I resolve to:

  • Save more/spend less
  • Eat well
  • Stay fit

Those who know me well are aware of my annual New Year’s Resolution tradition.  I spend a good deal of time thinking about my annual goals.  I write them on a 3 by 5 card.  I also grade myself on last year’s goals.  Over time, I’ve averaged about a B.

I am a big believer in the importance of the annual “look back,” the evaluation of progress toward my goals, and the importance of looking ahead and setting the bar high. While I write personal goals, I focus a lot of attention on business goals.  Goal setting is important in every business, and we find it particularly important in the financial services and investment world where progress is measured daily and the focus is often on results. Additionally, we make an effort to understand our clients’ business goals so we can help them achieve them and focus our efforts toward their desired outcomes.

My annual business goal setting process includes a few steps:

  1. The Inventory – I take out a piece of paper and list all the things that are going well and all the things that need work.  As I craft my goals, I pull from the “plus” side and try to build on successes.  I  also try to create goals to eliminate items from the “minus” side of the list.  In my experience, I am more successful investing time in what is working well then trying to change things that are often beyond our control. However, I have frequently used the goal setting process to try to eliminate items from the negative side of the list that have become a distraction from our core business.
  2. The List – I keep a list of bigger, multi-year goals.  This is the “bucket list,” a list of bigger things I’d like to accomplish.  It also includes multi-year business growth goals.  Often, these are goals that can take multiple years or require a significant investment of time.
  3. The Inspiration –Throughout the year, I commit a lot of time to reading biographies and stories about people and businesses I admire.  I take time to contemplate some of the lessons from these books and apply those lessons to our business.  I also ask my friends what they plan to accomplish in the New Year.  I’m regularly inspired by how successful people identify their priorities (See related blog post What Makes You Successful? Productive?).

When we write down our business goals, we try to make them concrete and quantifiable.  We also try to break down the goals to identify the steps necessary to achieve them.  We try to write the goals so we will have a basis on which to grade ourselves at the end of the year.

One goal I plan to include on the list for 2014 is to make more effective use of Twitter and Linked In for our business and our clients.  We use these social media platforms to connect with thought leaders and media in the financial services business.  We try to share interesting stories that we think are important and relevant.  We also track news and stay on top of what the media is looking for so our clients can better connect their products and services to the news.  We also use it to find interesting articles that may not have come across in daily reading.  Our goal is to be thoughtful and productive in how we use social media. (Read Frank Bruni’s thoughtful New York Times editorial Tweet Less, Read More for thoughts on the downside of today’s social-media-enhanced world.)

My social media goal will include the amount of time I will commit to this on most days.  I also plan to keep a log of actions and outcomes to gage whether the time was effectively spent. Many of my colleagues at The Lowe Group are doing the same.

And I promise to grade myself on the results a year from now.