Here we are: another year rapidly coming to a close and a fresh one about to begin. Depending on when you read this, maybe yours has already begun. Pop quiz: What notable goals did you accomplish this past year? Not what you did, but what progress did you make? What significant goals did you achieve? What assets were developed or obtained?
I’m sure you were busy, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Did you implement things to make your business more sustainable, strong, and efficient? What new products and services did you launch? What new marketing oil wells are now locked in place, pumping, and producing for you daily? What key metrics did you improve? Did you build and develop your team, or was it one step forward, two steps back?
Here’s a bigger question: Did you even set goals for this year? If not, it’s never too late. Stop reading right now and grab a pen and a piece of paper. Write ’em down. Make a list. Oh, is that so simplistic and stupid you won’t do it?
Too many people live their lives on autopilot. You wake up about the same time every day, then click into your routine. You shower, drink coffee, and check email, maybe in reverse order. You show up to work and react to whatever is in your inbox. You have no plan for the day, no goals, and no productivity measurements. Rinse and repeat. That day repeats itself for 10, 20, or even 30 years until you look in the mirror one day and realize you’re old but still not accomplished.
My question for you is simple: What are you going to do about that? Right now. This minute. Are you going to wait for inspiration? For a checklist? For tomorrow morning or next week when you have less to do? Be careful in this decision. What you do right now reveals a lot about who you are and why you are where you are today, good or bad.
A big reason many people don’t make New Year’s resolutions is because they’ve given up. Far too often, they’ve “cried uncle” to themselves and failed to follow through. At some sad point, they stop trying, just like the sad story of the elephant chained to the ground, held only by a small wooden stake. When it was young and very small, the trainers tied one of its legs to a strong stake in the ground. Struggle as it may, it couldn’t break the chain, and it eventually gave up trying to break free. Now that it’s grown 10 times its original size, the elephant could easily pull the stake out of the ground, but it doesn’t because it “knows” trying to break free is futile. It’s accepted its fate.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” I’ve thought a lot about that quote. I don’t think it means they necessarily have bad lives. In many ways, they live very well — a nice home, food to eat, healthy kids, and an income to sustain them. I believe this desperation comes from your conscience, a voice deep down that you choose to ignore that whispers, “You could be more and do more, but you don’t.”
Many choose to eat, drink, smoke, or otherwise drown out that voice by distracting it, ignoring it, or stuffing it way down. You can try to escape it, but like a low-grade fever, it’s still there, making you feel miserable. The price you pay for such escape and ease is an ever-growing, living hell.
Might I suggest that this year, you “wake up” and take a hard, serious look at your own mortality and how many years you’ve got left. Figure out what’s not working for you and fix it. You don’t need a grandiose, flamboyant attempt to go all-out, but rather, a daily, inch-by-inch, step-by-small-step, incremental improvement plan. What can you do today to be 1% better than you were yesterday? Maybe you eat one healthy meal or take a 10-minute walk if that’s all you can manage. Maybe you send one prospecting email this week or take 30 minutes to work on your marketing. It’s a start. Perhaps that 30 minutes will eventually turn into one hour, then two, and then perhaps a whole day. Such change builds on itself and gives you a critical key to success: momentum.
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