The festive season always seems to be a time for reflection and looking back on the highs and lows of the previous year. This year, I say to hell with reflection, let’s start planning!

photo of me looking forward

Looking forward to the new year (and more snow?)

Look forward to 2014 and make a New Year’s resolution for your business

Now, we all know that most resolutions don’t happen: go to the gym more, lose weight, socialise more, make more money, get more clients.

Why don’t these resolutions work?

Because they’re such broad ideas, you’ll never know when you’ve reached them! How much weight? How many clients? How much money?

So, I’m going to take a leaf out of my previous project management life and make a SMART resolution for 2014.

If you haven’t heard of SMART objectives yet, they’re a great way to turn your objective in to something you’ll actually manage to do.

Although I’m on a quest to rid the business world of acronyms, sometimes you just can’t get away from them and, as long as you’re not spouting off “I’m creating SMART objectives” to people without explaining exactly what you mean, you should be alright.

What’s a SMART objective?

One of my recent writing projects included an explanation of SMART, so that university students could figure out what kinds of goals they want to set in their mentoring relationship. Here’s what SMART can mean:

A specific goal is clear and well defined
A general goal would be, “I want to lose weight”
But a specific goal would be, “By running three times a week and following a diet plan, I want to lose 20 pounds in three months ”.

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

Plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps
Is there a realistic path to achievement?

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective towards which you are willing and able to work within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.

A goal should be grounded within a time frame, giving yourself enough time to achieve the goal.

That’s it, S.M.A.R.T., a thoroughly useful acronym.

You might hear a bit of quibbling over some of these, such as ‘relevant’ rather than ‘realistic’ or ‘timely’ rather than ‘time-bound’ but they all boil down to the same thing: think through your objectives and how EXACTLY you intend to reach them.

So, here’s my 2014 resolution for my business:

“I will plan out, write, publish and promote 52 blog posts, aiming to post once a week, on subjects that can help my clients and website viewers with their business.”

I’d already started this process when I saw Jon Morrow’s advice to do less over the festive season so my one goal for Xmas is to write out 52 blog headlines that I can use next year.

What to write about?

I’ve thought about broad subject areas that I’ve already written about (and have proved popular) and areas that will answer questions I always seem to get asked about.

Subjects I’ll be writing about:
– Finding, hiring and working with a freelance writer
– Blogging for your business – whether to do it and how to make it work
– Communicating with your employees and stakeholders
– What social media path will work best for your business
– Planning your marketing
– How to guides (including how to write a winning press release!)
– Plain English and ridding the business world of acronyms
– ‘The Shy Girl’s Guide to’ will be continuing in 2014 with posts on chairing meetings, interviews, pitches and presentations.

I’ll also make sure I include some silliness around certain times of the year including International Talk Like a Pirate Day (of course, aaarrrggghhh!), British Yorkshire Pudding Week and Roald Dahl Day!

So, that’s my business resolution for 2014 – let me know what your SMART resolution is for the New Year by commenting below, tweeting me or just follow along with how this all turns out for me next year – and yes, you can shout at me if I don’t stick to my objective!

Have a fabulous festive season everyone!

xmas card imagep.s. The xmas card image is from the British Library’s new photostream on Flickr, all free to use with Creative Commons – check it out now for some great historical images as well as some truly bizarre ones!