We are already well into 2015 already and the Christmas break feels like it almost never happened. Each year seems to start off the same: a slow first week and suddenly things pick up with violence in the second week. Then it’s all systems go.
That said, let’s not forget why we have New Year’s each year: it is an opportunity to push the reset button and set new and exciting goals the year ahead. For most people this is easier said than done. We tend to think of all the goals we failed to achieve last year. My advice? Get over it and keep setting those goals. Don’t get stuck on the failures of last year and look at what was accomplished.
The problem with goal setting is it tends to get swamped by the chaos of daily work and social pressures.
Goal setting as a way to break unwanted habits
I tend to look at goal setting as an opportunity to break unwanted habits. For example, spending too much time surfing the internet or Facebook. We know this is a waste of time. This is common to just about everyone I speak to. Well, the way I handle this is to set a simple policy: internet surfing is a leisure-time activity and I only allow it when I have completed the production for the day.
That, too, is easier said than done. You get to the computer screen in the morning and your immediate urge is to check the news and interesting articles that appeared overnight.
Bang! There you go. The next thing you are an hour into some mindless read that really isn’t getting you anywhere.
So the first job of the day is to list out the Battle Plan for the day (if you haven’t done it through the night). Who needs to be called?
Do those things first that will most immediately bring in income
I have found this to be a useful rule for getting started in the day. What are the things that will bring in income the quickest? Handle those first. Then work on the things that will bring in income a little slower. Get the pipeline humming. When you’re working on a deal, don’t wait for the client to phone you back. All people tend towards an immediacy bias. By that I mean they are most influenced by the last person they spoke to or dealt with. This is an important thing to remember. When it comes to job interviews, it has been shown that candidates who arrived later in the interview process tend to get shoved to the top of the shortlist. That’s because the interviewees have seen so many people, they tend to forget the people they encountered at the beginning of the process. (There’s a tip for those job hunting: try to get in at the tail end of the interview process).
Separate out income-earning and project work
Always work on those things that will produce income the quickest. But in doing this, you can overlook your longer-term goals. For example, you may want to learn French, take a kite-boarding class, climb the Himalayas, and make yourself $1 million. You want to write a book. You want it all, and you want it now. Nothing wrong with that.
These are great goals, and you need to write them down. How you achieve them is a different matter.
You achieve these goals by incremental progress in your daily activities. Set aside a few hours a week to study French (yes, there are free courses online for this, so you don’t even have to pay). Kite-boarding, well that means you will have to get yourself to a coastal resort somewhere, so we’ll out that off for a few months. Same with the Himalayas. Making yourself $1 million – you do that by incremental improvement in your daily and monthly production – which is really the only guarantee of increasing income.
Project work is that work which requires many weeks or months of build-up. This is not going to generate income right now. You must dedicate some time to these projects, but only once the daily production has been achieved. A good idea is to set aside a certain time in the week to go over these projects and advance them to the next step. But do not get stuck on these. I caused a major crash in my income by getting obsessed with a construction project I was involved in while ignoring the bread-and-butter issues that paid the bills. Projects are for after work.
But don’t ever ignore these projects. Do that and your life goals will slip by in the twinkle of an eye. By project work, I mean starting up a new company that you have been planning for the last several years, or setting aside the income you need to climb the Himalayas.
Avoid the get-rich quick schemes
Don’t get distracted by the get-rich-quick schemes that fly into your path. We tend to get mesmerised by those who just made a fortune doing what seems to be nothing. Not true. These types of deals do happen, but they happen to those who are in Power in whatever it is they are doing. Power is a unique operating condition. It is an affluence that has continued for some time to the point where it becomes the new normal. People in Power pull in all sorts of magnificent things. People in confusion do not.
So if you want good luck, keep doing what you are doing, but get better at it.
Reinforce the things that work, knock off the things that don’t
You know what it is you do that brings in income. You sent out a very light-hearted email to your clients and you got 7 responses. The previous week you sent out an email moaning about the electricity black-outs and no-one replied. Ok, so there is a lesson in this: people respond to light-hearted communications. Keep the conspiracies and moaning out of your work life. Get yourself noticed in positive ways. You’ve learned that positive communication is what brings in responses and leads. Do more of that and less of the moaning.
Handle your communications immediately
This is perhaps the one thing that I regard as the best measure of someone’s overall attitude to life and work. How quickly to they respond to my communications? In fact, I have a very workable rule that goes alongside this: if someone does not reply to my messages, ducks my calls, or takes days to come back, I cut them out. My communication lines are very open, but they are also sacred. I do not let anybody in. I found I am in a happier frame of mind if I do not have to deal with people who are slack in communications.
One person I know is a developer for an international company. He started out working for a very small fee, but he quickly established a reputation as someone who embodied professionalism. He answered all communications immediately. Even if aa message came through at 3am, he would answer it. The company very quickly saw his value and within 18 months had trebled his income.
My New Year’s resolutions?
I want to do all of the above, but better than I did last year. And I want to measure my improvement in actual production statistics and income.
Have a great year!