January 1st. The busiest day at the gym, the most Google searches for “diet”, and the beginning of all the other New Year’s resolutions people set for themselves. We all know most people fail at these goals, but everyone still makes them.
Why is that?
Because planning what you want to achieve is easier, sexier, and more fun than doing the work to actually get there.
So what happens? We fail a few weeks or months in.
Now don’t get me wrong, failing can be a good thing (even Seth Godin thinks so). But if you don’t learn anything valuable from your failures you will just have wasted your time, money, and energy.
And let’s face it, an “annual plan” is basically just business jargon for New Year’s resolution.
Anyone can write down their goals, but unless you can deliver on what you set out to do year in and year out (like Chris Guillebeau in his annual reviews), what’s the point?
In this post we’ll look at four ways you can keep your annual plan from failing.
Something I’ve been hearing more and more of lately is that success comes from two things: consistency and perseverance.
And consistency just comes down to developing positive habits, both personally and professionally.
(If you are like me and have trouble keeping the habits you create, check out what Leo Babauta recommends you to do avoid failing at habits.)
For your business or blog, this consistency could come in any number of ways:
- Amount of content published each week
- What day & time you publish each week
- Logical pricing of products & services
Trick to Avoid Reason #1: When you’re setting an annual plan, pick some goals that you can make consistent progress on and build a pattern of habits to stick with them.
A year is a really long time, so sometimes we set goals and milestones we can barely fathom reaching.
While it is important to have those bigger stretch goals (like revenue, visits, subscribers, etc.), you should make short-term goals that you can actually reach in a week or two.
As Corbett, Chase and I are building Fizzle.co we break down our tasks into “two week sprints”. Every other week we set out to achieve certain deliverables, milestones, or fixes and then check them off the list.
By staying near-sighted you can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by what comes next.
Yes, we have longer term goals and ambitions, but if you can’t deliver in the short-term then end goals are pointless.
Trick to Avoid Reason #2: Set and track short-term or “sprint” goals alongside your year-long goals.
Goals can make you go crazy. Especially if you make ones that aren’t measurable. (What “shape” am I supposed to get into? A triangle?)
So even if you pick goals that are measurable like losing 20 pounds, gaining 1,000 subscribers, or earning twice as much money, you’re still missing a step.
One of the biggest problems with the typical New Year’s resolutions is that even if they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound), they are NOT tied to specific actions you can take to get there.
A goal of gaining 1,000 subscribers to your site in 12 months is SMART, but how are you going to gain them? Where will they come from? Why will they sign up? What value will you provide them with?
Without a plan of action, a goal is just a wish. (Tweet this.)
Trick to Avoid Reason #3: For every goal you make, outline a plan of action with specific tasks you can take to help you reach that goal.
This may be the granddaddy of them all.
If no one knows what you are working towards, cares if you don’t do it, or calls you out if you quit, then chances are you will fail.
Like I mentioned at the start of this year, “The power of mastermind groups is not just in connections you make with your fellow peers. Accountability is the biggest reason.”
Trick to Avoid Reason #4: Don’t just put it all on your shoulders. Let other people help you stay on track with your goals.
What is your one big goal for this year? Let us know in the comments. (And if you’ve written publicly about your plan for next year feel free to link to it below.)