If you're like me you probably have crafted some New Year's resolutions in the last few days. Most small business owners and entrepreneurs are goal-oriented and love a new year with fresh opportunities, right? While self-employed folks might have business goals throughout the year, we tend to use resolutions when we know we need to change a behavior, not just set a goal. Resolutions mean change. That's why sometimes they fail – we say we want to change but we all have a natural inertia toward remaining exactly how we are. Resolutions come up because we already know we need to do something differently, and we already have not been doing that thing differently, and we're stuck, and we resolve to do better.
But the question is, will we? So here's two ways to look at your resolution that help you ferret out what's so hard about keeping it.
1. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line vertically down the middle. On the left side of the line write down what you want, as specifically as you can. Let's say you want to network more for your small business. Now, in the right side of the page write “If only I didn't have to……”. Now read the left side and add on the right side so that, for example, you are saying “I want to network for my small business more, if only I didn't have to…..” and then start writing a list of your “if only's” in that right column. Write as many “if only's” as you can, no matter how insignificant they are. You might have a list at the end that reads something like this:
I want to network for my small business more, if only I didn't have to
- get up so early in the morning to get to the meeting
- dress up and put on make up
- polish up my introduction because I never know quite what to say
- come up with a way to sound interesting to other small business owners
- have the entire rest of the day ahead of me all dressed up and no place to go
- miss my yoga class once a week to go to the networking meeting.
If you don't like that method here's another, similar one. (And by the way, I did't invent these, they are both commonly used in workshops by many people.)
2. Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle in the middle. In the circle write what you want. Now, all around the circle, list all the reasons you believe you won't get it or can't get it. Keep asking yourself “and why else?” until you just can't think of any other reason at all. You'll find that this exercise gets to your hidden beliefs a bit more than the first exercise does. For example, you might still be thinking about your resolution to network more but this time you find yourself writing “I really don't believe that networking is going to help my business anyway.”
You see? Once we list out the barriers and the beliefs about what we have not done, even if we know we should be doing it, we have in our hands all our resistances to the thing we have resolved to do. Then, we have a choice to tackle each of them, or to decide that the barriers are too firmly in place and we're just not going to do the thing. And we are free to drop that and move on, and quit hassling ourselves for not doing it.
The bottom line is to resolve you're going to do it OR resolve to let it go….and these two exercises will help you clearly distinguish which way to go. You're a winner either way, because you're keeping your resolutions.
Now that you know about how to make and keep resolutions, you might want some help assessing what's next for you and your business. I invite you to check out my Assess Your Success quick coaching. It might be just what you need to move those resolutions ahead.