Ready for a fresh start in 2012? Try this!

newday

If you’re like a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs that I’ve talked to recently…you’re feeling pretty tired.  One guy described it as feeling stretched thin.  Worn out, dragging, physically and mentally drained…and all for good reasons!  Let’s face it, for most of us the last 2…maybe even 3 years have been challenging in many ways.

However it’s a new year and NOW is the absolute best time to start making great things happen for yourself.  (And if you’re worried…even a little bit…that 2012 is the end of the world, the super smart folks at NASA can reassure you there’s nothing to worry about!).  The way I look at it, you’ve always got two choices, you can stress and fret and let the world beat up on you, or you can choose to go out and build your own future.

Where to start?  Here are a few ideas that will help you kick off the New Year the right way.

Play to your strengths

As a business owner you have to wear a lot of hats, everything from IT support to accounting and customer service.  Early on you didn’t have a choice, you do pretty much everything, but as you grow and find some success you have to find other answers or you will collapse under the work. 

If your goal is to grow your business and get more enjoyment out of it, then you have to start playing to your strengths.  When you’re focusing on things you’re really good at, everything seems easy and time flies.  When you’re spending time on things you’re not particularly good it, it’s a struggle and no fun.

What are the 1 or 2 things about your business that you absolutely love?  The parts where you make a huge difference?  What would it take to have you start spending more time on those aspects of your business?

Conversely, what are the 1 or 2 things about your business that you dread doing or just don’t do very well?  What would it take to delegate or outsource that work?  Yes it might cost you some money, but that will be more than offset by the gains you’ll have from investing that time and effort into your strengths.

Focus – what’s most important right now?

One of the reasons you’re feeling tired is that you’re trying to do too much.  Too many things are at the top of your list as critical items.  You work hard, but because you’re spreading your time and attention across 10…maybe even 20 different activities, you’re not getting anything done.  Which would make anyone feel tired!  It’s time to start thinking about doing less!

Take a hard look at what you want to achieve this year.  Out of all the things you could spend your time on, what are the top 5 things you could do that would make the biggest difference to your business?  That list might include eliminating a constraint (i.e. hiring more help, streamlining processes).  That list might include generating more leads and opportunities (developing a marketing plan, more purposeful networking, emphasizing specific marketing tactics).

Whatever you think it is – write down your top 5 priorities for the year and and focus on getting those 5 things done. 

It can be really difficult to prioritize and narrow down your list, but I guarantee you will see a lot more progress and feel better about it if you can stick with a focused approach.

Give

When you’re trying to make things happen, it’s easy to fall into a taker’s mentality.  To focus on what you need from other people in order to win.  Here’s the thing…it’s completely counter-intuitive, but if you really want to succeed, your best bet (and shortest path) is to focus on how you can help others out first.

You build fans, friends, relationships and referral partners by helping people out.  You should always be giving value.  Find out what someone needs…and then help them get it! 

Try this – identify those people who could be great connections for you and figure out how you can help them.  Don’t ask for anything in return, honestly go in with a giving mentality.  (Read the Go-Giver if you want some inspiration on this idea).  Not only will you feel good about yourself, but you will be surprised at the unexpected doors that open because of your efforts.

Reflect and be grateful for today’s gift…

It can be really difficult to find perspective…the big picture that helps propel you in a positive way through good days and bad.  If you’re just treading water and not looking at the big picture…not consistently thinking about why you do what you do, then it’s going to be exhausting. 

Conversely, if you can get into a mindset of purpose and meaning, a lot of things start falling into place.  Obviously you have to find your own answers, but this short TED video from Louie Schwarzberg might give you some ideas.  Check out Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. for a lift.

There are plenty of days when things are going wrong that you’re not likely to feel grateful, but imagine if you could carry that feeling around all the time…pretty powerful stuff.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you – give the 4 ideas above a real shot in the next few weeks.  Spend time thinking about and implementing them into your life and business.  Then let me know if you can sense a difference in your progress and how you feel about it.

What other ideas would you recommend for getting off to a great start in a new year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Seriously – let us know what you think.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

Photo by Stuck in Customs

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