It happens every year. We outline ambitious goals. We set our sights high. We tell ourselves we are motivated to get things done and we establish a calendar to prove to ourselves that we are organized enough to really do it. And in the beginning we do. We kick off every New Year with the best of intentions, ready to start it with our best foot forward. So why is it that come February, we don’t stick to the very program we created? How is it that our New Year’s resolutions get swept under the rug and forgotten about?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to myself, “This year will be different!” And yet when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it usually isn’t. But in 2017 I’ve come to an important realization — if you want change to stick, you need it to become habit. In his insightful book entitled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg exposes how habits work. Through his research, he uncovered that 40 percent of the actions people perform each day aren’t actual decisions, but habits. He explains that, “Habits emerge when patterns are predictable — when our brains learn to crave a specific reward at a specific moment.” He continues by explaining that, “Cravings are what drive habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.”
That means that if you want to make sure to commit to lasting change, you need to: first, believe that change is possible; second, replace bad habits with good ones, and third, find a way to reward yourself for that change. Duhigg says, “Keystone habits transform us by creating cultures that make clear the values that, in the heat of a difficult decision or a moment of uncertainty, we might otherwise forget.” In other words, when the new habit takes hold, it’s there for good.
So now that you know you need your resolution to become a habit in order for you to stick with it, what’s on your New Year’s resolution list? Here are our top picks for 2018:
Put yourself first
In today’s business world, it’s easy to get swept up in the daily grind. We’re all busy all the time — so much so that we forget how important it is take care of ourselves. It’s crucial not to neglect your health and well-being; that means getting enough sleep each night, exercising regularly and eating well-balanced meals instead of eating at your desk (or skipping them altogether). By taking care of yourself, you’ll also be taking better care of your business because you’ll make better decisions. So it’s a win-win scenario no matter how you look at it. This is especially the case if you work from home. If you can make sure to truly disconnect when you’re work day is over, you’ll find that you’re productivity will actually increase.
Keep the big picture in sight
Setting out small milestones can help you work your way to a larger goal. Making sure not to lose sight of that goal is essential. When it comes to marketing, we often find, however, that some companies can’t see the forest for the trees — the quarterly goal is the only one in sight. Many don’t even seem to have an overarching coherence to their strategy from one quarter to the next! If you want to take your company from point A to point B, you need a proper roadmap of how to get there. As a marketer, that means outlining all of the tactics that can be used to complement one another along the journey. Keeping that bigger picture in mind will help you measure success differently, instead of just pushing for the “quick fix.”
Clean out your closet
As is true in your personal life, being organized and cleaning off your desk in your professional one is a great way to start the New Year off with a fresh perspective. Cleaning out your closet can also mean organizing other aspects of your business life — such as conducting a thorough data scrub, preparing the launch of a new initiative, or archiving old files that just get in the way. Get rid of what you don’t need! My mother always used to say to me “If you haven’t used something in a year, then you don’t need it.” The same rule should apply in business.
Just say NO
In a customer-centric global business world it’s not easy to say no. We’ve been raised to believe that “the customer is always right”, and that service-oriented businesses require employees to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to satisfy even the most difficult of clients. But the fact of the matter is that this is simply not true. It’s much better to say no to a client than to commit to something you cannot do well. In my own experience, clients appreciate honesty and transparency. Being able to say no is also a way to establish trust — it shows clients that you are not willing to risk your reputation doing something that you are not sure you can deliver on.
Set aside time for creativity
Email and Skype have got to be the biggest killers of creativity known to man. For me, they are both constant interrupters. If you are trying to create something new, it’s best to block a couple hours at a time where you can turn off all distractions and avoid interrupting the creative process. Don’t be afraid to do this, especially if you are writing content. Not losing your train of thought will help keep the creative juices flowing and enable the process to be completed faster.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As I have said on numerous occasions, you can have it all without having to do it all yourself. Finding a reliable outsourcer is a good way to help pick up the slack during peak periods of the year when you need more helping hands than what you have available in-house. Using external vendors (especially for marketing) can also help you move your initiatives forward faster, and with a greater skill-set than you may be able to hire (and train) yourself. And, it may also help you reduce costs at the same time.
No matter what your personal goals are for 2018, make sure not to forget about your professional goals as well. Having a holistic approach to managing your work-life balance will make a difference that you can stick with.