Why even bother to make New Year’s resolutions for business? Resolutions are often seen as a good thing, but also as kind of a joke. With good reason. A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol surveyed 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. What’s more, 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.
But what about New Year’s resolutions for business? Given that businesses often involve more than one person, it’s hard to see them doing any better with their resolutions.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that New Year’s resolutions for business are totally without merit. The main problem isn’t resolutions themselves, but how we approach them. A lot of the New Year’s resolutions we make for ourselves, and for our businesses, often turn out to be not much more than wishful thinking. New Year’s resolutions for business have to be approached with realistic goal-setting in mind. With this in mind, we can tackle resolutions scientifically, like any other behavior-modification project.
What makes a good New Year’s Resolution?
In an article titled Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail, Ray Williams of Psychology Today outlined guidelines to the best New Year’s resolutions.
- Focus on one resolution.
- Set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be.
- Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day.
- Take small steps.
- Have an accountability buddy.
- Celebrate your success between milestones.
- Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits.
- Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
- Be mindful.
Now that you know how to maximize your chances for success, what would be good New Year’s resolutions for your business? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Give something back to the community.
Donate cash or other resources to a charity or school that serves your community. Your donation could be given monthly or quarterly. Cash and other physical assets are great, but check if you are able to bring something else to the table. Toyota, for instance, famously donated their expertise at creating efficient systems in lieu of cash to an NYC soup kitchen in 2013, creating a huge positive change that would not have been possible had it opted for cash alone.
2. Read one book each month.
To be honest, one is a woefully low number. According to a Huffington Post article titled “The Reading Habits of Ultra-Successful People” by productivity writer Andrew Merle, one thing all successful people have in common is that they love to read. But you have to start somewhere. One a month is more than most people (and probably you) read anyway. Slowly ramp up the number of books after a few months if you can. Audio books are another option you should consider, and they can be a godsend for those of us with long commutes.
Here’s a few reading lists to get you started:
3. Get rid of excess baggage.
This could mean any number of things. It may mean getting rid of workspace clutter. It could even mean getting rid of clients who give you more grief than they’re worth. Identify the issues that you find have been giving you more trouble than they’ve been worth and create a timeline for washing them out of your hair for good. This will clear up more time for the things that truly matter
4. Learn a new language.
Learning a new language can be challenging. But it’s one of the most worthwhile things you can do. Learning a new language opens doors that you may not even know existed, and helps you find patterns and relationships in other areas of life. It will also be useful if you plan on doing business in a non-English speaking market. Know other languages can provide not just the means to communicate effectively in specific markets, it can provide plenty of insights that you simply won’t get by any other means.
Nothing yet available will beat having a competent tutor and language immersion for helping you become fluent. However, there are now dozens of free apps that make decent course materials and exercises easy to get a hold of. Many of them also make it possible to track your progress, which is important for any New Year’s resolution.
Check out: Lignualift – Best Language Learning Apps
5. Show gratitude.
It’s hard to put a metric to this New Year’s resolution, but it’s worth doing. Practicing gratitude not only helps improve your physical health, it can improve your mental strength as well. When it comes to interactions with your customers or team members, developing gratitude should be high on your New Year’s resolution priorities.
Avoid sending out generic e-mails cc’d to everyone. Instead, send out personalized thank you cards and postcards to everyone who has helped your business. Give a token of appreciation to employees and preferred suppliers who have made it possible for your business to survive and thrive in the past year. Better yet, allocate time for a short meeting with every single employee you have, or at least every team and let them know in person exactly why you’re grateful to them.
My resolution this year is to listen to two audio books a month. What are yours?