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As we enter a new year and reflect on our personal and professional progress from 2016, we realize how far we have come and how far we need to go in the next 12 months. It’s a New Year, the energy is building and you are ready to set some serious goals to take your business to the next level. While you may have halfheartedly thought of some personal resolutions or even a few goals for your business, the chances are that you haven’t made time to commit to strategically set achievable goals for 2017. We are here to help with that! These are a few action steps we encourage you to think about as you map out your year.

Commit to a Deadline

Know what you want, and know when you want it. Creating a deadline creates urgency; if you want to see 1,000 more followers on your Instagram account by March 1st, your drive to work will be much higher than if you would like to see that 1,000 at some point in the near future. It’s built-in motivation. Be ambitious! Believe in yourself and know your worth. If something can be done in three months, don’t give yourself four as a safety. Entering a goal with hesitancy is a sure way to not fully achieve it. If you tend to procrastinate, you may want to set several smaller deadlines. If you want to finish your book by April, setting goals for the 1st of every month could be helpful. One of our favorite tools to use for keeping up with goals is Asana– an online project management platform that allows you to set up due dates for the tasks that you need to complete in order to achieve a goal.

What Can You Do Today?

Think of your goals as a Russian egg doll. Collapsing the greater goal of $1 million into smaller goals of $500,000, $250,000, $100,000, etc., can make the journey much more digestible. Keep breaking down your goal until you can answer this: What can you do today? That is, after all, all we have, and it becomes a much more thrilling question when you think that Oprah and Warren Buffet have the same number of hours in the day as you. So, think about what you and your team can do today. Get one new client. Write 1,200 words. Promote a social media page. It’ll keep you motivated, and it’ll keep your goals actionable and real.

Your Phrasing Matters

Sometimes we express our goals in the negative – “Stop wasting money going out to lunch,” “Stop beating myself up over a lost customer,” “Stop comparing my business to others”. That’s natural, we should want to better ourselves. However, negative phrasing may be hurting you. Phrasing your goals in a positive way does more than simply create a mental shift from your failures to your successes. Often times, it can unlock the means to attain it. “Prepare lunches at home,” “Start showing new customers how much we value them,” and “Start treating my business like a friend” are all much more actionable than their negative counterparts. If something feels negative, make sure to ask yourself, “What needs to be done instead?” Phrase your goals positively, and confidently and truly believe that you WILL achieve them. “I will finish my book by April” has a much stronger effect than “I would like to finish my book by hopefully April.”

Work With Your Brain Not Against It

Derek Sivers has a great TED talk about keeping your goals to yourself. It’s short and well worth a watch, but in summary he goes into how just telling someone your goal creates a sense of satisfaction and gratification. If you tell a friend, “I’m going to make a million dollars by 2018,” they might react favorably, and you’ll feel great about yourself for being so ambitious. Studies show that feeling actually lowers your motivation, and you’ll be far less likely to complete the task.

Personal psychology is a huge hurdle. Doubt and fear are obvious, but Sivers’ example is much more insidious. It’s crucial to stay disciplined, even in the face of your own brain. Find what works for you. If that means keeping your cards to your chest, great. If that means telling someone your plan so they hold you accountable, great. Just be sure that you’re listening to yourself, and actually chipping away at that goal rather than only thinking or talking about it. Instead of worrying about time management, work on personal management. One tool we recommend is finding a solid accountability partner who will hold you to your goals and deadlines.

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Things do not always go according to plan. A whole universe of unexpected problems, road blocks, and dilemmas await your business. Great! That should be exciting, it creates more opportunity for improvement. However, handling these hiccups does require a lot of improvising, and if you’ve set your goal path in stone, you’ve boxed yourself in. Being actionable does not mean giving up being fluid; stay on your toes, work in the moment, but never take your eyes off the prize. Stay disciplined and keep pushing hard for the win- in Jim Rohn’s words,”if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”.

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