Can I ask you something?
(It’s just us here. No one else has to know.)
When was the last time you set a “New Year’s Resolution” that lasted more than a few weeks?
Wow, that long?!
It’s okay. You’re not alone.
Many of us are in the same boat. Year after year, we come up with lists of goals that sound awesome but have no basis in reality. They are often framed around an ideal, such as a standard of beauty, or status, like personal wealth.
Ultimately, this type of thinking often leads to disappointment and can cause us to feel depressed and have a generally negative outlook–which can, in turn, shed a pall over the rest of our year.
So, what’s the solution? How can we create resolutions that will “stick”?
Here’s five ways to make sure any goal you set will be successful:
This sounds silly, but it’s surprisingly obvious: When you’re passionate about something, it electrifies you (giving you goosebumps, eh?). On the other hand, if you aren’t interested in something, there’s no “spark.”
Basically, if you’re not feeling it, you won’t be motivated to do it. Run your goal through this filter first–and if it fails, ditch it.
A lot of people have “generic” goals, like “I want to win an award.” The problem with that is because it is so broad, your brain has trouble comprehending it. Being spoiled for choice in the sheer number of categories and amount of awards available in the world, you can spend the entire year without making any progress.
Instead, spend the time to determine exactly what you mean. A goal such as “I want to win at Sundance for best Digital Non-Fiction Short Film” is specific and gives you a clear direction.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Nothing worth doing comes easy.” When setting your resolutions, you should think of things that will be a challenge for you, so that when you reach them you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
The amount of acceptable difficulty is purely an individual thing. For some, giving up eating chocolate is as hard as another person completing an Ironman triathlon.
When setting goals, adding too many restrictions gives you additional opportunities for failure. If you tell yourself that you absolutely have to lose ten pounds by a certain date, and you don’t reach that, you can open yourself up to a spiral of negative emotions that’s hard to break.
Instead, give yourself a concrete goal of “I will lose 10 pounds” or “I will do 30 pushups a day for 30 days.” By removing the secondary constraint, you will be more likely to reach your target.
No matter how motivated you are, it’s easy enough to let your resolutions slip. If you build in a level of accountability, however, you’ll keep yourself on track to completion.
Jerry Seinfeld famously used a wall calendar to cross off days until he reached his goal. You can post daily updates to Facebook or Snapchat, engaging others along your journey. Or, if your resolution is something private, you can ask a coach, friend or family member to check in with you frequently to challenge and encourage you.
With this framework, you’ll set yourself up for success not just for New Year’s resolutions, but for whatever goals you target.
Kendra Scott had 2020 planned out for her eponymous jewelry and home decor companywhen all of her plans–along with those of so many businesses–changed in an instant. “Covid-19 was not part of our plan,” Scott told Inc. editor-at-large Tom Foster during Inc.‘s latest Real Talk: Business Reboot webinarThursday. “The best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.”
Scott, who’s based in Austin, says she had to return to a “startup mentality” to face the health crisis that temporarily closed the doors on her 108 retail locations and the economic freeze that altered her supply chain and changed customers’ purchasing habits. Working from home–while juggling homeschooling for herthree kids–and staying in touch with her teams and customers, she reminds herself to “be creative and collaborative and take each day as it comes.”
Here are some of the insights and highlights from Foster’s conversation with Scott:
Scott learned about flexibility during the Great Recession when she realized that selling her jewelry primarily through stores owned by others wasn’t going to work for her or her long-term plan. “Every store around was closing. Nobody had a store,” she recalled.
“When the crisis hit, I had to pivot quickly.It forced me to look at my business differently,” she said. That meant opening her own brick-and-mortar shop and going direct to consumer through the web. She remembers telling her staff that this move could not fail(“I’ll have to move back in my mother,” she said with a laugh), and thatit could succeed beyond their hopes.
A decade later, Scott has 108 stores and a thriving online business. And, pre-pandemic, her company wasvalued at $1billion.
Muchof the success of her retail locations is the way the stores’ designencourages customers to interact with the merchandise and salespeople. Unlike other jewelry stores filled with glass display cases (and, in some cases, plexiglassbarriers), Kendra Scott stores emphasizetactility and connection.
The challenge now is maintaining that feel in the 78 shops that have already reopened post-Covid, as well astranslating the experience online. Salespeople can no longer touch customers, but, as Scott muses, “How else can we touch her heart, touch her mind?”
One way has been speeding up a virtual try-on concept that was in the works for a year and that launched in April. Another has been implementing curbside pickup programs at some stores. This is especially important, since Scott believes brick-and-mortar stores are not going away. “We need those places,” she says. “We have to create places that allow people to connect.”
As Scott advises her employees: “Don’t worry about the transaction.Worry about the connection.”
Businesses need to ask (and answer), “Where is [the customer] in this moment? How can we serve her? How can we bring her joy?” Scott says. “Because she’s our boss. She signs our checks. If not for her, we don’t have jobs.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Scott and her team have been reaching out to customers on every possible platform. She advises people to pick up the phone, send emails, or get on FaceTime with customers tomake them feel seen and appreciated. (Even her mother has been making calls.) Scott has also sent many handwritten letters. “The simplest things can make a real difference,” she says. “Don’t focus on the business. Focus on the customer.”
Scott, whose company survived the last recession (and whose previous business did not succeed), knows about challenges. She also knows about keeping the faith during tough times. “There’s a reason this moment is happening,” she likes to tellherself. “In the moment, you may not understand it,” but a lesson will present itself. If you can understandthat lesson, you–and your company–will gain from it.
“Right now it seems so hard to understand why something like this has happened,” Scott says. One possible lesson: After the quarantine lifts and some of the harder hit sectors of the economy rebound, “We may be kinder to each other, more loving to each other,” she hopes. “Those are the gifts that may come from this struggle.”
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