How To Make Lasting Changes For New Year’s or Any Time Of Year

Any Time Is A Good Time For Healthy Changes

Setting goals (rather than taking the traditional ‘resolution’ approach) can transform your year!

Each year, many people make resolutions for change, and each year, most of those resolutions go…unresolved. This isn’t due to people’s lack of desire for a better life; it’s just a byproduct of the reality that change is difficult. Our habits become ingrained and automatic; changing them requires constant effort until a new habit is formed. This resource can help you to make necessary alterations in your expectations, attitudes, and methods of change so that you can experience real results that last. The following ideas can help:

Think in Terms of “Goals”, Rather Than “Resolutions”: While most people make resolutions that they’re determined to keep, a better tactic would be to create goals. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. With traditional resolutions, people generally approach change with the attitude, “From now on, I will no longer [name a given behavior you’d like to change]>” The problem with this is, after one or two slip-ups, people feel like failures and tend to drop the whole effort, falling easily back into familiar patterns. By setting goals, one instead aims to work toward a desired behavior. The key difference is that people working toward goals expect that they won’t be perfect at first, and are pleased with any progress they make. Rather than letting perfectionism work against them, they allow motivation and pride to do their magic. The following ideas can help you with meeting your ‘New Years Goals’:

  • Remember That It’s A Process: Expect to work your way up, rather than maintaining perfection and feeling let-down if you don’t achieve it immediately.
  • Work Your Way Up: In setting goals for new behavior, aim for once or twice a week, rather than every day. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll go to the gym every day,” plan for “every Wednesday” or, better yet, sign up for a fun exercise class, and you can work your way up to more often.
  • Set Yourself Up To Succeed: Set small, attainable goals, and add more steps as you complete each one. This way, you gradually work your way toward the life you want and the necessary changes, but you experience much more ‘success’ along the way, rather than feeling like a failure if you don’t experience ultimate change overnight.

Have A Goal Each Month: If you’re like most people, you may have several changes you’d like to make in your life; if so, it may be a good idea to tackle one each month. This way, 1) you can focus more, as you won’t be trying to make several sweeping changes at once; 2) you can re-commit yourself each month to a new idea, so you keep growing all year, and self-improvement becomes a way of life; and 3) you can build on each success, so you can first free up time before you take on a new hobby or get involved in an important cause, for example. Also, habits generally take 21 days to form. This setup enables you to devote energy to forming new habits more easily before moving on to the next, so you’re not relying solely on will-power.

Reward Your Progress: While many of your resolutions carry their own reward, changing your habits can be challenging, and it’s sometimes easier to do so if you have a little extra help. (Remember how positive reinforcement from a supportive teacher helped you learn, even though the knowledge itself was its own reward?) Providing extra rewards for yourself can help you to stay on track and maintain your motivation, even if you sometimes don’t feel like making the effort solely for the sake of the benefit the change itself will create. The following are ways you can create rewards for yourself:

  • Team Up: Have a buddy who knows your goals, and encourage each other, even if you’re working on separate goals. This will provide you with someone who can give you a high-five when you deserve one, and a little encouragement when you need it.
  • Reward Small Successes: Divide your goal into bite-sized steps and have a reward waiting at the completion of each.
  • Align Rewards With Goals: Have rewards that are in line with your achievements (like new workout clothes for every 5 gym visits, or a beautiful new pen if you stick with your journaling habit for two weeks).

As for the goals you set, it’s important that you choose your goals wisely, or it will be hard to make them stick. You also want to pick goals that will really help improve your life, so the effort will have a nice payoff. I suggest these Top 10 Resolutions for Stress Relief or these Top 5 Changes for a Healthy Lifestyle. Good luck!

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide

 

Vision, Strategy, and Tactics

  • Vision: What you want the organization to be; your dream.
  • Strategy: What you are going to do to achieve your vision.
  • Tactics: How you will achieve your strategy and when.

Your vision is your dream of what you want the organization to be. Your strategy is the large-scale plan you will follow to make the dream happen. Your tactics are the specific actions you will take to follow the plan. Start with the vision and work down to the tactics as you plan for your organization.

