Adopting a goal without truly believing you can accomplish it is pretty much pointless. Part of this will be adopting challenging, but realistic, goals. But once you’ve adopted them, you need to buy into the fact that you are going to do this. You can’t commit halfway, and you can’t approach it miserably. You need to get excited about what you’re going to do and commit to making it happen.
Step 2: Set measurable goals with deadlines
A general goal is usually too vague to allow for accountability. For example, “Make my business successful” is not measurable in time or magnitude, while “Book $X in sales in the first quarter” is.
When you decide how to define your goals, make sure that they are measurable and have a time limit. This will help you take clear, effective steps to achieve them.
Step 3: Break goals down and schedule tasks
Goals need to be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. And this is a critical part of the process, so don’t breeze through it. If you want to increase business apps sales, for example, you’ll need to spend time researching methods and deciding how to allocate your resources most effectively.
But once you’ve decided on some methods, break them down into steps and schedule them. Literally, on your calendar. Do it. Those are now rocking solid appointments that you can’t miss.
Your future depends on it.
Step 4: Execute as scheduled
Do what you are supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it. That’s it. Don’t give yourself a pass. Don’t leave it for another time. Just simply soldier on. It couldn’t be easier than that.
Step 5: Evaluate
Okay, you’ve done what you were supposed to do – how is it working? If it’s going well, great! Keep it up. If not, re-evaluate and choose new actions. Then schedule them. It’s time to execute a new plan.
As you execute the new plan, evaluate that one as well. Keep repeating this process until you are making progress to your goal. Don’t give up!
Step 6: Reward yourself
If you hit your targets or make a lot of progress toward them – nice work! – don’t forget to reward yourself. Life isn’t a death march and you need to make sure that you pat yourself on the back when you succeed. Soon enough it will be time to repeat the process again with new goals and continue progressing onward and upward.
For now, however, take a breath and relax. You’ve adopted a goal and reached it, and most people never manage to do that.