I know this is going to sound rather bah-humbug of me. But I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe in them. Why? Because in my experience, in both my personal life and my business, it is nearly impossible to accomplish anything significant in a year. It takes longer than that. Sometimes, much longer.
My friend Bo Eason, a former NFL safety, says that it takes 20 years to become the best at anything. I think he’s probably right. But I can’t wait 20 years to achieve certain goals. I don’t have that much time. So this raises an important question. What can you accomplish in a year and what should you shoot for?
I believe in SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Realistic. Time-bound. Within a year, I may not accomplish everything I dream about. But I can definitely make some huge progress. You can too. I’d like to show you why SMART goals are so much more valuable than resolutions.
Most people fail at resolutions because they don’t have a real plan.
I’m Not The Only One
I just conducted a search on the term – new year’s resolutions. I got back 108 million responses. Apparently, I’m not the only one who is interested in this topic. But here’s the funny part. Several of these articles are about how to break your new year’s resolutions quickly so you can get past the disappointment of not fulfilling them.
Apparently this topic has been studied and psychologists discover that most resolutions are never realized. It depends on the study, but some will say that only 10% of those who make resolutions will actually stick to them over the course of a year. I don’t like those odds.
Now I know that most of the resolutions that people can’t seem to stick to are health-related. People promise themselves to eat better, exercise more, drop pounds and just generally become a more vibrant person.
Those are great goals. So why don’t more people stick to them? Well I’m no psychologist, but here is what I’ve witnessed. Most people fail at resolutions because they don’t have a real plan. There is an old saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. That has certainly been true in my experience.
How I Transformed My Health
I used to have a doctor that I would see once or twice a year for a health checkup and the occasional illness. Every time he saw me, he said the same thing. Randy, you need to lose at least 20 pounds. But the problem is that he never told me how to do this. I wanted to get healthier. I was willing to do the work. But I didn’t know what to do.
More than that, I didn’t have a plan that would allow me to work toward a larger goal and measure my progress in reasonable increments. That all changed when I met a doctor who specialized in vitality and longevity medicine.
I flew to Denver, Colorado and met with this doctor. He and his team conducted more scans, blood tests and lab work on me than I even knew existed. Within 24 hours, I had a plan that was customized to my physiology and my goals. He gave me a stretch goal that I didn’t think was possible.
Guess what? It worked. I followed the plan and measured my results. This doctor and his team coached me. They showed me what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, what vitamins to take, how to rest more effectively and how to stick with this over time.
I didn’t drop 20 pounds. I dropped 35 pounds. I am healthier now than I was in my 30s. This is the power of goals, plans and metrics. No resolution that I had ever made actually worked. But that plan worked, because I worked it.
But what about business people? Do we make resolutions that are doomed to fail because we fail to plan? I think you know the answer to that.
What Are Your Goals?
My health transformation was not accomplished in 12 months. It took me more than 18 months to finally hit the goal I’d set for myself. But all along the way, I was making visible progress. I could see the pounds melting away. I could feel my energy level growing. My mind was definitely sharper.
When I ask service professionals about the number one goal they want to accomplish in the next 12 months, they usually say to me – we want to grow. I say to them – growth is a process, not a goal.
For you to achieve your business goals in 2016, you don’t need resolutions. But you do need goals. I recommend that you set a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) if you haven’t already done so. Most BHAGs will take a long time to accomplish, typically a decade or more. Then you can set some incremental goals for 2016 that get you one step closer to that BHAG. What kind of BHAG might you set? Here are some ideas based on our experiences.
We serve two types of clients at my company:
- Owners or stakeholders in small-to-medium-sized service-based companies.
- Senior marketing executives at large service companies.
Most of the owners and stakeholders want to grow a highly profitable service-based business that they can sell in the future. They want this liquidity event to net out multi-generational wealth that will outlive them. Their BHAG is to transfer their business and reap a big reward.
Most of the senior marketing executives we serve want to grow their careers, achievements and net income. They want to increase their visibility as a respected professional in their company and industry. They want to win awards. They want to really enjoy doing meaningful work that earns them a place at the executive table. Along the way, they want to earn as high an income as possible. Their BHAG is to become a power-player in their market.
What will it take for these people to achieve their BHAGs? It takes incremental SMART goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. A resolution, on the other hand, is like a wish, a hope. Hope is not a business plan, a friend of mine says. So I’d like to ask you some questions about the goals you are setting for yourself in 2016.
SMART goals are specific. Why does specificity matter? Because a specific goal is inherently measurable. For instance, there is a huge difference between saying – I want to grow in 2016 – and saying – I want to grow by 25% in 2016. A specific goal is binary. Either you achieved it or you didn’t. There is no middle ground. It is amazing how setting a specific goal focuses the mind on an action plan to achieve it. What specific goal are you setting for 2016?
SMART goals are measurable. Measurable goals are the only ones that matter. This is why you need a set of metrics to help you chart your progress, just like I had metrics to help me realize my health goals. When you think about what you want to accomplish in 2016, ask yourself how you’ll measure your progress.
SMART goals are actionable. A goal that doesn’t require you to take some specific action isn’t really a goal. It’s a wish or a hope. When you think about your goals for 2016, what actions do you intend to take? It’s wise to make a list of those specific actions.
SMART goals are also realistic. This is where I see a big difference between the two types of clients we serve. Most executives are pretty realistic about what they can accomplish because they know their influence, budgets and decision-rights are limited. But entrepreneurs are inherently dreamers. They are often not realistic about what can be accomplished within a given timeframe. When you think about 2016, set stretch goals. But also make sure those goals are realistic. So what kind of realistic goals will you set, given the time, people and budget you have at your disposal?
Finally, SMART goals are time-bound. The reason I think this is important is because a lot of people set goals but don’t build a plan to accomplish the bigger goal in smaller increments. This is where project management tools like Gantt charts are so important. When you think about the big goals you want to achieve in 2016, how can you break them down into a set of smaller goals that are time-bound to specific dates over the year?
A Resource To Help You
A major goal for all of our clients is to reap the benefits of great digital marketing. I’ve developed a resource to help you achieve this goal in 2016. I’ve written an an e-book called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue. This book is designed to help service marketers use modern technologies and processes to grow revenue. I know this e-book will be a huge help to you.