January is the Month of Resolutions & Fresh Starts
We all look to January as the time to clear our slate of the prior year, make plans for what we want the New Year to look like, and to set goals for our business/career, health, lifestyle and finances. While some are successful carrying out their plans, sadly most are not. The 3 tactics below will help you finally be successful this year if you integrate them into your planning.
Create a New Habit Around Your Goal:
Setting a goal such as losing 20 lbs, paying off debt or getting your business finances in order are awful goals! Yes, you heard right. They are awful because they do not involve any type of plan of how you will change your habits that caused these issues in the first place. The best bet for success in reaching your goal is to create a measurable & realistic result, supported by a new habit in a time period that is long enough to have it become part of your routine.
Following this advice I was finally able to start and continue a daily plan of flossing at 42 years old. For all you dentists out there, I know I should have been doing it forever but I never seemed to have time. I came upon Dr. BJ Fogg's Tiny Habits website and found some great advice and studies about habits. One of his main premises is that you need to make it impossible not to do the activity that you want to become a habit. Re-frame, think outside the box, add triggers....whatever it takes.
In the business world, this might look like creating a money date with yourself to review your numbers and update your bookkeeping, or setting scheduled times each day/week to write, or handle your social media. Whatever it is, make the habit smaller than you first choose and think outside the box for ways, places and times that will help you to maintain the new habit for long enough that it becomes a part of your daily routine.
Don't Plan More Than 90 Days Ahead:
You can even start with 60 days instead of 90. The theory behind this is well documented by numerous studies that reveal if you can start and keep up with a new habit for 90 days then you are likely to maintain it for the long term. Missing a day here and there is not habit ending. The people who are successful pick up the next day and keep moving forward.
Be sure to have a system to track your progress, such as a calendar where you mark off each day that you complete the new habit, a journal where you record your habits or even an electronic app that helps you track your progress. Whatever system you use, it needs to show you how much progress you have made with a running total of your performance. This makes it so much harder to skip a day when it will break your streak of success!
This piece of the puzzle is huge for most of us. We try to tell ourselves that we don't need to be externally motivated to reach our goals or to create our new habits. This is true once we get past the critical point in the habit formation process, but when we are starting out why not use the peer pressure or loving reminders we can get from a friend, group or spouse to keep us moving in the right direction? I look at it as if I were fighting a fire; would you choose to only use a fire extinguisher if you had a whole fire truck at your disposal? Same thing applies here.
Many entrepreneurs are missing the accountability piece as they are too busy and end up working alone in their home offices with little or no outside support. Be sure to seek out support in a form that works for you - Chamber of Commerce, local meetups, regular coffee dates with another business owner, online programs etc. The form it takes does not matter. Doing it does!
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If finances and taxes are one of your goals to which you need a fresh start, don’t hesitate to reach out for help! I’ve helped many an entrepreneur with their taxes and then establish an easy plan to stay on track in the years to come.