I swear I’ll do it this year: Making a resolution you will actually stick to
2016 has arrived! As usual, everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions. But, how many of us actually keep them?
The most basic, yet most impactful, thing you can do for your business this year starts with you. If you follow through on one resolution, make it to improve yourself in some skill or area in your life. Focus on a way to be a better, more effective person in your day-to-day living. This doesn’t have to be something big — in fact, if you work on one skill each year, the cumulative result will have you waking up several years down the road as a new person!
What this resolution should look like
Many of you are great at many things, but there is always an area you can improve. Your growth for the year could be focused on listening, communicating or leading better. It could be focused on a certain skill, or even the mastery of a new technology. Perhaps you don’t know much about social media, but being knowledgeable about that tool could directly help your business.
With a focus on personal growth, I too have been able to grow my career as a result. My first role at Nexstar was working directly with vendors, and I didn’t really need to know how to read a financial statement, but my role evolved, and I started to move into a coaching position. As I began working directly with member companies, it was clear I had to learn more about financials. I sat in on other coaching calls, I read multiple books, I watched webinars, and I attempted to soak up as much as I could about the subject. From this, I was able to improve my financial statement acumen — and I’m still learning.
However, keep in mind that your chosen skill does not have to obviously correlate with something in your business. A focus on being a better listener this year will have a profound impact in your personal life and your company.
Three ways to stick to your resolution
There are three important elements to fulfilling your New Year’s resolution: a personal growth plan, accountability and time.
Personal growth plan: Your personal growth plan, at its most simple, needs to include action. This might mean committing to an online class, or reading three books about your chosen skill. You need to have concrete actions or materials to go with your resolution, or you’ll never do it. Life will get in the way, and your vague goal about something-or-other will quickly get buried under a pile of to-dos. Take the time to think through your resolution to its logical end and come up with the resources you will need to get you there.
Accountability: Now that you have a plan for yourself, you need someone to hold you accountable. It’s not enough to come up with a resolution, you need to say it out loud to someone else; otherwise, your goal is just a wish that you keep to yourself. I once made it a goal to read 12 books in a year. I told my manager at the time about it, and she only asked me about my progress maybe three or four times that year. But I never knew when she was going to ask. What mattered less than her bringing it up was the fact that I had told her I was going to do it — this outward mention had created an internal drive in me, and I read a book a month that year. It doesn’t matter who your accountability buddy is, as long as it is someone who will keep you on your toes. Just don’t forget, the onus of achieving your resolution is on you: this is ultimately about improving yourself.
Time: We already know that time is a precious commodity. As you read this, you may already be asking yourself the very reasonable question, “But how will I find the time?” Take a look at your life. Find a place where you can make your personal growth plan fit. This might mean changing your behavior slightly: on your commute, instead of listening to a half hour of sports radio like I do, listen to a book on tape or podcast you’ve selected as a part of your plan. Remember, your resolution does not have to be big — I’m not asking you to earn a college degree in a year — so set aside enough time to complete your plan. There will still be enough time leftover for sports.
Although you will have an accountability buddy, perhaps you would like to take your resolution a step further and find a mentor. Your mentor could be someone in your local community, or not, as long as you have access to regular communication with him or her, and this person has knowledge to share!
While a flesh-and-blood mentor is great, you may end up relying on a printed or digital mentor instead. Find the thought leaders in your chosen area of improvement — the Zig Ziglars of the world if you’re into sales, for example — and go from there. Find someone whose work inspires you and teaches you something. I’ve learned a lot from John Maxwell, author of “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.” Though he has several books to choose from, this book is particularly helpful because of Maxwell’s solid steps to lead you toward self-improvement.
If you’re interested in expanding the reach of your resolution, consider bringing it directly into your business somehow. For example, your entire management team could read the same book and regularly meet to discuss “a-ha!” moments from the chapters you’ve just completed. This way, you can keep your whole team on the same page and learn something together.
Why you need this resolution
This might all sound like a lot of effort. So why should you take the time to work on yourself in the coming year? Media personality and social commentator Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Change is inevitable. It is vital to your business and your life in general to continue to strive toward being the best you can be. If you try to do this, you will not only enhance your life and your business, but you will find the improved business will also improve the lives of your employees. Lead by example. The best outcome of this exercise is not only to better yourself, but to inspire others to also do so.