Congratulations — you can assert your business has made it through another year — or maybe even its first year. But if you want to continue that streak of success, you need to commit to being a better entrepreneur next year than you were this year.
Maintaining a constant line of development means always honing your skills, learning new ones, and giving yourself more possibilities — so why not make some New Year’s resolutions for next year that will make you a better all-around entrepreneur?
Here are some of my top suggestions:
1. Make time for your physical health first. You spend so many hours at the office and there’s so much on your plate that you can’t even think about taking care of yourself. That needs to stop. No matter how busy your schedule gets or how much you want to accomplish in the business world, you have to make time for your own physical health first; you have to eat healthier meals (and eat regularly), get enough sleep every night, and exercise at least a few times a week. Keeping yourself in better physical shape will keep you in better mental shape, which means you’ll be able to do more in the hours that remain. Besides — what does business success matter if you’re sick and stressed all the time?
2. Practice more empathy. Empathy is a powerful and important quality for entrepreneurs and business leaders to have. Empathy means you’ll be able to better understand other people’s problems (including those of your customers). It means you’ll be more appealing to your employees and partners, and that you’ll be able to forge better relationships with everyone who can help your business grow. Take the time to listen to people, become aware of your own emotions, and think about the feelings of others.
3. Take at least one vacation. There’s no reason to spend the entire year working — even if you love your job. I know Donald Trump has tweeted “Don’t take vacation. What’s the point? If you’re not enjoying your work, you’re in the wrong job.” But I have to disagree. I love my job, and I love being an entrepreneur, but there’s a unique fulfillment that comes with enriching my life with new cultures, new experiences, and new places. It’s important to take some time away from the office so your mind can decompress, and so you don’t grow fatigued from seeing the same environment all the time. Whenever I take a vacation, I come back feeling renewed, more productive than before, and happier in general. Take at least one vacation next year, spanning at least a few days contiguously, and if you can, travel somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s good for you.
4. Set firm time limits, and stick to them. How long do you schedule your meetings to last, and how long do they actually run? How much time do you give yourself for certain projects, if you give yourself an allotment at all? Setting firmer time limits will help you squeeze more value out of the limited hours you have in a day, and will help you set better priorities in the process. Over time, you’ll learn where you’re spending the most and least time, and you’ll be able to adjust your approach accordingly, eventually maximizing your productivity.
5. Disconnect fully from work communication when away from the office. I get it. Like most entrepreneurs these days, I have a host of tools, platforms, and systems that I liked to stay logged into pretty much all the time. I get alerts on a constant basis, and have been pulled away from personal and family time because of it. I’ve had trips to the movies –even entire vacations — ruined by checking my emails or taking a business phone call. The truth is, if you’re like me, you have a business mindset and a non-business mindset, and the two are very different from each other. Taking a vacation and constantly checking your phone throughout your time away is not a vacation because it keeps you in business mindset. I’ve found that it typically takes me 2–3 full days without checking into my business in any way to actually slip into the non-business mindset — and just like a good night’s sleep, this is where I truly find that I’m able to mentally recharge. This year, when you take days off, take real days off. Disconnect from office communication entirely — no emails, no phone calls, no website checking, no Twitter, no Facebook, no anything else. I promise, there’s nothing that can’t wait or can’t be handled by someone else.
Remember, only eight percent of people are successful in keeping their New Year’s resolutions, so it’s not enough to simply make them — you have to follow through if you want to be successful. Take an honest look at your performance as a leader, as a boss, and as a businessperson, and ask critical questions about where your current weaknesses lie. The more honest and humble you are, the more you’ll be able to make up for those weaknesses, and start next year with positive momentum.