It is the first week of January. We all are back at work trying to recover from the holidays as the new year kicks into high gear out of the gate. Many of you likely made New Year’s resolutions. It could be one of the standards such as losing a certain amount of weight, starting an exercise program, drinking less soda, eating less candy, etc. Maybe it is something different and more personal to you. Or maybe it is work related such as meeting new professional contacts, listening better to others, or having more balance in your life.
The problem is resolutions are hard to keep. How many times have you had a resolution and it last for a week? Or maybe it lasted a month? Odds are you were not keeping the resolution by the end of that year (assuming it was something that would take a year to accomplish or was a permanent change you were trying to make to a behavior or habit).
If you made a New Year’s resolution, I propose you try something new. Have an action plan on how to stay on task to meet your resolution. To do so, make your resolution a SMART goal. I know many of you have heard this acronym before, and maybe even have set SMART goals in the past.
For those that haven’t, it stands for:
Resolutions generally fail because trying to do something or stop doing something by sheer force of will is a recipe to fail. If your resolution doesn’t fit within the SMART goal parameters, revise it so that it does – you will have a much better chance of success.
Know that your SMART goal/resolution may be achievable in less than year – remember one element is the time you think it will take to reach your goal. If you meet your resolution, come up with a new SMART goal. It doesn’t matter if it is January 1 or May 22. You should constantly look to improve yourself, your business, your life – well, you get the idea. Try it and see what happens.
- Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. ~ A.A. Milne
Yes, I just quoted the author of Winnie-the-Pooh. And he is right, which is both obvious and apparent, especially to those of us trying to stay organized. Let’s be honest, it is a constant struggle. You have your business life and your personal life. Some people keep separate calendars for each. Others are like me and keep one calendar for everything lest they miss anything.
And what works for me to stay organized and focused may not work for you, and vice versa. At home, I am having this challenge with my perpetually disorganized twelve year old daughter. At this point in time she fits the old saying “she would lose her head if it wasn’t attached.” In trying to advise her on organization, I have been speaking with her about what I do, and what others have told me they do, because I do not know what will work for her.
So, if you are not naturally organized, do you have a system? For instance, I use calendar reminders that are synced across my work and personal computers and devices, as well as using hand-written “to do” lists or lists I email to myself. What about you? Do you use a different method or combination of methods? Maybe certain software or an app?
As with most things, you should take time every so often to assess your state of organization….or lack thereof. Maybe you are reading this and realizing that your system or methods are failing you and you really are not as organized as you thought. If that is the case, you need to take action because disorganization leads to wasted time and lost money or opportunity. It could be forgetting to connect with the great lead you met last night at an event. Or it could be it causes you to have less time to spend with your family. Whatever it is in your life, disorganization is equivalent to loss.
Don’t let this happen to you. Take time to assess your level of organization. It might be working fine, or maybe it needs a tweak. Or maybe it needs an overhaul. If so, do it sooner than later because it will save you time and lead to time better spent personally and professionally.
And if you think you have a great system or method, please share it with me.
What is hot tomorrow won’t be forever. Today’s styles and trends likely will have changed by this time next year, if not sooner. You can look no further than general music trends from the ’80’s through now.
Back then rock ruled. Think Queen, Led Zeppelin, etc. Then glam rock became big – think of Guns-n-Roses, Motley Crue and Poison – only to be kicked to the curb by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and grunge rock. After that there was the era of the boys bands, and now pop and rap rule the charts and airwaves. And what artists or bands are popular changes all the time. And always did.
The same happens in the fields we all are in. Change is constant. It may be because of technology, which generally impacts all of us. It may be like in law, where new cases are published by Courts all of the time changing or narrowing the law. Or maybe you are an accountant and deal with the ever-changing tax code. If you think about it and are honest with yourself, you probably can name what has changed in your business in the first half of 2017.
Change actually is what keeps things interesting. In our evolving world, either continually adapt or get out of the way of those of us who do.
Life is long. You will work for a long time. There is no winning instantly. Success takes time. What you do each day matters for your future. The big picture makes living for today essential, which means having a plan and working it. By doing so you really are playing for the future, and for your first taste of, or your continuing, success.
The person you do a favor for today will help you tomorrow. The client you are honest with today will say good things about you to others in the future. This goes with the truth that everything is who you know.
This does not mean that what you know doesn’t matter. It is part of the puzzle that is success. The time you spend to be an expert at what you do is a play for tomorrow when you will be better at what you do than today, and so on and so on. Continual learning and improvement is part of the process.
So the long game is what you have to be playing. Yes, we all can step off of the curb and get hit by a bus at any time, but it is unlikely. By having a plan and working it you will be playing for tomorrow and set yourself up for attaining or continuing success.
Last week I spoke to the need for continuous self-improvement. Part of that is continually learning throughout your lifetime.
I have mentioned before that my firm has The JW Way, which encapsulates the firm’s unique culture (http://www.jaburgwilk.com/mission-statement). JW Way fundamental 17 is “Be relentless about continuous improvement.” This fundamental speaks to being a “lifetime learner” and notes that “Excellence is a journey, not a destination.”