Concepts Are The Same

Whether you are planning for the entire company or just for your department the concepts are the same. Only the scale is different. You start with the vision statement (sometimes called a mission statement). When you know what the vision is you can develop a strategy to get you to the vision. When you have decided on a strategy, you can develop tactics to meet the strategy.

Vision

A vision is an over-riding idea of what the organization should be. Often it reflects the dream of the founder or leader. Your company’s vision could be, for example, to be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US”, “the maker of the finest chocolate candies in London”, or “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest.” A vision must be sufficiently clear and concise that everyone in the organization understands it and can buy into it with passion.

Strategy

Your strategy is one or more plans that you will use to achieve your vision. To be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US” you might have to decide whether it is better strategy for you to buy other retailers, try to grow a single retailer, or a combination of both. A strategy looks inward at the organization, but it also looks outward at the competition and at the environment and business climate.

To be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” your strategy would need to evaluate what other companies offer management consulting services in the Southwest, which of those target non-profits, and which companies could in the future begin to offer competing services. Your strategy also must determine how you will become “the consultant of choice”. What will you do so that your targeted customers choose you over everyone else? Are you going to offer the lowest fees? Will you offer a guarantee? Will you hire the very best people and build a reputation for delivering the most innovative solutions?

If you decide to compete on lowest billing rates, what will you do if a competing consulting firm drops their rates below yours? If you decide to hire the best people, how will you attract them? Will you pay the highest salaries in a four-state area, give each employee an ownership position in the company, or pay annual retention bonuses? Your strategy must consider all these issues and find a solution that works AND that is true to your vision.

Tactics

Your tactics are the specific actions, sequences of actions, and schedules you will use to fulfill your strategy. If you have more than one strategy you will have different tactics for each. A strategy to be the most well-known management consultant, as part of your vision to be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” might involve tactics like advertising in the Southwest Non-Profits Quarterly Newsletter for three successive issues, advertising in the three largest-circulation newspapers in the Southwest for the next six months, and buying TV time monthly on every major-market TV station in the southwest to promote your services. Or it might involve sending a letter of introduction and a brochure to the Executive Director of every non-profit organization in the Southwest with an annual budget of over $500,000.

Firm or Flexible?

Things change. You need to change with them, or ahead of them. However, with respect to vision, strategy and tactics, you need some flexibility and some firmness. Hold to your dream, your vision. Don’t let that be buffeted by the winds of change. Your vision should be the anchor that holds all the rest together. Strategy is a long-term plan, so it may need to change in response to internal or external changes, but strategy changes should only happen with considerable thought. Changes to strategy also should not happen until you have a new one to replace the old one. Tactics are the most flexible. If some tactic isn’t working, adjust it and try again.

Manage This Issue

Whether for one department or the entire company, for a multi-national corporation or a one-person company, vision, strategy, and tactics are essential. Develop the vision first and hold to it. Develop a strategy to achieve your vision and change it as you have to to meet internal or external changes. Develop flexible tactics that can move you toward fulfilling your strategy.

By F. John Reh, About.com Guide

Recognize a Winning Business Idea

To gauge future success, know how the concept will help the target market and whether it will fit into how those customers identify themselves

By Karen E. Klein

Which are the best business ideas: those that tap into our seven deadly sins, or those that fix a pain or solve a problem? —C.C., New York

The answer to your question depends on details such as your target market, production costs, and price point. For instance, take tax planning vs. wealth management. One is an essential service that sells at high volume to a wide audience, but at a price that can approach that of a commodity. The other sells to a smaller niche, but appeals to customers willing and able to pay more.

Another concept to mull is that wants and needs may not be so far apart. Indulging one’s greed or pride may be the flip side of solving a problem or stopping a pain, says Peter Sheahan, chief executive officer of ChangeLabs, an Australian business consulting firm with U.S. headquarters in Denver. “The problem is the pain,” he says, “and the pain is we want more of our seven deadly sins. All human desire comes from a form of dissonance—dissonance just being a fancy word for a gap, and a gap just being a metaphor for the space between where we are now and where we want to be.”

