The one thing you can do today to reap immense benefits in your business
How can I achieve my goals
when the end of the year is just a blur?
In December, I find that people tend to think “the year is almost over now anyway”. They have great intentions that everything is going to change on the 1st January: the perspective of New Year’s Resolutions gives them a powerful boost of enthusiasm and determination.
However, if you actually start your New Year’s Resolutions in December, the good habits you want to create will already be ingrained by the time most other people are just starting! All you need is to take just one step.
A number of years ago I was asked to speak on the theme of “The Power of One” for an International Womens’ Day Conference. Milestone discussions like these often come up with each passing season: “How can I make the summer count?” “What could I do when the kids go back to school until Christmas?” “I’m going to focus on passing this exam in the next three months.”
Your good old calendar is a productivity rocket
Rather than wait for one of these external triggers, you can create your own 1st January. One tool that I use all the time when asking “How can I achieve my goals” is my calendar – it is extremely effective.
Today is the perfect time to dial up your productivity.
Why is now such a great time to ramp up your productivity?
– because it’s exactly one month away from this day next month. I’m not just stating the obvious: one month is a good, solid piece of time to achieve something truly meaningful.
– because all we have is today; we don’t know if we are going to have the same resources tomorrow. Moreover, future opportunities could be waiting for you – but only if you start building the foundations today.
– because anybody that’s ever succeeded at anything took action today and didn’t wait until tomorrow.
If it’s December, it’s a fantastic time to ask people for coffee or lunch, or to follow up on a project that has been languishing on your to-do list for a while. These activities are also crucial and will set you up for an amazing new year: a relaxed, rambling conversation with a contact or client might yield crucial insights and new ideas that are potential game-changers.
If it’s January to May, there are new budgets to be spent, and Q1 milestones are the perfect “carrot” to pursue with vigour and enthusiasm. Energy is high and it moves in step with the reawakening of spring to longer days, greener trees and the wonder of possibility. It’s the time to execute strategy and make plans yield fruit, after the boardroom discussions of past seasons.
If it’s the summer, the events calendar slows down and people are generally more relaxed, so they will likely have more time to think about your proposals, take that phonecall or have that meeting. The media go through “silly season” and producers and journalists are more likely to consider your content because they are on the lookout for next season’s news.
If it’s September to November, businesses are in full gear making things happen. It’s an exciting flurry of sales, meetings, deliverables, operational productivity. The minds of executives are totally tuned into what’s going on in the marketplace, evaluating competitors, carving their niche in the market and seeking the next opportunity. If you can help them to do that, they’re completely in the frame of mind for you to synch in and engage with a great value proposition.
And then it starts all over again, when each new day creates a new possibility.
How to leverage your calendar to put a spring in
Take a quiet half hour or a couple of hours and ask yourself:
What can I realistically achieve between now and the end of the year? What would I feel really good about achieving between now and then?
Between today and one month from now, there’s a lot you can achieve. Whenever I mention this “January 1” sleight-of-hand to audiences, I love to witness the change in physiognomy: they sit up straighter and there is that look on their faces – excitement at all the possibilities. Yearly goals, 5-year goals are great, but they’re more useful as a general compass. They don’t recreate the same sense of positive urgency, of specific potential and excitement that the next month holds. I love to sit down in a café with an Americano (where would I be without my Americanos I wonder!) and strategise.
As I sip my coffee I write down around ten things that I want to achieve and I attribute them to ten working days, with room for maneuver in case something comes up. In The Savvy Guide to Making More Money, I talk about the untold power of a discrete period of time: it becomes easier and even more inspiring to work towards a goal if you have a deadline, as a deadline gives you heightened focus.
Let me give you some ideas for ten actions you can take next month:
- Reach out to your top five customers and ask them to meet for a coffee to catch up and say thank you for the business.
- Think about events that you’re going to in the next month and ask some of your contacts if they would like to come along.
- Work out the profit per product or profit per customer and see what you could do to improve.
- Put a big goal through the GROW model and take three steps forward.
- Write a blog post.
- Think about a media angle, write a short press release and send it to media contacts.
- Apply for an award or a grant.
- Put a system in place to boost your productivity.
- Review the costs you take for granted and identify if there is a better way.
- Find an industry conference that would be super-useful and plan a way to get the funding, the goals you would like to achieve and a wider plan.
- Brainstorm about who you could help.
- Write a newsletter to send out to all of your clients and business contacts.
- Examine your personal brand and ask people why they buy from you, so that you can refresh your message.
- Register for three networking events.
- Find an accountability partner.
- Consider if you could be using the cashflow of your home and business better.
- Reach out to the agencies who can help you with your business.
- Examine how your business is setting you up for retirement.
- Contact a mentor and ask them to meet for lunch to bounce some ideas around.
- Think about how you could adapt your current offering to another market to broaden business opportunities.
One does make a difference
If you haven’t been convinced of the power of one action already, then think about the impact that just one person can make in a world of 7 billion?
It took only one woman to take on the project of wowing the Eurovision audience in 1994. Moya Doherty created a 6 minute 30 second event that caused more headlines than the entire event itself, has turned it into a showbusiness wonder where three shows concurrently tour the globe and created a worldwide fascination with Irish dancing.
It took only one lonely woman, newly divorced, with a small baby and living on social benefits, to write one of the most successful sagas of all times: J.K. Rowling might have decided that she needed to stop writing and daydreaming and get serious about finding a job that would pay the bills. Instead, she decided to keep the faith and write Harry Potter. Her first Harry Potter book was rejected by twelve publishers before Bloomsbury gave her a lukewarm reception. Her editor at Bloomsbury even told her that she’d never make any money writing children’s books. She is now an international superstar. What if she had given up and hadn’t sent her manuscript just one more time?
There are names right throughout history of people who literally changed the world and attitudes to it: Ghandi, John Hume, Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs and so many others. You already have all you need to do something spectacular with one period of time; if you have the attitude, the role models, the vision, the determination and the willingness to act, the sky really is the limit…
Just one more
Never, ever discount your efforts: every little helps. Every one action you take might be the one that turns the tide.
I was still a student in college when, shortly before I graduated, I was asked to give a ten-minute presentation about how to be successful in the stock market on International Women’s Day. An undergraduate, still wet behind the ears, giving a paltry ten-minute presentation? Nothing to get very excited about, is it? Well, in the audience was one woman, the senior features editor of the Evening Herald. After the presentation she emailed me to ask me to write an article.
That one article led to radio interviews with Dublin City FM, LMFM and 4 FM – and this last one even led to my getting the name “the Positive Economist”. What if I had thought that one presentation wasn’t very important and nobody would be interested since I was only a student? What if I had neglected to prepare for it thoroughly, thinking it was only a short speech? After all, it was only one presentation; I would get another chance, right?
It is easy to feel that all your efforts amount to nothing. Why send yet another press release? Yet another email to reach out to yet another person you met at yet another networking event?
Because that one press release, that one email, that one contact might be the one that will snowball into a world of opportunities if you keep the momentum behind it. If you’re wondering if that twelfth proposal will be any more successful than the eleven that were rejected, maybe the twelfth might just be tweaked to perfection… precisely because you spent so much time honing the previous eleven.
Start small, pick just one thing. You will be amazed at the power of one.
Are you on the list?