I have an ambivalent relationship with the concept of New Year’s resolutions.
Let me explain.
I love goals.
For the past two years, I have been able to accomplish almost every goal that I have set related to finances, powerlifting, and professional success. It feels incredible-- There is something unique and human about being able to create a future in your mind that didn't exist and bring it to life.
Many of society’s greatest accomplishments have been carried on the backs of amazing men and women who have envisioned success and willed it into being.
People who are focused on their goals make them a priority.
On January 1, the Earth completes its revolution around the sun.
There is nothing unique about January 1. While the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on the past and provide a clean slate to build something, many goals are made without the foresight or intentions that will lead to them actually being accomplished.
If you want to accomplish your goals you need to avoid making the common mistakes that will prevent you from making your dreams become reality.
Keep reading to learn about four of the greatest obstacles that can keep you from accomplishing your business goals and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Goals that aren’t accomplishable because they aren’t well defined or specific
Many people say things like: “I’m going to double my revenue”, “I’m going to get out of debt”, and “I’m going to achieve financial freedom”.
These well-intentioned statements turn people’s heads because they make people feel good and help reassure us in the face of personal doubt.
Unfortunately, repeating lofty wishes like these isn't specific enough to be able to take concrete action.
You need a standard that you can hold yourself accountable to. A specifically defined goal is something that you make direct progress on.
Example of what not to do: “My goal in 2022 is to make more money than I did in 2021.”
Why this is a bad example: The example above is not measurable on a month-by-month basis. You won’t be able to tell whether you are on the right track throughout the year and will inevitably lose control of the final outcome.
You should do this instead: Before setting a goal you first need to define what your specific input variables are going to be (employees, time, budget, marketing, equipment, and customers) and define how these variables would need to be changed or rearranged in order for revenue to increase.
To put it simply, you know what resources are available to you and these resources define the parameters of what you have to work with.
With all of your variables laid out in front of you, you need to come up with a way that they can be arranged or changed in order to make incremental progress.
Variables by themselves don’t mean much, but combined together they can have a multiplying effect.
Here’s how this works:
Let’s say that you have t trucks, e employees, 40 hours in the workweek, x number of customers, and y amount of cash to invest in your business. If you earned r amount of revenue from what you did last year you need to change one of the variables in order for it to directly influence the other one.
Let’s say that you take y (cash) and decide to invest it in more equipment or marketing. Purchasing the right equipment reduces the time that it takes to accomplish a job effectively, and marketing has the potential to increase customer loyalty.
These kinds of changes are an investment. They require money upfront and careful cultivation that lead to a new output.
With changes like these, you can come up with a realistic number for the revenue that you want to earn this year.
Along the way, you want to set targets that are measurable and defined.
Each month you assess whether or not you are on track based on your incremental monthly goals.
If you are falling short in one way or another then you need to adjust accordingly to get back on track.
Why is this more effective?
If you want something different to happen then you need to do something different. The best place to start is by taking what you already have and magnifying it. Don’t focus on making big changes. Focus on doing the little things right every day.
Set small measurable goals that you create based on your inputs and keep track of your progress. Adjust these accordingly until you have accomplished your goals.
2. The Goals are not attainable because people overestimate their ability to accomplish something.
Perfecting your craft is both an art and a science; you have to walk before you learn how to run.
To put it bluntly, many people haven’t cultivated the self-awareness necessary to understand what is possible for them. People like this start something with a good intention but have no actionable plan.
Example of what not to do: “I have 4 trucks and I’m going to add 100 customers that get their carpets cleaned at least three times a year to my business in 2022, even though I currently only have 50 from the last two years.”
Why this is a bad example: You have the same equipment, manpower, and amount of time in the day.
If you currently only have 50 regular customers that are part of your customer base and you have spent two years to build up to this number, why would you all of a sudden be able to triple the number next year?
The only possible way to accomplish this goal would be to increase your input. You would either need more trucks, more time in the day (expanding your hours of operation), or investing a significant amount of money and time in your marketing efforts.
It is likely that this goal is not feasible and that you are overestimating your ability to accomplish it unless you make significant changes.
You should do this instead: “I know that I currently have 50 regular customers. I also have x amount of money to invest in my marketing. Tony, one of my technicians, has told me that he could use some more hours, and I also have money in the budget to pay him for staying longer on Friday. If we put in 4 extra hours of cleaning every week and invest in an email marketing strategy I can get at least two new regular paying customers every month of the year. By the end of the year, my goal is to have at least 75 regular paying customers that get their carpets cleaned.”
