The New Year is just around the corner. This time of season, it’s natural to reflect back on all the things we accomplished in the year and all the things we’re looking forward to in the next. You see people talking about New Year's resolutions all the time in their personal lives, but what about New Year’s business resolutions? You might decide you want to push your business to new heights in 2020 by setting and attaining new goals. There’s a lot to be said about the kinds of goals you set, the intention behind them, setting yourself up for success, and communicating those goals to your stakeholders. Let’s dive a little deeper into it:
Setting the Right Goals
You can’t attain what doesn’t exist, so the first step in attaining new goals is setting them. You’ve probably heard about SMART goals a thousand times - your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. That’s well and good and the mnemonic has become popular because of its success, but while it tells you what a good goal might look like, it doesn’t tell you what the goal should be.
For that, you have a couple of tools in your pocket: You could certainly engage in some competitive analysis, see what others in your line of business are doing, and find out if you can do it better or differently. You could look at KPIs and find ways of making your business more efficient. You could branch out into a new line of products or services relevant to your work.
Whatever it is you decide to do, make sure it’s something that inspires you. Inspiration increases your sense of well-being, increases your creativity, and quite literally increases your ability to accomplish goals. What’s more, when a leader is inspired by an idea, it’s much easier for them to help their team feel inspired as well (we’ll touch on that more in a later section). Write your goals down, reflect on them, get inspired by them, and make them happen.
Setting the Stage
Now that you’ve decided on what your goals are, it’s time to create an environment in which these goals can flourish. As the proverbial captain steering the ship over choppy waters to Goal Island, these environmental changes must be both externalized and internalized.
When we talk about setting the stage externally, we’re talking about a change that other people can experience. One simple example of this is to deep clean your office right before the new year, carrying the metaphor of starting out the new year fresh to very real heights. There are so many mental health benefits to a clean space it’s almost impossible to list them all. Your focus improves, you’re less stressed, and looking at it practically, it’s a lot easier to find what you need when you need it.
There are a number of other things that can show people that change is in the air. A fresh coat of paint! A new wall banner! New office chairs! When you set the stage externally, you create a reminder of what has inspired you and that can carry you further toward your goals in the new year.
Setting the stage internally can be more difficult but it can also be much more rewarding. The first step in this process is taking an honest look at your behaviours and patterns in the past year. What mental barriers are holding you back? Are there things you are afraid of that you shouldn’t be? Are there toxic people in your life whom you should stop seeing? Are you engaged in stressful activities that aren’t contributing to your well-being? The stress of being a leader is always high because people are looking to you for inspiration and guidance. Getting rid of unnecessary stress can help you look toward new goals with fresher eyes and more energy.
Speaking of unnecessary stress, one of the most important things you can do to create peace of mind is to simplify - simplify your business and life. Give yourself a schedule in which you set time away from the business: no phone calls, no texts, no “I’ll just quickly check my email”. This can be hard because the success of your business is important to you, but you’ll find you’ll have more success if you can put it aside for several hours a day. Work-life balance is key to accomplishing goals and inspiration can often strike at the strangest of times.
Communicate Your Goals
They say no person is an island, and if that’s the case, you can be sure no business is. You have stakeholders who believe in your dream, be they members of your team, clients, investors, or anyone else who has a hand in your business. You’re inspired, you’ve created SMART goals, you’ve set the stage for new beginnings and exciting developments. Now it’s time to share that inspiration with others.
You can do this in several ways and one of the best is to have meetings with all of your stakeholders. You can do this in a one-on-one format, through email blasts, press releases, phone calls - any number of ways! What’s most important about these communications isn’t how you do them, it’s what they contain.
Great communication comes from the heart and that means being vulnerable - you’re putting something you believe in out there for others to scrutinize and perhaps criticize. Be open to feedback from your stakeholders. Your goals may be enough to inspire you, but that doesn’t mean some tweaks are a bad idea. Focus on explaining the goals emotionally - why you’re being driven toward them and how you think they’ll make your business and the world a better place. You can get into the metrics you’ll be looking at, your initial game plan, and other technical information later on in your communication. Start with what inspired you and that will inspire others to follow suit.
With that, you’ve started well on your way to achieving your goals in the new year. You’ve started from the heart, created space for big ideas, and communicated them in a very human way to your stakeholders. With your whole team behind you, there’s nothing you can’t do. Happy New Year!