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Making New Year's Business Goals and Resolutions Last

Inevitably, each New Year brings about a new wave of forward planning ideas. For some, these are the beginning of significant personal changes and improvements. But, for many, their annual New Year resolutions last as long as it took to come up with them. Whilst many of these goals have few consequences if left unachieved, businesses face a different reality. With over 8,000 Australian businesses, and 2,000 New Zealand businesses liquidating each year - and only 37% of micro businesses and start-ups existing after 2 years - it's not uncommon to see desires unfulfilled and goals unachieved.

Pinpointing exactly why this failure rate is so high is difficult. However, there is hope. One of the keys in making those New Year business goals and resolutions last lies in understanding how humans think and communicate.

Understanding Oneself

As a key decision maker within a business, one of the most important abilities to develop is a degree of self-awareness. The more clearly someone views themself, the more creative and confident they become. They also make sounder decisions, communicate more effectively and build better relationships. Despite best intentions, everyone has conscious and unconscious biases that impact their decision-making processes. Some have little impact on day-to-day lives, others are much more impactful. Understanding these biases and how to overcome them can improve how future decisions are made. A process that involves continuous personal development.

It's important to understand motivational factors as these play a significant role in one’s ability to ensure goals and resolutions last. Perhaps most commonly associated with the New Year’s resolutions, most goals are first met with a strong enthusiasm and desire to succeed. However, as time passes, many lose this motivation and desire. Yes, everyone wants to succeed, but not everyone has mastered the ability to sustain long-term motivation.

There are two primary forms of motivation. Extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation refers to the avoidance of something in fear of the consequences, whilst intrinsic motivation is thought of as being something like an internal magnet pulling you along. Because everyone is different, the sources that generate these forms of motivation will be different. Some will seek extrinsic factors, like receiving a reward, whilst others pursue intrinsic motivations that provide a sense of purpose or mastery. Understanding which form of motivation works best requires a degree of self-awareness. An increased self-awareness can provide an added ability to overcome barriers and set better intentions.

Understanding Employees

Now with a better degree of self-awareness, the next stage in making the New Year business goals and resolutions last is understanding how employees think. Motivating oneself can be difficult enough, when you then add employees who can't read minds into this equation, it gets even more difficult. But the key to success still follows a similar path as understanding oneself.

As with the pursuit of any personal goal, the goals of a business can be achieved in a similar fashion. Both require the right applications of motivation, drive and desire. The key differences being that business goals are more commonly larger in scale and require combined efforts from all employers and employees. Thus, achieving them requires clear communication from top level management to each level of employee.

For example, one goal that a manufacturing business may have will be to reduce operating costs. Whilst this goal is achievable, it fails to communicate what success is, how it may be achieved, and when it needs to be achieved by. It's vague and confusing. There's no clear sense of direction. Thus, employees may be confused about their role in working towards the goal and will likely become demotivated. The use of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals can prevent this. SMART goals can prevent confusion and provides confidence with a clear and specific goal definition. Therefore, a SMART example of the previously mentioned goal for the manufacturing business would be ‘to reduce operating costs by 20% by recycling and reusing excess materials by the end of Q3 this year.' Now, the goal has a clear and specific purpose that can be measured and sets a deadline for it to be achieved by. A combination of factors that employees can clearly work towards.

The Next Steps

Now that a SMART goal has been defined, what happens next? There are a number of actionable options to ensure achieving the goal becomes a reality and not a dream. Setting small targets along the way can provide small boosts to motivation, especially when the desired goal is rather large and seemingly far away. Small targets also help track progress more easily and provide opportunities for rewards.

Framing approaches from a positive viewpoint also improves the likelihood of success. Assuming that goals won't be achieved if target deadlines aren't met, can often mean that perception becomes a reality. Instead, approaching goals by focusing on the potential benefits can improve internal motivation which is far more likely to result in success. That doesn't mean potential obstacles should be neglected. There is still a need to consider negative outcomes, however, they should not deter actionable steps from being taken. After all, it's ok to fail. As long as it's viewed as a step forward and not a setback.

Through clear communication of the purpose and value of achieving a specific goal, employers will increase the likelihood of improving employee motivation. Self-awareness will also provide valuable insight into why certain actions are taken over others and can provide opportunities for self-improvement. Small targets along the way and a positive mindset can also ensure that future goals and resolutions don't just become a New Year's trend. This way, those dreams become a reality and the New Year's resolutions become the starting point of a new way forward.

Published Date:

January 7, 2022

Read Time:

5 minutes


Team Tidy