and why I'm getting started on them before January 1
by Brittany Taylor
published November 10, 2017
updated June 5, 2018
¶ I’m like the rest of the world: I suck at resolutions. This year, like every year, I’ve convinced myself that it’s going to go differently. But this year, unlike years past, I’m changing the what and the how..
Like you, I’ve read oodles of articles about goal-setting. “The more quantitative you can make your goals, the greater the chance you have of achieving them,” I read. Well, OK, I thought. I’ll make measurable goals, measurable resolutions, resolutions about how much I wanted to earn and how many clients I wanted to have by year’s end. It’s quantitative, I reasoned. It should totally work!
Except it never did, and when I failed to stick with my resolutions, it was depressing as all get out.
Sound familiar? Welcome to my New Year’s Eve Pity Party.
I’m all about words, but I got “resolution” dead wrong. I equated New Year’s resolutions with end-of-year goals, and that’s not what they’re about. My dollar-based resolutions failed for the same reason “I want to lose 20 pounds” fails: They’re goals, not actions.
Resolutions need to be action-oriented. You should resolve to do something, not to achieve something. And the smaller your something is, the more likely you are to do it and to stick with it.
Resolutions also need to be reasonable. They need to suit the way you live. Or, in this instance, the way you do business.
This is another reason my “make $X by December 31” didn’t work out. It required me to squeeze my business and my customers into packages, and that’s not how I operate. Of course it didn’t work! I set myself up to fail from day 1—uh, literally.
This year, I’m making a handful of resolutions that are really just positive changes I want to make in my business. They’re not dreamy. Instead, they’re conventional. They’re practical. And they’re small, which makes them both feasible and unintimidating.
I’m also changing the way I come up with them and when I implement them.
Last year (and the year before, and the year before that), I earmarked the week between Christmas and New Year’s as a week of learning, strategizing, and planning. I’d cram in books and blog posts and worksheets, and I’d come up with big ideas about what I wanted to accomplish in the following year. Then I’d craft resolutions based on those big ideas with the notion that I’d get to work on January 1.
Except I’d never get to work on January 1, and by the time I did get to work, I felt overwhelmed by these high-brow aspirations I’d had while I was riding high on Christmas chocolate and candy canes. I’d freeze up. I’d lose my focus. And just like that, my resolutions went out the window.
This year will be different. In fact, it already is. I made my brief list of resolutions before I sat down to write this post and I’ve already started to act on them. By the time January 1 rolls around, these new actions will have become habit. 2018 will be more about keeping up the good work than getting started on something new, and I think that will set me up for success.
(I’ll let you know what happens a year from now, of course!)
Ready to see which actions I’ll be taking forward into the New Year? Onward and upward, friends! Onward and upward.
Here are my 2018 business resolutions (and all of them are currently works-in-progress):
My business is a party-of-one, and it’s small enough now to not really need formal bookkeeping. But the more clients I worked with this year, the more I realized that while I might not need formal bookkeeping, I could move more quickly and efficiently if I streamlined my business finances.
This November, I reworked my invoicing system. My clients pay me in a variety of ways: paper check, direct deposit, Pay Pal, and credit card. Prior to now, I’ve sent each client a different kind of invoice depending on their payment method of choice. Now, I’m using Wave for all of my clients instead of just my credit card payers so that all of my payment information is in one place.
It’s a simple change, but now I can see at a glance (and without maintaining a separate spread sheet) what I’ve made, what I’ve billed, who I’m waiting on, and what taxes I need to pay. So much simpler!
Every single client has complimented me on my online invoicing, except one. She sent a check in the mail and I haven't heard from her since, so...outlier? Lesson: You can't please everyone.
I’m on Instagram every day. I’m on Facebook every day. Most days, though, I spend most of that time scrolling through pretty dresses and scowling at news articles. Now, I’m shoving that agenda back 20 minutes for the good of my business (and, let’s be honest, my brain).
I’ve spoken about how I started using Twitter again because of the community-building aspects. Guys, much like most of my resolutions, that one failed. I really don’t enjoy Twitter. Part of this new resolution is to stop feeling guilty about not spending time there.
Instead, I’ll be spending 10 minutes a day commenting on Instagram posts and 10 minutes a day commenting on Facebook group posts. I set a timer. I get it done. And I go back to fashion and news.
Both Instagram and Facebook make it easy to interact with my favorite people. Instagram saves your recent or popular searches, which means that I can keep track of the individuals I particularly want to connect with and comment on their most recent posts easily.
Facebook, on the other hand, lets you save your favorite group as shortcuts in the left-hand sidebar, making it easy to click through them and see what you’ve missed without having posts flood your newsfeed. You can also follow certain people and turn on notifications for posts you want updates on.
Join the online business community! I curated a list of inviting, inclusive Facebook groups, Instagram hashtags, and paid masterminds and communities that you can join right now.
One of my favorite things to do is to surprise people with things I know they’ll love. It’s a huge part of why I look forward to the holidays: I love finding gifts for my family and friends.
This extends to my clients. It tickles me when they email me their thanks when I send them a “just because” card, or when they express their glee over a project proposal that goes over the top for them.
And you know what? This response costs me, at most, a few bucks, and it an excellent way to strengthen my relationships with the wonderful people I work with all year round.
What I’ve decided to do is to automate reminders for my surprises. Events like birthdays and business anniversaries are entered into my calendar, with a reminder set a week before so I have time to send out a little something digitally or IRL. Those dates are all entered now, and they’re ready to go from now through the end of time.
God bless Google Calendar, yo.
The month of November is NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month. I’m not quite ready to write a novel, but I decided to set myself a writing challenge all the same.
This month, I’m trying to publish one blog post each day for 30 days straight. I came into the month not knowing if I could accomplish my goal, and we’re a third of the way through and I still don’t know if I’ll make it to the end having published 30 blog posts.
Having made it this far, I know that I can consistently write about 3,000 words a day, whether it’s for myself or for my clients, and be able to do that most days. Three thousand words is two or three blog posts, which means that by writing that much each week, I’ll be giving myself marketing options. I could update the blog, here, weekly, and submit other posts as guest posts. I could publish here twice a week. I could publish here three times a week! I could slowly write an e-book or an e-course. I could write smaller downloadable products.
All of these options are good. All of them will help me achieve my larger business goals. And all of them are imminently doable.
I killed this goal! I blogged every single day for 30 days during the month of November. Here's what I learned (and how I didn't go stark raving mad halfway through).
I’ve noticed that I always remain revved up and excited to work hard when I’m holding myself accountable in a public way. Earlier this year, I posted nightly “what I did” vs “what I wanted to do” updates on Instagram. This month, I’m posting a daily wordcount. Next month, I'm posting a list of the posts I've revised every weekday.
There’s something about knowing that this post is coming at the end of the day that pushes me to keep going and to get my to-dos done. And, when I have a bad day, I can look back at what I accomplished the day before and feel less guilty about the stuff I’m pushing aside.
I’m not sure if I’ll keep posting daily wordcounts when I’m not publishing daily blog posts. I think I might alternate the theme of the accountability posts from month to month. I’m sure the “did” vs “didn’t” posts will return, and I also like the idea of posting a quote that sums up my work or attitude for the day. Maybe a song lyric? We’ll see!
Keep up with my to-do's and not-done's on Instagram. Follow me @seebrittwrite.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.
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