Traditionally, business ideas that solve problems seem to be most effective, although sometimes a new product or service solves a problem that people aren’t consciously aware of until they see the solution. Still, if you can identify the problem in a compelling fashion, your message may be easier to get across.

“I always feel like fixing a pain is best, since more people can really relate to that. They’ll be more willing to listen to your marketing message if you’re solving a problem or taking away their pain,” says Sarah Shaw, a consultant at Entreprenette.com.

Jordana Jaffe, a business consultant and life coach at Quarter Life Clarity, agrees that people are often so fixated on a nagging problem or annoyance that if you can fix it for them, your business will excite and empower them. “We’re always so consumed with what isn’t working in our lives,” she says. “When we’re introduced to the possibility of those things becoming easier for us as a result of this possible solution, life suddenly feels lighter and easier and more possible.”

Human Drives

Sheahan recommends that, rather than framing your business idea on the “sin vs. survival” scale, you should structure its appeal more around human drives, a term he derives from the evolutionary biology research of Paul R. Lawrence of Harvard Business School.

Lawrence talked about the universal human drives to acquire, to bond, to comprehend, and to defend. If you can tap into as many of those drives as possible with your product or service, you can predict how explosive your idea will be. “I once did a program with Sega tracking mega blockbuster video games over the last 20 years,” Sheahan says. “All of them had tapped into three of the four human drives.”

What’s most important with a business idea is to identify your target market and become as familiar with your potential clients as possible. “If you’re looking to sell to the high-end, luxury market, your product or service may be something that people might think of as indulging a sin. Just make sure your marketing matches your target market,” Shaw says.

You may have a choice of messages, depending on how you want to position your business idea. Does plastic surgery indulge the sin of vanity, or take away the pain of aging? Do decadent chocolates appeal to the sin of gluttony, or solve the problem of sugar cravings? Whichever way you go, make sure your brand appeals to your customers’ interest in defining themselves, Sheahan says. “Brands say something about us. Think Brooklyn Circus for those that want to be seen as on the fringe, consider Tom’s Shoes for those who want to be seen as evolved and empathetic, and think of Ralph Lauren for those that want to be preppy. What do those brands satisfy? Lust and pride, just to name two,” he says.

[Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.]

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Provide constant celebrations of your client’s successes

Stan Mann, Success Coach stan@stanmann.com

Welcome to secret number 5!  You have learned how to be in the right frame of mind to create a 7 figure business and a free life filled with bliss; how to have prospects compelled to call you and meet you; how to easily without selling share your unique service offering; how to WOW your customers and now you are ready to provide constant celebrations of your customers success.

Many people wonder what I mean by a customer’s success.  Let me address this right away.  When a customer hires your company or buys your products or services that in itself is cause for a celebration of them making a great decision.  I instantly celebrate their success with a letter, note, brownies and other items.  I write personal note cards as well.

When else could a customer have success?  Here are some examples in my own personal life of my success as a customer of other people where I wasn’t acknowledged and could have been.  I had an expert re-do my social media look.  When this was done a celebration was in order.  I had my attorney file my papers for my foundation and no celebration occurred.  And I reached a major medical change for the better and my doctor missed the celebration opportunity.

How many of these opportunities do you miss?  Each time you miss one you show the customer they aren’t really special, you don’t really care deeply about them and you certainly aren’t exceeding their expectations.

Today I want you to think about all the celebration’s you could be having.  Create a big list.  Include holidays, birthdays, purchases, milestones and anything else you can think of. Be a bit wild and crazy and include as much as you can.

Then pick at least one item and implement that with every customer.  In a week or so create a list of 12-24 ways you will celebrate each of your customers regularly.  The sky is the limit so have great fun coming up with these items.  When you see how much your customer’s appreciate you caring about them and again wowing them, you will be excited to do more and more celebrating.

I celebrate all my customer’s because they are my customers.  They are my extended family and I acknowledge and honor and celebrate them regularly.

