Have you set your resolutions yet for the next 12 months? If not, join the club!

If the thought of setting out another long list of projects and deadlines leaves you feeling overwhelmed and demotivated then perhaps it’s time to face up to the fact that goal setting isn’t for you. I’ve certainly come to the conclusion that there are far better ways to get stuff done than creating endless to do lists, which after a spate of activity, usually sit gathering dust on my computer until the start of another year.

So if you’d rather walk over burning hot coals than create another action plan then here are the 7 key reasons why you shouldn’t be setting goals for your business – and what you should do instead.

You’ve still got a load of tasks from the previous year that you haven’t completed yet. You’ve got a long list of projects and goals from last year that you’ve only half completed but you’re bored with them now and want to try something new.

Solution: Review your projects from the previous 12 months and put them into 3 lists – ones you want to keep, ones you want to postpone for now, and ones you want to ditch altogether.

You don’t plan your day. Your whole day is spent managing other people’s demands or getting caught up in time-wasting activities so you end the day feeling exhausted but no further forward than you were at the start.

Solution: Begin each day with 3 tasks that you want to complete that day and order them by prioritiy. Set aside 20 minutes for each task using the timer on your Smartphone.

You get caught up in other people’s emergencies and don’t know how to say no. You spend so much time pleasing everyone else that your own projects and requirements get put on the back burner and never get done.

Solution: Write down a clear goal that you want to achieve in the next 6-12 months and then review every request against that goal to see if it aligns with it. Say yes if it does and no if it doesn’t – easier said than done sometimes but you need to be strict with your time.

You are constantly distracted by emails and social media. You can’t focus on one thing and are constantly checking your emails or Twitter and Facebook updates and find that an hour has passed and you’ve not done anything.

Solution: Be strict with your time. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes every time you check and read your emails or social media updates. Use apps such as Freedom to restrict your access to the internet when you want to focus on an important project.

You don’t take action – spend too much time planning and not enough doing. You’ve created several spreadsheets for your main projects and they all look very pretty but you have only really tinkered about with one of the projects and only then half heartedly.

Solution: Remind yourself why you want to do the project. Visualise what the outcome will look like and, if appropriate, put an image up near your desk to remind you. If the outcome doesn’t inspire you anymore then perhaps you need to ditch the project?

You take on too many projects at once and don’t complete any of them. You’ve got several projects on the go as it makes you feel like you’re working hard. But you’ve not really moved forward with any of them as you jump from one to another.

Solution: Focus on no more than one project at a time. Set out the tasks and deadlines that you need to take over the next month to achieve that project then schedule time in your diary to get those tasks done.

You don’t delegate your time effectively. You try to do everything yourself as no one else can do the tasks quite like you. You tell yourself that it’s easier and quicker to do it yourself but you end up wasting time on tedious tasks that suck up your time and energy, leaving you feeling too drained to focus on the important stuff.

Solution: Review those non-fee earning tasks that take up your time and then delegate them to freelancers who have the appropriate skills.

Setting goals doesn’t have to be a chore. The most important thing that I’ve learnt is not to be afraid of ditching projects that no longer inspire me. So use the tips above to start creating an action plan that will help you to achieve your best year yet!

About Valerie Eaton

Valerie is the founder and owner of Smart VA who provides virtual PA services to self-employed professionals who are feeling overwhelmed by their workload and want more time to focus on growing their business.

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