New year and the beauty of a blank slate

By Eric Grimstead for the BBJ

It’s another new year and January 1 brings with it a host of opportunities for new beginnings.

The question is, ‘What do you want to do with this blank business canvas?’ The beauty of this time is that it offers the opportunity to imagine new possibilities, where you can accomplish almost anything…reinvent your business and become a new you.

You might ask yourself:

  • Do you want to fill this year with the same distractions, or focus on new opportunities?
  • Do you want to have greater focus in your work? Be more organized?
  • Would you like to simplify your life? Maybe get your finances in order?
  • Do you want to feel in control as you chart your business course? Or just drift along, riding the waves?

And from the Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” you might first ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’

To answer that question, I would like to first encourage you to pause and reflect back on 2019 to see what you’ve learned about yourself, your business, your customers and various stakeholders. During this self-reflection exercise also acknowledge all that you accomplished in your last trip around the sun. This is about looking back at how the year went, how you did with your past intentions and goals, what went well and what did not go so well – without any judgment. The idea here is to help you recognize some of your work patterns and business struggles, while also seeing your victories clearly.

Then you can move on to setting your intentions for 2020. Don’t think “New Year’s resolutions” kind of stuff as those rarely stick. Instead think of being present & intentional about how you want to enter the New Year and what you want to be different when you look back on 12-31-2020. What old habits would you like to have dropped and what new habits would you like to have created?

Setting intentions might look something like:

  • Deciding what new projects to pursue and what old ideas can be left behind
  • Getting clear on a certain patterns of behavior that you’d like to change
  • Making a commitment to understand your financial statements
  • Setting a block of time aside for new learning opportunities every day
  • Eliminating ‘got a minute’ meetings so you can regain control of your schedule

The best way to make your intentions likely to happen is to create structure and an accountability plan so you keep moving forward even when things get off track. One way to do that is to have a monthly or quarterly review with an SBDC business advisor who can help you identify when a course correction is necessary.

These are just a few ideas, but you can see that with these elements in place, you’ll have the structure you need to make your intentions likely to happen. Cheers to a New Year!

Eric Grimstead is a Certified Business Advisor with the Small Business Development Center at Western Washington University. The WWU SBDC provides no-cost business counseling services to Whatcom County businesses.

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