Why Goals are Far Better Than Resolutions (and What I’m Planning for 2014)

January 8, 2014

Resolutions are meant to be broken.

At least, that’s how we’ve come to think of them. So few of us actually stick to our New Year’s resolutions that making one barely means anything anymore.

That’s why, over the last few years, I’ve stopped making resolutions — and started setting goals instead. Not high-in-the-sky-and-barely-achievable goals, but goals I fully intend to execute throughout the year. In many ways, my goals are actually more like plans. (Click to tweet this.)

Image: Be deliberateWhat’s on tap for 2014?

Because blogging serves as a form of accountability, here’s what I’m planning for the coming year.

Continue to overdeliver for our clients: We’re looking to take on two new clients by the end of February, but that’s where I’ll put the lid on short-term growth for Socialexis.

Why not continue to take on new clients when we have the demand? Because we want to put our effort into continuing to overdeliver for the clients we already work with, as well as launching awesome products. Which brings us to…

Renewed focus on products for AlexisGrant.com: A few months ago I blogged about an insight into digital products that changed the way we do business, and now’s where that insight comes into play. My products have high potential for revenue and a higher profit margin than client-based work, and the truth is, I love creating them.

Products came second in 2013 as I focused on systemizing the client arm of the business and growing The Write Life. But in 2014, this will be a priority.

Big unveil for The Write Life: This website for writers exceeded my expectations in its first few months, and now, as my dad would say, “we’re right where we want to be.”

Our early success has set us up to offer a huge surprise mid-March. Of all the things my team is working on, this is what I’m most excited about! We’ll share details as soon as we can.

Rebrand my company: It’s time to rename and rebrand Socialexis. Why? Because the company is no longer about me. Our clients benefit from the skills and ideas of our entire 10-person team, and the company brand should reflect that.

I’m also thinking about moving from a contractor to an employee model, and we’ll explore that possibility throughout the year.

A few other notes on 2014 planning

I love reflecting on the year past and planning for the year ahead because it tends to spark ah-ha moments. Here are a few things I learned while putting together my 2014 goals that might help with your career planning, too.

Be smart about your own productivity trends: When you think about your broad goals for the entire year, the year can feel never-ending. But when you break down exactly when and how you’ll execute those plans, the year begins to feel very short.

Once my biz coach and I planned out my year, it became apparent that these first six months are the best time to accomplish the bulk of my 2014 projects. I’m more energetic and productive the first half of the year, and the second half tends to get filled with traveling, holidays and family. Last year things happened to pan out that way, but this year, that schedule will be deliberate.

Just knowing that has already boosted my productivity. I don’t need to be productive this year, I need to be productive these next six months. And the truth is, unless I get started right away, I’ll never finish all the projects on my calendar.

Map out your revenue like you do your projects: I went to my biz coach with a breakdown of deliverables for the year, as well as an admittedly-sort-of-pulled-out-of-thin-air revenue goal for the company. He coaxed me into doing something far more effective: figuring out exactly how much we want to make each quarter and what we need to do to get there.

We then mapped revenue projections next to deliverables, so I know exactly how to stay on track for both. This turned my revenue goals into plans.

Realize you can’t do everything: Know what’s NOT on my list? My travel memoir.

After failing to publish traditionally in 2013, I’m keen to self-publish… eventually. It’s not a top priority for this year, partly because the idea of editing the manuscript again sounds like a huge chore, and partly because realistically, the memoir is probably not going to make much money. Revenue isn’t everything, of course, but when you’re choosing between enjoyable projects that grow your bottom line and time-consuming-yet-fulfilling projects that won’t bring in much money, well, you can guess what gets put on the back burner.

Factor in your personal life: We often ignore life changes when setting career expectations, but the truth is, what happens in our personal life does affect our work. That’s why I’ve factored travel and family time into the second half of this year, knowing I’ll be able to maintain but perhaps not grow my business during those months.

Even if you’re not sure how your personal life will come into play this year or you get blindsided by a family development you didn’t expect, know that it’s OK to shift your plans to accommodate. After all, isn’t achieving life-work balance one of the big reasons so many of us want to work for ourselves?

For the last two months, I’ve stepped outside my usually productive routine to rest and reflect and brainstorm. But now? IT’S GO TIME. Bring on 2014!

Oh, and know what else motivates me like no other? This community. I’d love to hear your goals for the coming year if you’re willing to share in the comments!

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    23 Replies to “Why Goals are Far Better Than Resolutions (and What I’m Planning for 2014)”

    • Ah! I loved this post and this just made me so excited for all of your awesome biz plans over the next year (ahem…six months). Such a smart development to think in terms of when you’re the most productive.

    • Dori says:

      My main goal for this year is to brand and grow my blog, Dori Does Life. Similar to yours, one of the functions of my blog is designed to keep me accountable. (Mustn\’t. Stop. Writing.) It provides a way for me to develop my voice as a writer and improve my writing. It’s also fun!
      My second goal for 2014 is to plant the seeds that will eventually blossom into the startup of my career as a freelance writer. Not only does this involve improving my writing, but I need to begin saving money, creating a business plan, consulting with other writers and professionals, develop a portfolio, and rid myself of things that are currently zapping the time and energy that I want to put into my business. Last year, I realized that this wasn’t something that I *had* to do as soon as possible; I’m a full-time graduate student, I work part-time, and I enjoy having a social life and SLEEP so being an entrepreneur can wait a while.
      I enjoy reading your blogs and I look forward to all of the good things in store here and over on The Write Life in 2014. Thanks for what you do!

      • Alexis Grant says:

        That’s awesome, Dori! I love how you break it down into saving money, creating a plan, portfolio, etc. Breaking it into little steps you can actually accomplish goes a long way.

    • Lou says:

      I love this article, because it completely aligns with my outlook this year. Creating plans, rather than big lofty goals, is when the magic happens. And the tips you outlined are good practice for implementation. Thanks!

    • Thanks for being inspiring as usual, Alexis! I also make plans instead of resolutions. I wrote a post on my blog with 13 things I did in 2013 and 14 plans for 2014.

      #8 on the first list is a direct result of your post calling for guest bloggers/blogging opportunities. I’ve already done #7 on the second list. Like you, I’m most productive at the beginning of the year (and in September, for some reason).

      I’ve been writing and learning a lot over the past few years. This year I plan to focus on releasing more projects and monetizing my work. I’m also newly debt free, which opens up so many possibilities. Happy New Year!

    • Dana Sitar says:

      Congrats and best wishes on all of this, Lexi! It’s so interesting to follow the growth of your business (and the changes in your career over the past 2 1/2 years I’ve been reading!)

      I’m so glad you mentioned your realization that your last 6 months tend to slow down — I’m noticing that trend in myself, as well, and reading it here reinforces the need to plan ahead for that.

      Excited to see you get back into products — and for a huge surprise at The Write Life! 🙂

    • Elise says:

      Wonderful stuff as usual. The way you process and think things through is helpful to me. And your approach seems very realistic. I\’ve done some assessing and am still doing the goals part of looking ahead. I did choose One Word for the New Year. This is a way of framing the year that I\’ve found to be awesome for the past two years. This year, my Word is God…because I feel pulled toward a life that puts God first and doesn\’t just pretend to. The scripture that\’s guiding me is Matthew 6:33, \”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Thanks for sharing. It has been very exciting to watch your career develop so beautifully. You are an inspiration!

    • Awesome stuff Alexis, sounds very mapped out and like nothing can stop you and going off your previous success I’d say that’d be about right 🙂

      I really look forward to seeing the re-brand of Socialexis and seeing how you go about that, I imagine there will be some great takeaways from that for all to learn from!

      Personally, I want to keep growing my blog, pick up my second writing client and grow from there. Also quitting the 9-5 is pretty much a massive priority also!

      Wish me luck, it’s going to be a big year!

    • Jonathan Jackson says:

      This is awesome Alexis! I have been a fan since I found your website last year, and you have been an informal mentor along my freelancing journey. Can\\\’t wait to see what you are up too next! For me, I am working on getting my first ever ebook (a resource guide for millenials entering college) out to the publiic. I am also going to work with a start up called Accel.io to build a course around it. I also want to work on a memoir of my family and mid-2os, that I want to release around my birthday. Separate from that, I also am working on building out my freelance and brand management practice and hopefully launching my agency! 2014 is going to be awesome!

    • Thanks for the pep talk, Alexis. I have already mapped out my goals for 2014. Although I have sort of called them resolutions, what’s in a word? I see them as plans for the year. Top of list: complete first draft of my next novel. It’s now or never!

    • Sooo many things to think about from this post. I also love the “slow down the second six months,” concept. My goals are to stay self-employed and surpass my employee-income as many months as possible. So far so good for February!

    • Monica says:

      Hi, Lexi! Thanks so much for this post. It definitely motivated and excited me to a productive 2014. My goals for the year are to promote/grow my new freelance writing business (my graphic designer is currently working on my promo. materials) and get the manuscript for my first novel \”cleaned up\” enough to query agents. Thanks again, Monica

    • Rory Moulton says:

      Totally agree Alexis. Set specific, attainable and measurable goals. I only have one this year: Conceive and pitch one freelance article every week. So far, so good: bonapp.it/1ilUuzX

    • Your post has given me so many ideas for 2014 especially about finding the right work/life balance. I am going to follow in your footsteps and spend the first 3 months being really productive then take a month off to travel before being productive again. You\\\’ve made me realise that I can design my life how I want it to be. Thanks Alexis!

    • Lisa McKay says:

      You already know what the first two weeks of 2014 has brought for us… one of those MAJOR bumps in the road. I had big plans indeed for this year, but almost all of them are on hold for the next little while. That’s OK. As long as Mike gets through this, I’ll take the pause. Hope everything’s going as you’d planned this first part of the year. Stay well.

    • What you said about planning for family (and life!) really hit home for me.

      I know I’ll be moving this summer but have no idea where yet. (Husband’s finishing grad school… bring on the post docs!) So I’m orienting my goals, like growing my client base by 100% and launching a niche authority site, towards the first half of the year.

      I’m pretty sure July-December I’ll be in maintain mode as a I settle into my new home, so I want to make sure I have plenty of good stuff to maintain!

    • I hit a lot of success and growth in my writing business last year, and that’s posed a challenge (in a good way) of figuring out where and how to grow in 2014. I’m still figuring it out – I was set on trying to find this big goal or achievement to focus on – but someone gave me a great piece of advice the other day: “We don’t always have our eyes on a big prize – sometimes it’s simply about achieving balance.”

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