Well doneAt the start of every year, I encourage my clients to follow the same practice I do of reviewing the past year before setting intentions for the new one. I find that a thorough review of the previous year can provide important guidance for moving ahead. I make a list of “Successes, Accomplishments, and Breakthroughs” and another of “Failures, Disappointments, and Breakdowns.” After giving myself some time to celebrate my successes, I analyze my failures. Try this process yourself, and see what it provides.

Looking at each of your disappointments over the past year, ask yourself what went wrong in that area, and what you might be able to do differently. Let’s say you didn’t gain enough new clients last year. What’s your take on what went wrong?

Perhaps you’re pretty sure you didn’t spend enough time building referrals with others who share your target market. What you might do differently this year is put some emphasis on that. Use that realization to create an intention, and turn it into a regular commitment you can schedule and keep track of.

An intention to build more referral relationships could spark a commitment to have one conversation each week with a potential referral partner. That’s an activity you can put on your weekly schedule. At week’s end, you’ll be able to tell whether or not you did it, and if so, check it off and celebrate.

So far, so good. This may sound a lot like making a New Year’s resolution, with some specificity added. But in order for you to see a breakthrough in this area rather than another breakdown, you may need a bit more help. Here’s what it will take to do things differently this time around:

  1. Motivation – First, you have to be eager for a new result. Make sure you remind yourself periodically throughout the year why you are putting effort on marketing and what you hope it will get you. (Some suggestions here.)
  2. Specific Intention – Generic intentions like “get more clients” and “spend more time on marketing” will help, but they often aren’t enough to spur action. Transform your intentions into specified projects, commitments, and tasks that include what you will do, when you will do it, and how often it needs to happen. Examples: “Attend one networking event per week” or “Post new content to my blog twice per month.”
  3. Triggers – It’s easy to forget about your intentions, or push them aside when other priorities arise. Set up triggers to remind you of what you intend. For example, stick a note on your computer, car dashboard, or bathroom mirror that you can’t avoid seeing. An even better trigger can be one that links a task to something you already do. For example, you might commit to place a follow-up call every day at the moment you finish your first cup of coffee.
  4. Accountability – When you’re the only one who knows what you’ve committed to, it can be tempting to drop new commitments when it comes time to honor them. Consider sharing your intentions with a person or group who will periodically ask how those intentions are going. This could be a friend, colleague, business buddy, action group, success team, or business coach.

It’s time for you to get what you want in your business, and you can! Make this the year you do things differently.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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