As we are entering a new decade, there can be even more pressure to stick with our New Year's resolutions. We tend to look back at the past ten years as a whole and can stress over what changes we've made -- or haven't -- and focus more on our failures than celebrate our successes.
Similarly, at the end of 1999, I felt a ton of pressure since it was the end of a whole millennium. I spent tons of time looking back on my life and began to evaluate what I liked and didn't like and asked myself four questions. The resolutions I made as a result of those questions changed the course of my career.
Twenty years on, I have followed the same framework for defining my resolutions every year. They've been an essential part of setting me up for success in each new year-- and beyond.
Here are the questions that I ask:
1. What outcome do I want to achieve?
Most people don't really stop and think about this thoroughly. If you don't have a specific definition of what success means in each thing you are doing -- such as to find five new clients, or open a new business location, or increase your savings by 10 percent each month for your retirement account -- you'll never know that you've achieved it. Being specific is much more helpful than making a vague goal to "succeed in your career" or "learn something new."
2. What is holding me back?
Sometimes we truly aren't aware of what blocks us from achieving what we want, but most of the time we just don't want to admit what's stopping us. Once you name the thing that is stopping you from moving forward, you can brainstorm ways to get past it. Anticipating what can be in your way helps you be prepared and come up with a plan for when you're actually faced with it.
3. What is my plan to get there?
With a specific goal in mind, look for easily quantifiable actions to take that will allow you to achieve it. This makes things much easier -- and less daunting -- than if I was looking at it the other way around.
To give yourself accountability, you can have a coach or mentor to help you along. Additionally, you can write your goals down in a passion planer or a notebook on a weekly or monthly basis to track how you are doing along the way.
4. What am I willing to commit?
Once you've defined your outcome, removed what's stopping you and have a plan, you're just left with your own accountability. You can commit time, resources, money or a combination of those things to see a project through -- but you need at least one of those, or it will have no momentum.
After you've answered these simple questions, you'll be much clearer with your business outlook -- into this decade and beyond.