By now, that resolution to hit the gym three times a week is likely a lost cause. We mean well, but when it comes to keeping our New Year’s resolutions, we rarely follow through. Why does this happen? Commitment only starts to form when we see tangible results. Six-pack abs don’t appear after two weeks, so we drift off and focus on other things that provide the positive reinforcement we crave.
Unrealistic commitments such as rock-hard abs in 30 days -- or unattainable revenue goals -- make us feel like failures. In reality, however, we never gave ourselves a chance. We often pursue the challenges we set for ourselves alone, further damaging our chances of meeting them.
No one makes important life changes in solitude. We need accountability partners -- people who keep us in check and remind us of our goals when we falter. This need for accountability rings true with business goals as well, whether they’re set for the first quarter or updated year-round.
In business, we encounter the same obstacles to resolutions as we do in our personal lives. Overly optimistic projections and a lack of accountability and analysis darken even the best efforts before they get off the ground. To combat the temptation to slide back into old habits, we must first create an environment conducive to success.
1. Set replicable, maintainable goals. Goals shouldn’t be one-off promises based on annual reminders; they should be new behavior patterns altogether. The best resolutions are not concrete goals but revamped processes that become ingrained in our minds and company cultures.
My company maintains an automated system that gathers data and updates our key performance indicators on a weekly basis to keep us on track. Once the habits and routines get in place, the goals practically meet themselves.
2. Make goals visible. At InList, we keep a TV screen at our workplace that displays a dynamic company dashboard showing all of our key metrics, targets and goals. This encourages our team to strive toward our objectives by making them impossible to overlook. Humans are forgetful creatures -- we must constantly remind ourselves of our goals to achieve them.
3. Attack small goals now. I like to pick a few easy wins I can accomplish over the next two to four weeks to boost my team’s motivation. After we accomplish the smaller tasks, we can attack the bigger ones while feeling capable and prepared.
4. Create action items within goals. Most goals consist of several smaller sub-goals. I’ve taken on the habit of identifying one big goal (e.g., increasing sales), then quantifying smaller portions of that goal (increasing hot leads in this area, selling more to existing clients, etc.) to measure my progress.
5. Measure constantly. In my line of work, I see businesses stumble all the time, because they fail to itemize and measure their resolutions. Waiting until the end of the year to collect and evaluate data is a great way to let a small problem turn into a big one.
At InList, our key performance indicator dashboard shows our up-to-date progress on measurements from top-line numbers (such as revenue and total downloads) to more fluid metrics (such as repeat users and retention).
6. Compare and correct. The beginning of a new resolution isn’t just a time to set new projections, but to compare last year’s projections to reality. My team and I discuss what our goals were over the last year, month or week, and ask whether we hit them, how close we were and what we could have done differently. No one knows the future, but we can all make adjustments in time to minimize mistakes today if we evaluate where costs don’t produce value and where we should refocus our efforts.
Resolutions don’t have to be hard. With the right preparation, we have the power to keep the promises we make to ourselves and build next year’s successes on top of this year’s.