The time approaches to turn over a new leaf. As is tradition, with every New Year comes resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are fun. They feel productive and foster optimism for what’s to come. They provide us with an opportunity to reflect and self-improve.
That fun usually lasts until around early December, when you realize you haven’t exactly aced your plans. People then fall into the trap of thinking they have enough time left to change everything, and kick it into overdrive to meet their year’s goals. Let’s be real, you don’t. Holidays--I’ll say no more. But you do have enough time to do something meaningful.
This early December point is pivotal. Not because it's time to kick it into overdrive, but because it's time to rethink your strategy and position yourself to succeed in the coming year.
The trick to ending the year on a high note is reflection. Tap into that same self reflection that you used to come up with your goals in the first place. This time, however, you are faced with an age-old challenge: be a realist instead of an optimist.
Step 1: Pause
It’s far too easy to get caught in the optimism loop year after year. We make the same, faulty goals, don’t quite reach them, and then turn around and make similar goals. It’s almost as if we’re telling ourselves, “It’s OK I didn't succeed last year, because this year I’m going even bigger!” … But then we don’t.
Pause for a second. Accept the situation. Chances are, if, by this point, you aren’t extremely close to reaching your goals, you won’t. Again--holidays. It’s not fun or easy to admit failure, especially when it seems like you still have a chance, but it is necessary so that you can put your remaining time to use in a more productive manner.
Step 2: Give Up
The hard part is over. You’ve accepted the situation, and are ready to move on. Step 2 is quite relieving: Give up. The final weeks of the year should not be used to try and cram in all the self improvement you can muster. Fasting for three days isn’t quite the same as a well-balanced diet overall. 80-hr. work weeks for all employees for the last half of Q4 pales in comparison to the productivity achieved by a team of hard-working, diligent people working consistently year-round. A few weeks is not enough time to develop long-lasting, productive habits. It is enough time, however, to prepare yourself to do so in the coming year.
Stop cramming, start planning.
Step 3: Strategize
We have to break the loop of unrealistic, flawed goal making. In the business world, marketing especially, we analyze behavior. Tactics. Methodology. We look through the data of the previous year and see where we came up short. And if someone has largely failed to reach a goal, it's not just their behavior that we take a look at, it's the goal itself. This strategy is applicable in any goal setting context. People search for where they went wrong, but they tend to exclude the actual goal making process from their vision. Include it. Ask: What can you realistically achieve next year? What was flawed about your previous year’s goal making? Some food for thought:
- Did you set too many goals? Perhaps focus on only one or two things.
- Did you set too high of goals? Goals should line up reasonably with your trajectory, not up above by a mile.
- Are you failing to reach the same goals over and over?
This last point is key. If you find yourself stuck in a loop of flawed goal making, it's time you got out. For you business leaders out there, maybe it's time to change things up. Maybe your team is working plenty hard, and it's the goal itself that is faulty. Instead of justifying coming up short by repeating the process and going even bigger next year, pause and consider new goals and new solutions. The business world is rapidly changing, with cloud technologies driving a lot of it. How can your own process change? Instead of what you can do bigger and better, think about what you can do differently. And then act on it, and prepare for a hell of a year.
This past year one of our clients figured out what they could do differently. Read their story below!Originally published on December 03, 2015