We’re now into the third week of the new year, a time when many entrepreneurs find they are beginning to drift off course regardless of honest intentions.
Maybe you resolved to post on your blog more frequently or publish a monthly newsletter. Perhaps your plan is to finish your e-book by mid year but you’ve only written one chapter. Or, you vowed to get your work into 6 galleries. You’ve made a list of those you want to contact. When you searched their websites, you began to wonder if your work would sell and got sidetracked creating a line that might better fit those galleries.
If you are already slipping off course, you aren’t alone. Just look at the gym signups and how the crowds thinned out already.
For entrepreneurs, it doesn’t appear to be a problem of motivation. Judging by the comments I get from people who truly want to commit to launching or growing a business, it’s more the challenge to remain focused. If you are committed to accomplishing your business goals this year, I recommend you:
- Limit the number of short term goals. If you are like many creative people, you may have trouble accomplishing your business goals because you are easily sidetracked by new ideas. This is a huge challenge for me as well. I find it helpful to narrow my big goals to three at a time. When new ideas rush in and clamor for my attention, I remind myself that if I try to do too much, I won’t get anything done well. I commit to seeing three through to completion before I will address the others. If you do this, make a note of the ideas as they come to you and file them under “brilliant things I will do when I can give them the attention they deserve.”
- Get clarity on the reason your goals matter. What is the feeling you want to experience when you have accomplished each goal? What difference will it make in your life, the community or the world? Write out your “why” in detail and review it often.
- Create a vision board for your goals and post it where you see it daily. There’s something powerful about a physical image that helps reinforce the importance of your goal. It doesn’t have to be a work of art. Just make sure you have a vivid picture of what those goals accomplished will look and feel like.
- Celebrate small accomplishments. Those first baby steps toward your goals can be the hardest. Take note of milestones and celebrate them. Maybe you’ve made a list of a dozen galleries or shops you hope will feature your work. Once you’ve contacted the first four, congratulate yourself and honor the accomplishment. Have lunch with a friend or take a picnic to the park. Make it celebratory in a way that’s meaningful to you.
- At least in the beginning, stick to a schedule. To-do lists are fine but it’s easy to keep putting off items on the list. Instead, schedule certain days or times of day to do specific tasks toward your goal. If you know you want to publish a monthly newsletter, schedule a day each week that you work on it. If you know you want to post on your blog 3 times a week, make writing appointments on your calendar. I’m not advocating rigidity. You don’t have to schedule your tasks for 8-5 Monday through Friday. One of the perks of self-employment is being able to work around your own body rhythm so if you write best in the middle of the night, mark your calendar to write at 2 AM Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Then if something comes up that you want to do, adjust your schedule for one night. It’s OK to stay flexible. Just be accountable.
- Join a mastermind group or find an accountability buddy. In addition to the support, sharing of resources and idea generation, a mastermind group will give you a sense of accountability. When you know you have a phone conference scheduled every Wednesday at noon, you are more likely to stay on course to meet your goals for the week. You will feel a responsibility to your group so you will be sure to have accomplishments to report. Also, when you confront an obstacle that discourages you from moving forward towards your goal, you will have a team to help you overcome whatever the challenge is and get back on track.