The new year is a time that entrepreneurs look forward to. They get to wipe the slate clean and start the year with a fresh vision, strong goals and aspirations and a drive to do the impossible. It's an opportunity to get off the "entrepreneur roller coaster," as coined by author Darren Hardy, and have a glimpse into life as a successful and stable business owner.
That, my fellow entrepreneurs, encompasses January 1 through to the 3. After that, there is a strong possibility that you will find yourself back on the roller coaster. Dealing with the same fires that you were dealing with prior to the holidays, the same complaints, the same energy sucking situations that drove you to enjoy each and every cocktail offered over the holiday season.
What can we as entrepreneurs do to ensure that that we don't fall into the same routine which led us to this roller coaster in the first place?
1) Create Four Big Goals for the Year.
Don't decide your goal is to quadruple sales in January. Set attainable goals with realistic outcomes. Set one goal per quarter and make that goal something that will help drive your business forward and add a new value. Ensure that those goals have a way of being measured. Whether it's the hiring of a key role or a new product that you are hoping to develop, these overarching goals give you something to focus on when you might otherwise be scrolling through someone's Facebook wall.
2) Break Down Goals into Bite-Sized Pieces.
Let's assume one of your goals is the hiring of a key person. That step can be overwhelming, so break it down into a series of small steps that can be accomplished over a short period of time.
Broken down, the tasks seem very manageable and can be spread out over several days to ensure you don't get overwhelmed.
See the new year as an opportunity to remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place.
3) Change Your Routine.
We all have a routine. Get to the office, check email, put out fires, make lists of things to do that don't actually make us feel like we have accomplished anything. I like to refer to routines as ruts. These are things we do every day, in the same order, day after day. No wonder we lose motivation! How can you possibly do the exact same thing everyday and stay motivated?
Challenge yourself to do one thing differently per week. Try ignoring emails until 10 a.m. or commit to making sales calls before the office day has officially started. Wake up at 5 a.m. and exercise, take daily walk breaks. Do whatever it takes to change up your routine and stay energized and motivated.
4) Create a Vision Board.
I know it sounds hokey, but it helps and it certainly can't hurt. As an entrepreneur, I have a vision for whom I want to be and what I want to accomplish, but on certain days it's hard to see past the chaos of the roller coaster.
Commit to creating a vision board. It does not have to be an artistic masterpiece. It simply has to be filled with things that make your heart race a bit faster and you energize you. From success stories, to visuals of the future you dream of, stick it on the board!
There are even great websites that let you add pictures of yourself to magazine covers which make for fantastic inspirations. I've added myself to the cover of Fortune magazine for my one my visuals for the year... you never know, crazier things have happened!
See the new year as an opportunity to remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. While it's a difficult, challenging, mentally exhausting and stressful life choice, it's also the opportunity to prove just how incredible your business idea is. Put everything you've got into it because if you don't do it, there's always a competitor out there willing to take on the challenge.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost:
Take the time at the beginning of the year to go through your mailing lists and unsubscribe from all but the essentials, Lisa Gasson of New York suggests. It’s a good way to clear out inbox clutter, and also to reduce shopping temptation from constant emails from merchants. Try using Unroll.me to unsubscribe easily and keep things manageable going forward.
Take some of the time you spend mindlessly poking around on the internet and spend it with an actual book, says Megan Hamilton of Ontario. That’s her resolution for the coming year, and she’s solicited suggestions from friends for recent favourites to add her her library list.
After a couple of tough years for the her own health and that of her family, Carol-Ann Cole of Newfoundland and Labrador decided to cut out the little things she couldn’t control, including those to do with the lives of other people. "I try now to not gossip -- well, maybe just a little juicy stuff, ha ha -- and just live each day happy and healthy,” Cole says. "So far it’s working and I feel so much happier and contented."
Dry skin getting you down? That’s worth a small resolution all on its own, especially during Canada’s dry winters. "After making big, thought-out resolutions -- and then feeling stress and guilt about not keeping them -- about 15 years ago, I resolved to put lotion on everyday after showering,” says Erika Serviss-Low of the Yukon. “Easy to do, no guilt, and -- after scratching my skin raw and frantically searching for lotion by mid-day -- life changing."
Jenny Hinko Polischuk of Alberta picks a theme for her family for each year and focuses on that instead of a specific resolution. "Our theme was to 'CHOOSE HAPPY’!,” she says of their 2015 theme. "I got it printed in vinyl and put it up on a wall in our kitchen. I also found a great print on Etsy and framed it. To kick it off we brainstormed as a family situations where we consciously have to choose happiness. We put that up in our mud room about 3 feet high so my little women could see it."
Instead of picking a resolution that restricts or removes something, pick something that adds joy to your life. "I do ones that make me feel good, not that are challenges,” Julia Cain of New Jersey says of her resolutions. "'Say yes to travel,' for example, which will be a continuing resolution this year, or 'snuggle with babies as much as possible.’"
If you do want to make a list of things to accomplish this year, break it all into a very specific itemized list—maybe 101 items for the year, or a number that makes sense for you. "those worked really well because they were incremental and accumulative,” says Lisa Schmeiser of California of her itemized lists for the year, "so by the end of the year, I had momentum and completed tasks on my side."
"One of my students gave me great advice: Make three tiers of resolutions,” says Vanessa Vakharia of Ontario. Make the first tier something easy to immediately implement, like wearing eyeshadow or flossing daily. Get a bit higher-concept for tier two: a promise to run regularly, for example. And then think big for the third, like finishing your degree or planning a major trip. "I think it's a good way to level goals out so that you can get instant gratification, which motivates you to work towards those higher level goals,” she says.
"I don't know if they're resolutions, but every year I go back and assess how I'm doing as far as becoming the person I want to be,” says Carolyne Whelan. Think about how you respond to strangers, your friends and family, how you treat yourself, and the way you move about in the world. "Obviously there is a lot of tweaking, but since it's all a learning process with a wide curve, every year just presents the opportunity to be closer to the person I want to spend all my time with,” she says.
What’s something you enjoy, that is easy to do and adds a bit of light to your day? Pick something, then do more of it! "A few years ago, my only resolution -- after years of the same 'lose ten pounds, learn Spanish, write a novel' flailed if not failed -- was 'sing more,’” says Paige Conner Totaro of Virginia. "I did and it felt great. The next year it was 'dance more.’"
Is there something you need to do, even want to do, that you keep finding a way to get around or avoid or not actually work on? Stop doing that, and just do the work—every day, over and over, says Jennifer Polk of Ontario. You’ll get a lot more done if you put the energy you spend worrying, procrastinating, avoiding, and over-planning into just doing. "Everything's better when you do the work,” she says.
Follow Sharon Vinderine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ptpaSharon