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Forget About Immediate Results and Other Must-Read Business Tips

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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

Entrepreneurs are accustomed to setting goals. They tend to have goals for revenue; for number of customers, clients or users; for sales figures. But goals can be detrimental to long-term progress, says James Clear, an entrepreneur, weightlifter and photographer who writes about how to improve your work and health. Once you reach a goal, that goal is no longer there to motivate you. "When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?" Clear asks.

Instead, focus on the process. Your goal might be a particular sales number, while the systematic process of reaching that goal involves particular marketing strategies, hiring patterns and other actions you take every day. If you stay focused on the process, or system, rather than the goal, you will remain motivated no matter what the numbers look like. "Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process," Clear says. "In the end, process always wins." More: Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Incorporate positive habits into your daily routine.

As you begin to set goals and plan a routine for the new year, start from a place of positivity. "Your brain is three times more creative in a positive state," says Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage (Crown Business, 2010) and Before Happiness (Crown Business, 2013). To ensure you maintain your high despite the daily grind, devote some time each day to a positive habit. Examples include meditating and writing down things you've accomplished or things for which you're grateful. Achor found that a test group of workers who engaged in one of these positive habits for a couple of minutes a day over 21 consecutive days reported a higher level of job satisfaction, greater job effectiveness and reduced stress. More: 4 Ways to Get Into a Positive Mindset for the New Year

Consult your staff before making a new hire.

You may think you know what's best for your staff when it comes to adding new people, but you run a good chance of making a mistake if you don't consult your employees first. If staff members are telling you they need an extra body to help them with the work load, then ask them to specify exactly how a new employee would help, says Mark Feffer, the managing editor of Dice News, which provides news and advice for job seekers. If you're taking the initiative to hire someone new, first consult your staff about its needs. And don't forget the personal element. "Bringing in a developer may get your existing developer's nose out of joint if he believes he's got everything under control," Feffer says. "While his feelings may or may not change your mind, consulting with all involved will help you identify any challenges you'll have to address to keep everyone happy and productive." More: Think You Need to Hire? Think Again.

Provide yourself and employees with holiday downtime.

It's a no-brainer that people perform best when their energy level is high. For many people, the year is a marathon and the winter holiday season is a necessary time to slow down and relax. Managers should respond accordingly, easing up on demands and giving employees a break, says Bob Marsh, chief executive of LevelEleven, a Detroit-based software company that creates apps to motivate workers. "Creating a comfortable and understanding work environment is crucial for employee productivity," he says. During the holiday season, try not to contact your employees after working hours. You can try a little on-the-clock R&R too. "Organize an office-wide coffee break on Friday afternoons featuring staff-favorite seasonal blends, or provide an afternoon off to make a dent in holiday shopping," says Marsh. "When you respect them, you motivate them to give the best to you and the company." More: 3 Ways to Keep Up Productivity Over the Holidays

Resist the peer pressure to rise early.

If you are a natural early riser, more power to you. But if not, it's better to listen to your body and work when you're most alert and productive rather than to force an early start each day. While some entrepreneurs and executives make getting up before the sun a point of pride, others manage to build successful businesses with saner hours. Athelia LeSueur, the founder of New York-based clothing company Shabby Apple, calls herself "a ferocious worker" despite getting 10 hours of sleep a night. "An early day often starts at nine for me. Hip, hip for sleeping in." More: Yes, You Can Sleep In and Still Be Successful

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