New Year’s is coming soon. It’s a time when people get excited, make resolutions and say to each other, “It’s going to be a great year, the best year ever.” This will be true for some people—the extraordinarily successful. However, many people won’t be successful, and won’t have the best year ever. Their year will look a lot like the year before, and the year before that one. A rerun. Why won’t this year be any different for these people? Because they have missed some of the basic and fundamental keys to success both in business and in life.

 
There is solution, however: Follow 6 basic key principles. Here is my ironclad guarantee: If you follow the principles outlined below, you will have a year that will exceed even your own expectations—and maybe the expectations of those around you.
 
  1. Set personal goals. You’re probably thinking, “Okay, thanks, boy genius! I never thought of that one. Wow!” But please take the time to hear me out. We all know that we should have goals, and we say that we have them. Still, 99% of the people that I meet say, “I know I should set goals and write them down, but I haven’t made the time.” Take out a piece of paper, a notebook, a piece of bark or a stone tablet. Write out specific goals for each area of your life (financial, social, career, etc.) Post them where you can see them daily. You can’t hit a target unless you are aiming for it, and you can’t achieve a goal without having it. You will be amazed how you will feel when you are done. You now have a track to run on.
 
  1. Set business goals. I meet so many CEO’s, COO’s, executives and entrepreneurs who do not have specific tangible goals for their businesses. No, I am not kidding. But I wish I were. For instance, I asked one CEO what his goals were for the next year, and he looked down and replied, “That’s a good question.” I then said, “You do have them, don’t you?” He replied, “Sort of, but they aren’t in writing.” Anyone in a leadership role should have specific written goals for their business every year. There should be goals for revenue, cash flow, sales, technology, etc. If you can work with the team and develop them, that’s even better. There should be no more than 5-6 goals for the year and everyone from the front desk to the loading dock should know what they are—everyone. 
 
  1. Decide what you’re not going to do. People tend to concentrate most of their time on what they are going to do. What about what you are not going to do? You may say, “This year, I am not going to feel guilty about…” or “This year, I am not going to do things because I feel obligated to do them.” You might say. “This year, I am not going to spend time on…” or “This year I am not going to say yes when I mean no.” In identifying what you are not going to do, it frees up time to do things that you want to do or should do. It can be very liberating while also freeing up time for more important tasks.
  2. Focus on your time “spending.” I don’t believe you can manage your time. Everyone gets 24 hours, so you can’t get more or less. What I believe you can do is prioritize how you spend your time. The first step is to identify time drains and try to eliminate them or change the approach. What takes up a ton of your time that shouldn’t? Fix it. The next step is to decide where you are going to spend your precious time this year. You may say to yourself, “I want to spend more time on family,” or “I want to spend more time on my health.” Then here is the next step, which is what some people miss: block it into your calendar, Outlook or PDA. I meet many people who say, “I would like to ________ but I just don’t have the time.” Here is the question: Do you really not have the time, or is it just that you haven’t made the time? If you really truly want to accomplish something this year, spend the time.
 
  1. Do something new. In the New Year, try to embrace something brand new. Join a club, sing karaoke, shave your head, learn a foreign language, take dance lessons, learn to surf, go to Paris or stay at a monastery. Be bold! Step outside of what you already know and learn something entirely new and different. Ask yourself this question: “What can I do this year that I have never done before?” It creates momentum, breaks the cycle of boredom and gets the juices flowing. Besides, you might have an amazing experience you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
 
  1. Make a contribution. What can you give to your community? Your family? Your friends? How can you make a contribution? I am not talking about a check, which is pretty easy to write. What skills, talents, and abilities can you contribute to help change your part of the world in a small way? Giving makes you feel better about yourself, and the generosity you give comes back to you tenfold.
 
   
If you take the time to think through and address these principles, your life can change dramatically in one year. I know you are busy and don’t have time, but here is the big question: If you don’t ever take the time to identify and articulate your goals, how will you know that you are spending your time the way that you should? Take time out now to plan your year. You have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours. Make them all count—that is what successful people do.
 
(Shawn Doyle is President and founder of New Light Learning and Development Inc. From 2000- 2004, Doyle was the Vice President of Learning and Development at Comcast University and has authored 10 books on leadership, creativity sales and has a contract to publish 6 more books in the next three years. His web site is www.shawnspeakscable.com)

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