3 Easy Steps to Turn Your New Year's Resolutions Into Powerful Goals

A small business team setting goals

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A resolution is a decision to do something that will improve your life or your situation in some way. In your business, you may resolve to become more focused on sales, to become more productive or to expand your team. There are many types of resolutions small business owners can make. But a decision on its own is meaningless. It's when you create a plan that focuses on obtaining the desired results of your decision that the magic happens.

There are a lot of ways to create goals. You can use the SMART goal methodology; you can work backwards, or you can use goal setting apps to outline the process. Regardless of the path you take, the process for turning a resolution into an outcome-focused goal needs to accomplish several things. Here are the steps you need to take to turn your resolutions into actionable goals.

Step 1. Identify the Desired Results

Let's say your small business resolution is to become a better communicator. To determine what the desired result will be, think about what impact you want your resolution to have in your business. What will becoming a better communicator do for you? Will it reduce misunderstandings with your employees, improve team morale or help you improve productivity by communicating more effectively the first time?

Be as specific as possible about what you want the result of your resolution to be. You may have just one result, or it may be a combination of things that will make up the desired outcome of your resolution.

Step 2. Outline the Actions You Need to Take

Now that you know what the outcome will look like, how will you achieve it? Each of your desired results should be lined up with individual actions. To reduce misunderstandings with your employees, for example, you need to communicate information thoroughly, clearly and in a timely manner.

What do you need to do in order to accomplish this result? Perhaps you need to take a leadership/communication class or read a book about better communication with employees in order to improve your skills in this area. Or maybe, you need to create a checklist of things that have to happen in order to effectively communicate to your team (i.e., making a verbal announcement, sending a follow-up email recap to the announcement, asking employees to relay their understanding back to you, giving your team a chance to provide feedback, checking in consistently, etc.) 

Repeat this process, outlining each action for every desired result that supports your resolution.

Step 3. Create a Timeline for Each Action

In order to make progress and ensure your resolution sticks, it can be very helpful to align each action with a due date. This keeps you moving forward and allows you to build momentum (it also keeps your resolution on your mind consistently). Prioritize your action items, and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get each one completed. If an action has multiple steps, try to estimate a timeline for each step. It's also a good idea to build in time for checkpoints where you can review your progress and make any modifications you may need to keep moving forward. 

Following these three steps, you can turn any resolution into an achievable goal for your small business.