 

Client Retention Through Presence

Retaining clients comes down to one thing and this is whether or not your business is capable of adapting to the changing needs of your client. Identify and use communication skills to bring value to your business relationship. You enhance your own self-awareness, AND you remove the blocks distancing you from hearing what a client is saying over the phone, the internet, or as they stand right in front of you. Being able to stay in the present moment and meet the desires of your client as their needs and preferences change is how you maintain clients.

The way you keep clients is by getting out of the way of yourself and any of your own listening or emotional blocks. The actual skill you hone is called active listening. And, with active listening, when a client speaks, you not only listen, but you also use reflective listening when you repeat or paraphrase back their need to them. Assuming that everyone else communicates, listens, or learns exactly like you is unrealistic. The way you win every time is by:

(1) Knowing what your own communication style, listening blocks, and learning styles are and,

(2) What the other communication styles, listening blocks, and learning styles are so that you can objectively identify whether or not the client has similar or dissimilar styles.

By identifying your client’s preferences, you can then adapt how you interact with them. You can enhance the quality of your business relationship by also using empathy to see from their point of view. With increased self-awareness, we interact more compassionately and empathetically with others. This releases both parties’ emotional blocks, attracting clients to stay with you, rather than to go their separate ways.

Read below how to identify your own communication style, listening blocks, and learning styles. We’ll also cover how to use these skills to your client’s advantage.

  1. 1.       Identify Communication Styles

Do you know your communication style? Click here to take the Communication Style Quiz. Are you passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive when you communicate? The good news is that everyone can become a more assertive communicator. Being able to articulate your thoughts and feelings ensures conflicts are kept to a minimum.

As you get to know your client better, you can often figure out what their communication style is by the way they interact and approach a sale or setback. You can further learn about gender differences in buying/selling to enhance your retention rates by taking the Gender IQ Quiz or the Gender Based Sales Training Program.

  1. 2.       Notice, then Eliminate Your Listening Blocks

There are about 12 listening blocks that everyone has when someone else is talking. Becoming aware of which listening blocks you use on a consistent basis will help you eliminate them, because you become more cognizant when they creep into a conversation.

The 12 listening blocks are:

a)      Comparing

b)      Mind reading

c)       Rehearsing

d)      Judging

e)      Dreaming

f)       Identifying

g)      Advising

h)      Sparring

i)        Being Right

j)        Derailing

k)      Placating

By identifying the listening blocks you use, you then consciously shift your attention back to your client (or anyone for that matter) before they even know you’ve drifted. This alleviates miscommunication, conflict, and stress. Why? You hear the person correctly the first time. Click here to find out if you are a good listener.

I often direct my client’s to the listening block article so they can figure out what types of listening blocks they use. This immediately adds value to what you’re offering if you’re selling services, because you are also teaching greater self-awareness. If you’re selling a product, you may not necessarily have your client identify their listening blocks. Your cognizance of these blocks enables you to pick up on when your client’s attention wanders so you can quickly re-focus them.

  1. 3.       Identify Learning Styles

There are 3 ways we learn information: audio, visual, and kinesthetic. Identify which is your primary and secondary learning style as well as your client. One easy way to do this is by noticing the type of language you and your client use while negotiating contracts.

  • Audio learners tend to resonate with: “I hear…,” “it sounds like…”
  • Visual learners tend to respond well to: “I see…” and “it looks like…”
  • Kinesthetic learners tend to say things like: “it makes sense to me,” “it feels good…”

Use all 3 ways until you figure out their preference. Or just ask outright what ways they prefer to learn information so that you can better explain your services and products to them.

Surpass Their Needs by Utilizing Feedback

If you meet their needs and exceed their expectations, then you will retain them as clients. As you meet and do business with them do check-ins often. Ask clients to rate how well you are doing, or how well they are satisfied with your service or product. When it comes time to renew a contract, you can refer back to these tests and measurements, as well as the different communication skills you’ve helped them enhance as value-added benefits for what it is you can do for them.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations