New Years Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep   

It’s our my fervent hope that 2017 was a marathon of being your best self, doing one thing that scares you every day and generally hashtag entrepreneurlyfe-ing about the place. For the rest of us, for whom 2017 may or may not have been a literal dumpster fire of a year, it might be tempting to load up our overflowing plate with a buttload of New Years Resolutions in the hope of finding our best (glamorous, well travelled, connected but unplugged, hustling but simultaneously thintannedmeditatingonamountainttop #soblessed) life.

Let’s be real. You’ve made resolutions before. Clean eating, daily running ‘for mental clarity’, getting a full nights rest, getting up at dawns arsecrack to indulge in journaling/ gratitude/ yoga, & being nicer to your Mum lasts for a while and feels bloody amazing whilst you maintain it, but by March (*cough* Jan 10th *cough*) they can start to feel like another thing you’ve failed at and just.another.burden on your already overwhelmed, overstretched psyche.

I read Andrew Wilkinson’s piece in Medium earlier in the year and it really struck a chord with me. It’s an extension of the things I’ve been saying in my brand manifesto and brand tone of voice workshops at The Brand Architect for years. It’s often easier to think about the things you don’t want than the things you do. According to Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s business partner;

“A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.”

Basically, it’s easier to identify what you hate rather than what you like.

If the thought of adding one more thing to your already overflowing plate leaves you feeling like you might stop breathing, read on. There is a better way to set goals. One’s you’ll actually keep; anti-goals.

To begin our list we thought about what our worst possible day looked like and worked out ways to avoid it.

The worst possible day looked like;

– Lots of emails and admin

– Feeling constantly distracted and ‘on’ without the ‘brain space’ to think

– Trying to juggle family and work simultaneously

– Working with clients we didn’t like or trust

– Chasing money
– Feeling like we’re in the dark.

Then, in the words of Wilkinson, we created a list of anti-goals.

1. No more phone pinging
Don’t work 24/7. Truly. Unless you’re a doctor transporting vital organs, that email can wait until the morning. I turned Basecamp notifications off from 6pm and all other notifications, including email, Messanger and social off entirely. Literally nothing pings on my phone except my phone messages. For my team to message me, it’s literally an emergency. Nothing tragic has happened yet and I enjoy coming to work a lot more, am a lot more productive and everyone is happier.

2. No working on the weekends (sort of)
Honestly, businesses take time to develop. The building of a business is iterative. I’d like to lie to you like those gits do in the FB Ads and tell you that I ‘growth hacked’ my way to a yacht but the truth is that none of my clients have been an overnight success. Even those embryonic fecking vloggers with the shiny skin have been at it since 2009 when they were still in nappies. Take the weekend. Without downtime you’ll burn out and be completely useless to everyone and wonder why your business growth is shambolic. Also, you’ll suck at humaning, something your future self won’t thank your former self for. Nor will your kids. Our rule is that if you have to work on the weekends, it’s for something that has been planned at least 2 weeks out. Everything else can wait. If it can’t, it can still wait. See points above re: productivity and humaning.

3. No more shit clients, partners or collaborators.
We could all do with more cash. Saying no is hard. Sometimes it’s virtually impossible. But saying no to your gut and yes to clients, partner or collaborator who doesn’t fit your avatar, who don’t share your values and who haven’t been properly vetted is a dumb idea. The dumbest. You’ll spend so much time mopping up this category 5 shitstorm that you’ll miss out on a tonne of other opportunity.

4. No more chasing money.
As above, if your clients are shit payers, sack them. The time you spend chasing them for payment for work you’ve ALREADY done is better spent speaking to professional clients who appreciate your expertise. They exist. Thinking they don’t is a sure fire way to make bad decisions and attract breathing headaches. If you still can’t deal, charge a sign on fee or charge upfront rather than in arrears.

5. No more lost communications threads & pointless emails.
Bin your email for internal comms and do everything from Basecamp or it’s equivalent. Rather than asking anyone in your team to do a single thing, pop it in a Basecamp to-do, allocate it and pop in a timeframe. Then forget about it until you check Basecamp next. Instant headspace.