Resolutions and goals, both personal and business-related, fall into two categories. I call them Ladder resolutions and Treadmill resolutions. (just because I like naming things)
If you missed the part about Treadmill resolutions, you can catch up on it here. I am going to jump right in where we left off.
Ladder resolutions are a bit trickier: these are things that you don’t quite know how to accomplish. You know how everyone always tells you only to set goals that are specific and measurable? These resolutions are not.
While Treadmill resolutions can easily be translated into the do-this-thing-for-a-set-amount-of-time form, Ladder resolutions have an end goal – but no sure-fire way of getting there. A common example of a Ladder resolution is to make an x amount of money by a certain date. (Actually, this is probably the worst possible example of a resolution or a goal, ever – but let’s run with it anyway.)
You know how much you make now, and you know how much you would like to make – but how do you get from A to B? Nobody can tell you the exact path you need to take. The only thing you can do is to start moving in the direction that feels right. And that’s the tricky part: you can’t see past the first few steps. You can’t know for sure that this is the right direction; you just have to trust your instincts.
It’s a big mess of ladders, really, connected to each other at times, with dead ends but also short cuts, all extending into a fog which lifts only when you actually start moving. You don’t know which step might reveal a dead end, or which will take you in a slightly different direction – not until you take it.
(A series of hike trails would probably have been a better metaphor for this one, but it makes for a lousy name.)
While it’s impossible to guarantee results with this one, it is possible to do something, to take a step or two – yes, before January 1st.
The first step is often the hardest – not because it’s difficult to actually take it, but because we freeze in the face of unknown. What if it ends in a dead end? What if it takes you in the opposite direction? It’s hard to tell in the fog.
In fact, we often spend hours and hours researching all the possible steps we could take, and call that the first step. (Or the first 27 steps, as the case may be.)
The thing is, you don’t know. Not until you take the first step. No, not even if someone has done the exact same thing before and written a book about it. You don’t know if it will work for you.
The only way to find out is to try.
To take one step. To see for yourself what other steps it reveals, if it’s a dead end, or a short cut.
After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Yes, you might find out that particular direction is a dead end – but wouldn’t you rather know sooner than later? (Though it’s far more likely that this step will simply reveal two or more other possible steps to take.)
So here’s how I propose we do this:
Commit to a Ladder resolution – this has to be something you want bad enough, otherwise you will give up at the very first step that doesn’t go in the exact direction that you hoped it would. Then, think of some possible steps you could take. Even if you have no idea, you can come up with something.
Let’s take that vague making-more-money goal again. What are the possible steps that could take you there? Is it raising your rates? Bringing in more clients? Is it figuring out which kinds of projects bring in more money and focusing on those? Is it coming up with a completely different product or service?
All of those seem like they go in the right direction, but they are still a bit vague – the fog is still there, right? We need to break them down into smaller possible steps.
For example, raising your rates might start with rewriting your sales page for a specific product or service, clearly showing its value. Bringing in more clients might start with being more active on social media and expanding your network. (I should have mentioned that some of the Ladder goals may incorporate Treadmill goals, but you probably had figured that out by now.) A new product might start with brainstorming ideas. Focusing on higher-income projects only might start with time-tracking for a certain period of time.
Brainstorm a bunch of these. Then look at your list and pick one. My advice is to go with an easy step first, something you can complete quickly, be it emailing someone with a question or rewriting a sales page.
We want this step to be doable by January 1st. Maybe you can even manage more than one.
In either case, we’re building momentum and revealing more of the steps hidden by the fog – and that will help us make it happen in 2012.
Are you with me? Leave a comment below.
So what do you say? Are you with me?
Here is my Ladder resolution: I want my I’m My Own Boss organizer to be a hit by 2013. To me, this means it will be pre-ordered by stores. You know, the actual physical stores, not just online ones.
Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? I don’t think so. I have no clear idea how to get there, but it will likely involve more exposure, as well as publishing an undated version. For the moment, I am focusing on more exposure. Pitching it to magazines and asking for reviews is another possible step. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there, but an opportunity for some exposure presented itself with a guest post offer from the wonderful Sandi Amorim, and, of course, I jumped at the chance. So this was my first step: an in-depth look at why I created this organizer.
I’d love to hear your Ladder resolutions – and what you plan to do with them over the next ten days. And, because a little accountability goes a long way when building a habit, I’ll be checking in on Twitter daily with the #resolutionrevolution hashtag.
In the meantime, tell me your resolutions in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter or Facebook!