So you’ve set your 2020 goals. Now what?

This is the season when the internet lights up with countless articles about yearly goal-setting. That’s something we started with our clients around September/October so they’re already well-prepared to crush 2020.

If that’s not where you’re at today, don’t despair.

However, setting goals for the year is just the beginning.  Only 8% of New Year’s resolutions get achieved according to Forbes

I usually start the year by saying, I’m going to take time every day to eat lunch. And I do it for about a week. And then somebody asks if they can book at 1 PM, and I say yes. And then someone books at 12. And suddenly, all reasonable times to eat lunch are booked over for weeks and I’m back to fishing Luna bars out of my filing cabinet.

It’s really hard to go from Never Lunch to Always Lunch. Part of the reason I’m bad at lunch goals is that it’s a permanent, every day change that isn’t in my habit loops. I don’t have a place that I go. I don’t have thing that I eat. I am unwilling to spend $14 a day for salad. My regular shopping list is focused on lunch for a 4-year-old. I have to consciously consider what I want for lunch every day, which takes up mental space. Just writing this gave me Lunch Overwhelm.

It’s the same when we try to go from where we are today to something a lot more advanced. Resolutions usually involve a leap, and that leap takes us right off a cliff.

I’ll help you avoid this situation, here’s how…

How to reach your goals

We start the year with lofty goals. Goals are easy to set, but implementing the steps to make them happen is hard. Here are 3 tips I tell my clients so they can stay motivated to reach their goals.

Tip #1: Be 10% better.

We love to go big. But often, it’s better to walk before you run. You can walk for longer and go further than if you pushed yourself harder. So pick something with a high likelihood of success in a shorter period of time.

Focus on areas where small improvements add up. 10% higher checkout conversion. 10% better step conversion. 10% fewer customer service inquiries. 10% faster processes.

You might ask, is that even worth it when you have 2x, 3x, 4x revenue in mind? 10% better works because you usually can brainstorm a successful solution that’s doable in a concise amount of time. It’s a problem you can solve. Smaller improvements build your skills. You get wins, which encourage you to keep going. You collect data and get better at asking questions. And, I bet you can think of a LOT of things that could be 10% better. It’s easy to pick something and get started.

Tip #2: Go for Smart Wins

Is doubling your revenue the right goal? Are you asking how much it costs to generate that money? How much time, people, and stress? How will you deliver at that level?

I asked a client this question last year. She wanted to increase revenue by 50% so she could pay herself more. But in looking at her projects, we were able to meet that goal by increasing her unit margins by 2%. That’s two-dot-zero percent. What that meant was we found a way to spend less money to deliver the same quality at the same price. The solution cost us almost nothing and was a smarter way to deliver. It actually made her clients happier. And that was ultimately what increased her revenue, more profitably.
You don’t need to be bigger for the sake of being bigger, especially if you’ve self-funded your business. Look for ways to work smarter. Negotiate better pricing. Implement a referral program. Reduce your merchant fees. Improve your credit score. Find ways to get paid faster. Keep 2% more margin.

Identify the right goal by considering why you want to achieve it and what your end goal is. Is there another way? This approach will help you grow sustainably and improve the overall health of your business.

Tip #3: Change the Goal

What’s your favorite food? Could you eat it every day? Exactly that thing, every day, forever? My guess is, no matter how much you love burritos, you might want something else from time to time. But my other guess is, if you set a goal of eating Chipotle 100 days a year, you could probably do it.

So what’s the difference? One goal is a blanket resolution: I will only eat burritos. It’s a chore. Burritos, again, always burritos. The other is more of a challenge with milestones: I will eat Chipotle for 100 days. That’s about 8 times a month. And you could build a pattern, a habit, around that. It’s your Monday and Friday thing. You eat two burritos a weekend. Maybe you get that on rails and add in Wednesdays.

If it’s something you have to do every day, it starts to feel like a chore. If it’s a periodic challenge, you want to win in the time allowed. So keep your goals fresh and progressive. Try for 5% better in the first month. Try 5% over that then next month or quarter. Then go for 10%. But maybe check with your doctor before you go for 100 days of burritos.

What to do when you’ve gone off track

If you find yourself off-track, first of all, don’t panic — it happens to the best of us. Here’s how to get back on track…

First, forgive yourself. You have to go at least a little out of your comfort zone to make a meaningful change. And that means mistakes. Take what you can learn from the mistake and start again.

Secondly, ask for help. If you’re overwhelmed by feelings of how this could have happened, feel like you’ve failed, or just can’t quite get back on track, talk to someone. Start with a peer. If hearing how they screwed up doesn’t break your funk, it’s probably not the business that’s got you down. If you’re laughing at your friend’s thing but still stuck on how to course correct operationally, ask a business pro. In my coaching, I ask how and why you’re doing things. We put together a roadmap of what to do, in order, by month, to reduce the thinking and what-ifs and get back to doing.