Happy New Year!I hope you’re ready for your best year ever, I know I am!

Yesterday as I was checking out at the grocery store the cashier startled me. As I was about to leave, she said “I hope you have a better 2011 than 2010”. Wow, why would she think I’d had a bad 2010? I was caught a completely off guard, but I replied – “The kind of year you have is what you make of it – it’s going to be a great year!”

But her statement echos how a lot of people feel, and have felt for quite some time. For the past few years, many people have been in the doldrums – what with a raging recession, huge job losses, lost home values, not to mention our 401(k)s and a seemingly uncertain future, there hasn’t been a lot to be excited about.   But enough is enough and this too shall pass. It’s 2011 and time to snap out of it and make this your best year ever; and the best way to do that is to take life and/or your business by the horns and get moving. You might be asking yourself – HOW? Well, I just happen to have a step-by-step process that you can follow to achieve amazing results – not only in business but in your personal life too:

1.       Review where you are today and where you want to be in the future. What’s the gap between the two?

2.       Conduct a SWOT analysis – Gather your most trusted advisers and your leadership team and work together to look internally at your organization’s Strengths and Weaknesses. Then, look externally at your Opportunities and Threats.

Don’t just do this in your head – write it down! Now, you need to formulate a plan to leverage your strengths and offset your weaknesses. Next you need to look outside your business for untapped opportunities that are just waiting to be capitalized on. Consider how you can capitalize on them and drive your business further than ever before.  But before you jump off that cliff, there’s one more item to consider, what threats are out there that could trip you up; and more importantly how are you going to avoid them?

3.       Set some GOALS. But remember, they should be SMART goals:

  • S pecific – be detailed!
  • M easurable – how will you know if you are on track to achieve it? How will you know when you’re finished?
  • A ttainable – can it be really be accomplished? If it’s seen as impossible, you’ll be less likely to try to reach it.  So set stretch goals, but make sure it’s attainable.
  • R ealistic – What makes sense? What’s going to stretch you to work hard, but can realistically be accomplished?
  • T ime-bound – when is it to be completed? No, December 31, is NOT a good, time-bound goal!

This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but its well worth the effort to do it right.

4.       Brainstorm how you’re going to achieve each goal. There are numerous ways to accomplish everything, so be creative – just let your mind go. Take 3 minutes for each stated goal and in that 3 minutes list everything you can think of to accomplish each one – it doesn’t matter if it’s silly, just get it listed – you’ll revise later.

5.       Make a contingency plan – no matter what your initial plan, there will be unexpected obstacles, so what’s your plan B, C, D…

6.       Be flexible and open to change – remember we said earlier that there will be unexpected obstacles, well when you run into those; you may have to adjust your goals to accommodate the new information. Don’t fret, just make the appropriate adjustments and keep moving forward.

7.       Learn from your mistakes – it’s been said you learn more from mistakes than you ever do from getting it right – the crime is in repeating the mistakes because you didn’t learn anything from them to begin with.

8.       Share the vision – it gets others around you motivated and you feed off each other thus keeping everything moving forward. Not to mention you’re not alone – and that, in and of itself, is motivating!

9.       Are you in a self imposed BOX? Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPod or the iPad by following the pack, he let his mind get out of the self imposed box and created something extraordinary. Are you limiting yourself and your business by being too restrictive?  Are you imposing unnecessary limitations that need to be removed, if so, it’s time to remove the training wheels.

10.   Persevere – remember, when the going gets tough the tough get going! I know it’s hard sometimes, but are you going to take the path of least resistance or are you going to pull up those boot straps and trudge on through? Trust me, it may be harder to pull up those boot straps, but you’ll be glad you did!

You can do it, just get going. Even if you don’t accomplish every goal, one thing is certain – if you write your goals down and keep them in front of you, you’ll accomplish far more than if you do NOTHING!