Momentum.

We lose it. We gain it. Our pursuit of it differentiates progress from stagnation. And at no time is this more evident than at the end of a business cycle or at the end of the year.

Unfortunately, lack of momentum is the biggest reason why most New Year's resolutions fail. Flip-flopping that lesson, however, turns it into something effective and useful: rather than wait for a new year or a new cycle to start, plan and build momentum now toward your new business goals for 2019. 

Here are four steps you can take now, to get the new year off to a running start.

1. Recalibrate your technology, 30 minutes at a time.

Most of us have an improvement in mind around our use of technology, that we know will impact our business, whether through boosting sales or enhancing productivity or communicating more effectively about our services. Yet, we procrastinate on getting started, because the goal (and what it will take to get there) seems just too big and unwieldy.

That's when "30 minutes at a time" becomes your new best friend. As a spin instructor used to say in class right before she called for a set of jumps, "You can do anything for 30 seconds!" which is true (most of the time) plus you've now got momentum and adrenaline on your side. Outside the gym, I like to play with expanding that lesson to "You can do anything for 30 minutes," especially if it means making progress on a goal that seems out of reach.

Need to upgrade or fine-tune your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software? This week, set aside 30 minutes on three different days to comb through leads and threads. Do you think video will enhance your marketing outreach? Dedicate 30 minutes to explore video effects and stock footage on a site like videohive.net. Every time, keep an eye out for a reasonable objective of your next 30-minute window, in order to keep the momentum flowing.

You've probably heard the advice of breaking big goals into smaller do-able chunks, but I'm also a fan of breaking down the time it takes to make progress on those big goals. Remember, you can do anything for 30 minutes. Before you know it, you'll have moved from Point A to Point B.

2. Mark your calendars, in detail.

Deadlines for pivotal business objectives have, no doubt, been in your calendar for months if not years. But scheduling the on-the-ground events around the periphery of those objectives is just as important. Three examples that you'll want to be mindful of scheduling now include major industry conferences (and the travel days required to get you there, particularly if they're overseas), certifications you're pursuing (Woman Owned Small Business and Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business, or WOSB and EDWOSB, for instance, can take months to fully complete), and speaker invitations (as well as the time it will take to prepare your presentation).

By planning ahead, and allowing for more time than you think you may need, you're essentially scheduling in a cushion that will ease the stress of an over-committed calendar.

3. Identify your word of the year.

It's a popular idea, and for good reason. But it's rarely a split-second decision. In a quiet few minutes, brainstorm a list of possibilities and then, one by one, try them on for size. It could take a few hours or a few days but the point is that you want to give yourself the opportunity to get comfortable in the shoes of this word will help to shape and define the year ahead. 

Part of the process is to ask yourself three questions: What do I need? What's in my way? And, what has to go? Simple questions, always. Not so simple answers, usually. But taking the time to think it through yields a signpost that guides your path forward.

4. Ramp up your mindfulness program.

It doesn't just help your business. It helps you. That will, it's true, likely help your business also but the point is that it starts within.

This week, if you aren't already meditating, start with five minutes a day. Set a timer. Get into the routine of it. The key is to keep coming back, both when your mind starts to wander and when you find that you've skipped a day or two. Come back, and slowly build the stamina of the practice that leads to long-term happiness and grace.

Published on: Nov 27, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.