Welcome to 2018! This is a great time to examine your 2017 and set yourself up for success in 2018. What kind of a year did you have? If you looked back at your business on January 1, 2017, and the goals you had for the year ahead, how would it compare?
Be honest, if your progress was less than you hoped, why is that? Were your goals too big, or did you fail to give them the time and attention they required? If you met your goals, to what do you attribute your success? Were your goals too easy or should they have been more aggressive? Spend time thinking about what enabled you to do so well.
This is purely a private, self-diagnosis. So, you should be totally honest. Because a year from now you should be doing the same thing! Research shows that people who set goals and intentionally focus on them are more successful. Think about what you need to do to sustain the business of your choice and meet or surpass the goals that you set for yourself.
Most of us are easily distracted. Smart people can follow various trails because they’re interesting, but unfortunately cause us to lose our focus. (I’m reminded of my dog chasing squirrels he’s unable to catch.) Sometimes we’re forced to put out daily fires and become immersed in the tactical. And sometimes we’re obligated to pick up where others have failed—clients, employees, vendors, partners, and so forth. (This classic “failure work,” drains our time and energy without us being productive.)
If you want to prepare for a 2018 that moves your business forward, consider these areas:
Is your business creating joy or causing pain? Business will never be all rainbows and unicorns. However, if you find yourself in pain more often than you should, it’s time to consider how you can change that.
Does your team support you or drain you? Humans are messy creatures and managing them is hard work. If you find that your team is contributing to your happiness, you are on the right track. If your team drains your time and energy, consider what can be done to change the situation.
Is your business profitable or are you constantly struggling with cash flow? Business is a cycle of peaks and valleys that are never easy to navigate. Overall, your business should be able to weather the valleys and soar across the peaks. If you are struggling, it might be time for some expert help.
Too often I see business owners focus so intently on running their business they ignore their health. If you are feeling sluggish, have low energy, or catch every bug that goes around, you may want to focus on creating a healthier lifestyle that includes a good night’s sleep, exercise, and good nutrition.
Personal Relaxation Time
As business owners, downtime is critical. We need healthy relationships with family and friends. Our brains need time to rest and rejuvenate. We need time for strategic thinking and planning. Make sure your 2018 includes some time for you.
I’m not suggesting you stay on the superhighway all year. There will be times when you must take an off-ramp, explore, refuel, and right a few wrong turns. However, as a business owner, I am suggesting you take stock of the overall evolution of your journey. Remember, you can make great time going to the wrong place.
Here are a few guidelines to set you up for success in 2018:
My best advice is to take stock of where you’ve made the most progress and look at those areas where you fell behind. Then, duplicate the things you did to make progress and eliminate those habits or traps which slowed or halted you. For example:
- Listen to people who are experienced, wise, and have your best interests in mind.
- Work with an informal mentor or professional coach who can help you. Refuse to be held back by people who are not invested in your success.
- Surround yourself with people who support you and bless and release the ones who don’t. You want people who will celebrate your victories and help you navigate setbacks instead of bringing you down with negative thoughts and complaints.
- Give yourself the gift of downtime so you have time to work on your business and not in it. Spend time doing things that help you feel refreshed and energized, rather than overwhelmed and exhausted.
- Focus on your health. Sleep, eat food that nourishes your mind and body. Make exercise and movement your priority. Your body was not meant to be inactive. It was built for movement.
- Pay attention to your numbers. Your revenues and profits should be increasing. If you are not watching your numbers, it’s hard to know where you stand and when things happen—as they always do—it’s difficult and stressful to navigate through those tough times.
Finally, remember that life is short and you only live once (YOLO). Take stock of where you are, evaluate this past year candidly, and set goals to make 2018 a great year for your business and your life.
Because, as one of my wise mentors frequently asks me, “If not now, when?”
Ready to take the next steps? Here are some ideas: