Why wait till January to start making resolutions for the new year? By then your year is already under way and you will find yourself in the whirlwind of all the usual issues and decisions.
December is the perfect time to practice some introspection and plan for things you want to accomplish in 2024. Below is a list of four things to consider starting, and four things to think about stopping as the new year unfolds.
Be careful not to get overwhelmed by taking these actions all at once. Pick a few that are most important to you, then commit to a timeline for each of them. I’ve included the titles of some great books that can help you navigate many of these areas.
Four Things to Start Doing
1. Read at least one business-related book a month. Just like we eat food to nourish our bodies, reading nourishes our minds. Whether you like to read physical books or listen to them on your smart phone, try to complete at least one book a month. I personally fit in a lot of “reading” time listening to audiobooks – both on long drives, and regular commutes.
2. Practice personal accountability. If you are an owner, you don’t have a boss. So how do you keep yourself accountable? QBQ – The Question Behind the Question, by John G. Miller is a great book to help you ask yourself the right questions about your leadership style and personal accountability. Even if you’re not the owner of your company you’ll find QBQ very helpful in holding yourself accountable.
3. Work more ON your business – less IN it. As owners we tend to get immersed in the details of the day-to-day. While necessary when we’re first starting out, it’s important to pull ourselves out of doing the work. We need to spend more time building a sustainable business and an environment our people want to work in. I can’t think of any better book than the timeless, The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber to put you on this path.
4. Improve and document your processes and systems. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Have you tried to document all the processes and systems in your company, only to find them scattered through different computers, paper files, and online storage? When was the last time you updated your documents to match how your business operates today?
A fantastic segue to The E-Myth is a book called Systemology by David Jenyns. The author provides a concrete, easy-to-follow roadmap to help you document, organize, and improve the processes and systems in your company.
Four Things to Stop Doing
1. Selling products or services that aren’t profitable or useful. Sometimes we take on a new product or service and forget to evaluate its effectiveness on a regular basis. Make sure you aren’t selling something that doesn’t fit anymore with your company’s vision and mission -- or just doesn’t have any hope of being profitable.
2. Thinking you need to have all the answers. As leaders of our companies, we tend to be the person everyone goes to solve problems or answer virtually any question about your products or services.
I highly recommend you explore "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life". This fable by Marilee Adams teaches you to get out of traditional judgmental thinking to adopt a more “Questions-Based Thinking” approach. Instead of being the answer person you become a questions person allowing your team to become part of the solution.
3. Leaving Your Culture to Chance. Is your culture intentional – or did it just develop on its own? With some introspection you and your leadership team can establish the exact culture you want for your company based on your values and vision. Traction by Gino Wickman can help your company build an operating system to keep you on a solid path of growth and success.
4. Procrastinating. We’ve all experienced procrastination at one point or another in our lives. The key is to shake it off by adopting new habits. One of those is a good prioritization and time management system.
Steven Covey’s, First Things First is a great classic read to help you get back on track to work on things that may be less urgent but more important than a lot of the challenges you are faced with each day. While time management is important, prioritization is the real key to getting the right things done.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Choose your goals wisely, then take steady baby steps towards achieving them. Before you know it change will start to take hold in leaps and bounds.
Dominick Guarino is President & CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI), (nationalcomfortinstitute.com), the nation’s premier High-Performance training, certification, and membership organization. NCI is focused on improving consumer safety, comfort, health, and saving energy, and helping contractors grow and become more profitable. Dominick is a 2023 Inductee into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame. His e-mail is [email protected].