You need to think about excellence as a continuing journey. The truth is if you strive for and achieve excellence, there still is more work to do. Continually achieving excellence involves an investment in yourself and in education.
Part of this is searching out the truth of whatever you are learning. That is your duty because if you can’t speak the truth you are simply spreading the equivalent of fake news. Despite what seems to be the trend, facts do matter. “Fake it till you make it” may work early on in some settings, but for most of us it will result in failure in the long run.
Most of us become experts in our given fields or professions over time because we do put in the proverbial ten-thousand hours and stay up on new innovations, information, etc., i.e. we continually educate ourselves. If you do not do this and try to ride the same wave of what you have done before you have higher chance of failure in the future. Or at least a higher chance of not achieving excellence and being mediocre while others in your field achieve excellence and pass you by.
If you are okay with that, with being mediocre, maybe you should be doing something else that intrigues and interests you enough that you will continuously educate yourself and continuously seek to achieve excellence.
You can do better. You can be better. Always. If you don’t think so you are only fooling yourself. You must invest in yourself.
If you put your money in a can and bury it in your backyard, it will earn nothing. If you invest these funds instead, they will have the chance to grow. The corollary is if you do not take the time to improve yourself, to learn, you will become stagnant and, in this fast-paced world, probably be passed by others. If you instead work to improve you will grow.
This also should involve improving in your given business or in your personal life. It can be class related to what you do or guitar lessons or for me, keep up with current legal opinions.
I know you are busy. I know you don’t think you have time. But the truth is you don’t have time not to invest in yourself. If nothing changes, well, you get thee idea.
So think about what you can do by investing in yourself. It not only can make you a better professional or person, it will help improve the world around you, your world.
As most readers are aware, I generally write about business related issues as opposed to legal issues. Today I am writing about a legal issue that, in a few months, will be a business issue for all Arizona employers. On July 1, 2017, Arizona employers will be subject to a new law on Paid Sick Time Off Policies. This is thanks to Proposition 206, which was passed last year.
I know you are thinking “I have a PTO policy, I must be good to go”, but you are not. Existing PTO policies do not comply with the requirements of. Prop 206, no matter how generous the policy is.
Instead of explaining more myself, I am providing you with a link to the answers to the top questions you will and should have regarding what is required of your business to comply with Prop 206. The information is provided by Kraig Marton and Jeffrey Silence of my firm and is a must read. This is the link you need:
If you have any further questions or want to discuss having a PST policy drafted, please let me know.
No one really makes it on their own. Everyone is part of a team, whether internally at their business or with partners at other businesses. Anyone who thinks their success is only attributable to their own actions is mistaken and myopic.
You need to know your colleagues. Does this mean you have to be best friends with everyone and know everything about them? Of course not. But it does mean you need to know more than their name and which office they are in.
For what I do, I need to know the practice areas of other attorneys at my firm. If not, how do I serve my clients and referrals generally and when they have needs outside of my practice area? I can’t, and then I lose and my firm loses, because I can miss valuable cross-marketing opportunities.
It sounds so simple: you need to know the services your business provides. It is easier in some businesses than others. In mine, it means I need to remember a lot of information or be organized enough to access it or know who to asks in a given situation. And when I need to ask, it is another time being on a team helps.
Internal teamwork also fosters trust and collaboration. Sometimes you are the quarterback running the offense and sometimes you are the receiver catching the ball from a leader or supervisor and running with it. If you do not have an effective team, there is a better chance the ball is dropped, which reflects badly on your business.
Of course teamwork can lead to situations where some people get more credit than others, even where other members of the team were necessary and did the actual legwork that resulted in the credit or accolades. Good leaders recognize those who lift them up and enable the recognition. Most of the time you see someone getting recognition or an award, there is a group of people behind him or her who are responsible. And without their teamwork, the project being recognized likely would have gone nowhere.
So remember that every member of your team is impactful and has a role to play because team work is the rule, not the exception.
One thing I have learned is to do things for others, yet expect nothing. That’s right, you need to rely on karma. Do good deeds and you will be on the receiving end in the future.
Connect people. Refer people. Forward that article you know your colleague, friend or family member will be interested in. Send a card or a letter – you know, the way we used to keep in contact before email and texting – and handwriting it may be good for bonus points too, i.e. know your audience. Or send a gift just because or just because you saw something you knew the recipient would appreciate.
And when other do these things for you let them know you appreciate it. It both closes the circle and starts the circle anew again.
Try it and see what happens.
We live in a fast-paced transactional world. With the speed everything moves people sometimes resort to a text, email or similarly transactional electronic thank you. But if you resort to relaying a thank you by email, text or social media flavor of the month it is destined for the electronic scrapheap and likely will not be remembered. Be different and either write thank you notes or call.
It takes more time, and, yes, you may have to buy stamps if you write, but it leaves a lasting impression. I remember when I receive a letter or card thanking me for something much more so than a quick email, text or LinkedIn message.
The same goes for making a call. It doesn’t have to be a long call, just long enough to say “thank you.” You would remember that kind of call, wouldn’t you? The answer is of course.
You want people to remember you. The few minutes to write or call do this. Thank you letters, cards and calls never will go out of style. So are you willing to invest a little time in yourself?