Why is this more effective? This goal is realistic, stretches you, and is an accurate representation of what you can accomplish given your budget and time constraints. You have also factored in the real change that you can make in order to produce different results.
3. Goals that aren’t remotely attainable based on one’s past actions or skillset
You need to build the habit of practicing success every day.
It’s important to remember that you don’t become who you want to be overnight. It comes in bits and pieces. Those pieces continue to build upon each other over time until you get closer and closer to who you want to be.
If you haven’t gotten in the habit of this type of practice there is no way around it. You don’t get from point A to point C by skipping point B.
Example of what not to do: "In 2022 I’m going to add x service to my business. I’ve never performed this service before but I’ve heard from a lot of others that it’s a really easy way to generate revenue. Because of this, at least 25% of my revenue next year is going to come from adding this service.”
Why this is a bad example:
If you haven’t ever performed a service before then you have no actual experience confronting the potential difficulties that can come along with it. Until you understand the actual challenges that come with it then projecting a 25% increase in revenue from adding this servicing isn’t ambitious—it’s misguided.
You should do this instead:
When you add the service you should set a smaller goal that stretches you to work hard but is also within reach. This will enable you to get your bearings straight and gain momentum by first experiencing small victories.
If you experience a small victory, you can start to reassess and make a goal that’s a little bit more ambitious. You want to keep building upon this until you are able to achieve your ultimate goal.
Why is this more effective?
Overnight success doesn’t ever happen. We hear stories all the time about people who break records and hold the world in the palm of their hands. None of them achieved greatness overnight.
All of the people that did great things were tenacious, diligent, and gradually built from one success to another.
Success is certainly possible, it just requires diligence and hard work.
4. The Goal isn’t accomplishable because it isn’t a Priority
People always find a way to accomplish the things that are the most important to them.
I’m a powerlifter and weightlifting is one of my greatest passions. Despite this, there are many days that I hate going to the gym. My chest aches, I can barely feel my legs, and I have to push through each rep on back squat even when I feel like I’m going to fall over.
I do this because my goals related to lifting are some of the most important in my life.
We all have myriad responsibilities and obligations that require our attention. Many of these commitments won’t go away. Instead, we must find a way to renegotiate our time so that our goals also get the attention that they deserve.
A big reason that many don’t accomplish their goals is that they don’t prioritize them.
Example of what not to do: Don’t set a goal for your business that is going to require a lot of time and emotional investment and just expect it to somehow magically fit into your schedule.
For example, if you want to double your customer base through email marketing, you’ve got to spend a lot of time writing and creating successful emails.
Emails don’t just write themselves.
You need to budget time every week to write emails that are going to resonate with your customers, and these emails can’t just be an afterthought.
Why this is a bad example: You can’t just expect that something is going to happen just because you want it to. If you want to increase your customer retention through social media or email marketing, you have to set aside time in your schedule to do it every week.
You should do this instead: In this example, the person should set aside four to five hours each week to write emails for their customers. If this isn’t an option due to time constraints, you might want to consider hiring somebody if possible.
Why is this more effective? If you do the same exact things that you did last year with your resources, you will have the exact same results. Period. The same exact input always equals the same exact output.
Whenever you invest time and resources into your goals you move one step closer to accomplishing them.
A final note about putting in the work: Don’t be a hypemonger
You’ve probably met somebody that never stops talking about what they’re going to do.
It can be difficult to spot these kinds of people, but there are signs of what to look for. They might post motivational quotes on Facebook, or have a couple of excuses that they always hide behind when you try to hold them accountable.
I’m not sure if there is a word that describes this type of person, but I refer to them as hypemongers.
They live in the realm of rah, rah, rah, but when the time for performance comes they are all smoke and mirrors.
Some people are hypemongers because it feels good for them to be able to talk about what they are going to do in front of an audience. Others hype themselves up in an attempt to find motivation, which later fizzles out.
The best way to avoid becoming a hypemonger is to put in the work. Show up for yourself. Do the things that nobody likes. If you put in the effort every day you aren’t building up hype, you are practicing success.
If you just set New Year’s goals for 2022 or plan to, you want to avoid the roadblocks that I described above. These are some of the most common obstacles that usually prevent people from accomplishing their goals.
When you sit down with your goals, take a look at them and walk yourself through each one of these impediments. I based a lot of my advice in this article on the S.M.A.R.T acronym above, so if you have a hard time remembering what to do, remember that you want those five qualities to be baked into every goal. A strong goal will be able to withstand scrutiny and you will have an answer for each of the challenges that these difficulties present.
I promise you that with the proper planning, personal awareness, arrangement of resources, and drive that you will be able to accomplish your goals.