It’s that time of year — the time when the “new” wears off and people with good intentions everywhere start to flake on their New Year’s resolutions. Business leaders are not immune – we can also get caught up in the hustle of day-to-day operations and lose sight of our end goals.
Resolutions are good because they force self-reflection, goal setting and priority planning – and I’m a big fan of all three of those things. And resolutions usually support self-improvement – an important part of any life or career. Don’t let them slip away because of a simple lack of focus or motivation.
Now that we’re a little ways into the year, ask yourself: Did I set quality professional and personal goals that, if I work at them, I can achieve this year? If you didn’t, consider the four steps below to focus on your goals in 2017.
(And if you did create some, the four steps can also help you get back on track.)
The process should have started in 2016 with self-reflection, but there is no better method for jumpstarting reflection in a moment’s notice than by asking “why?” Think about any unmet goals from last year, lost revenue, hiring processes, effectiveness of leadership or other issues, and then identify why those problem areas fell short of success. Don’t stop at the easy answers either. Dig deep and unearth the real factors behind issues, even (and especially) if they are hard. These moments from reflections can be tough to face, but if you commit to learning why problems happened and understand why fixing them will make a difference, you can begin working on accomplishing those goals in 2017.
Even if you’ve already created New Year’s resolutions, whether for yourself or your business, you need to make sure there is plan to go along with them. In other words, your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
Specificity means that there are no wishy-washy aspects to your goal. Goals need to be concise and definite. Measurability means being able to track quantifiable progress on your way to achieving your goal, such as “I will do this X number of times or for X amount of time.” Also, be realistic with your goals. They shouldn’t be too lofty, or you risk setting yourself up for failure. Aim high, but be sure you can reach your destination. Lastly, your goals must be timely. Focus on important things that you can actually achieve by a certain date, such as within a quarter or a year.
At the workplace, it is crucial to your success to surround yourself with honest and encouraging colleagues who know your goals and will push you to be your best. Count on your team to call you out, make you better, teach you and help you. If you make it a priority to face accountability in 2017, I promise it will make all the difference.
I love the quote from Maria Robinson, which says, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” In business, this quote is an important reminder that you can’t just rewind the tape and start over. You must continuously prepare yourself for the next goal — the next task, and with 2017 already underway, there’s no time to waste. Make a commitment now to start taking the goal-achieving process seriously.
For those of you that need new resolutions, or for those that need to take a second look, set yourself up for success in 2017 by sticking to realistic goals and surrounding yourself with motivated supporters. When you’re focused, you can attain all the things you want for your business in the new year.
This article originally appeared on SmallBizDaily.com.