Happy Holidays from my family to yours. Last week I wrote about why you should Play By Your Own Rules in 2017. This week’s article is about getting yourself ready for 2017. I was asked to be a guest expert for a New York Post article, Do These 5 Things To Get Your Career In Tip-Top Shape. Instead of just sharing that article (see link above) with you I thought it would be fun for you to see what happens when a subject matter expert gets asked to contribute content to a publication. Basically, you either get interviewed over the phone or the columnist emails you their questions and you reply. Then they strip it down, add a bunch of other guest experts you didn’t know they were going to and then all your insights get boiled down into 2 or 3 sentences.
So, for the sake of providing YOU with as much value as I possibly can and helping you set the trajectory for an awesome 2017. Here are my detailed answers to NY Post columnist Vicki Salemi’s questions:
Vicki: Thoughts on year-end being the perfect time to take stock of the past year, get organized and ramped up for the new year and more?
Bru: There are seasons to everything, natural busy seasons & off seasons, endings and beginnings. (Timely Ex. Retail is in-season Black Friday-New Years between holiday shopping, then returns and inventory) After the Holidays, the end of the year affords us the opportunity to reflect and shift gears setting our trajectory for the next season of life/business. *January comes from the Latin word Janus who was the Roman God who presided over doors and new beginnings. I encourage all business leaders to look back at the past year and determine their busy season and off-season (most people think they don’t have seasons until they ask their employees and also look at their weekly revenue to find trends over 3-5 years. Therein lies their “busy season”)
Ask yourself these 3 questions to take stock of 2016 and ramp up for a great 2017:
- List your 2 or 3 “big wins”, in other words what worked really well in 2016 and how can you continue it to carry those things forward into 2017?
- What do you need to stop doing and why? Set a plan to reduce then eliminate those things.
- What do you or want to start doing in 2017 that represents a shift or pivot from 2016? Not a huge shift, rather a subtle one. Time and time again I see with coaching clients that the better result they desire is usually achieved by them making small adjustments not sweeping changes.
Vicki: Revising their resume — why is this so important this time of year?
Bru: Why It’s SO Important: The best business leaders I coach are always looking for talent whether they have a hiring vacancy or not. They will create a position when they find a potential employee so valuable they don’t want the competition to hire them first.
Also, to protect our most valuable asset in business (our confidence) we should be documenting our successes both big and small in an ongoing basis. The big ones on our resume, the small ones in a daily success journal. The best job opportunities usually happen when you’re not looking for them or you’re not expecting them. With that in mind, it’s better (and easier) to stay ready than to get ready. While you’re updating your resume, update your electronic resume better known as your LinkedIn profile.
Vicki: Why is it so important to get taxes in order now and what should people do whether they’re self-employed or employed full-time? How much time will that take?
Bru: There’s an opportunity cost to everything, so unless your background is in accounting or you’re a CPA, doing your own taxes is a low value activity and you may be missing some deductions and write-offs you’re unaware of if you try to do it yourself. You don’t do your own dental work, surgery or represent yourself in court, what would make you think you’re more qualified and could do a better job on your taxes than an accountant? Spend your time engaged in revenue producing activities related to your and invest the money in hiring an accountant.
Vicki: How can clean out your desk ultimately result in boosted productivity? Any golden rules like if they haven’t used it in over a year, toss it? How much time should they carve out to clean their workspace?
Bru: By cleaning out your desk, eliminating files and going paperless you will gain more focus and clarity. Physical clutter creates mental clutter. I employ a 6 month rule with my desk, office, and closet. If I haven’t used it or worn it in 6 months I donate it to Good Will. Spend the last 15 minutes of your work day planning the next day and the last 5 minutes clearing your desk. It brings about a sense of closure to your work day so you don’t take the mental baggage of work home with you at night.
Vicki: What is the impact of doing that and being mindful, taking a step back from working to actually get organized?
Bru: Our work or business is just like fitness, meaning it’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape. The best investment you can make for the new year is to get and STAY organized.
Vicki: Same for planning 2017 vacations — why is this so important that people deliberately look at the calendar and their budget to make a pact with themselves to take time off?
Bru: The law of diminishing returns doesn’t just apply to economic theory, it applies to all of our jobs. Law of Diminishing Returns: Refers to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested. Look at your busy season, a vacation before or after that busy season is the perfect time to recharge your batteries. (A full week or more) Set an auto-responder on your email or automatically have it forwarded to a colleague who is covering you and leave your cell phone at home!
Small business owners can utilize a business credit card with airline and hotel reward points for all their purchases and expenses then redeem those flier miles and reward points to pay for those vacation expenses.
Vicki: Lastly, goal setting. What type of goals should they set — if you can reference SMART goals and holding themselves accountable, that would be great. *Note: (SMART goals is a popular acronym meaning Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-Bound.)
Bru: I agree with the specific and time-bound elements but SMART goals are dumb. I’m partial to what I call STUPID Goals. Why? Because I don’t think we should set realistic goals, I think we should be unrealistic and dream big. Shackelton’s expedition to the Antarctic wasn’t realistic neither was the Wright Brothers inventing air travel. Those were not SMART goals, people thought they were stupid because there was nothing attainable or realistic about their goal. They were each labeled crazy or delusional for setting those goals. Our goals should be so big others think we are delusional too and so big they actually scare us a little.
That’s how we know we are pushing our comfort zone in order to grow. Why unrealistic? Because with SMART goals more often it’s not that we set the bar too high and missed with goals, it’s that we set it too low and hit it. Nothing truly visionary and ambitious is every realistic, but with a plan and enough drive we can make it happen.
S pecific: Quantifiable or measurable (Ex. 10x your sales, triple your revenue)
T imebound: Create a timeline (When will you start to when will you finish, or Launch date to delivery of a new product)
U nrealistic: Make the goal so ambitious it scares you and pushes your comfort zone. (Ex. In 2015 mine was to get my book Seeds of Success adapted to a screenplay for a major Hollywood motion picture. And yes, it did happen.)
P rocess-Oriented: What specific daily activities and action steps do you need to take to progress?
I ncremental: Set benchmarks within the timeline, create a way to make small daily progress.
D reamworthy: Be more focused on why you are doing this than exactly what you’re doing. Is it so compelling it puts on you a mission? Does it help define your legacy or is it an important part of your destiny? It was for Shackelton and the Wright Brothers.
The key to achievement is public accountability and creating a meaningful consequence and reward system. www.Stickk.com is a great accountability website where you can set a goal and enlist the assistance of accountability partners in your network. You can also create a financial consequence for not hitting the incremental benchmarks. (Ex. On Aug 1 I set a goal on Stickk.com to lose 25lbs by Dec 25. Each week that I don’t text a screen shot of my weight (losing 1lb a wk) to my accountability partner, Stickk.com pings my credit card for $20. Which gets given to an anti-charity.)
Stay tuned, there’s more on my fitness journey in the Jan 2017 article titled “Coaches Need Coaches”. Happy holidays and best wishes for a great 2017.