Arrange your list of resolutions in a logical order, such as immediate priorities and emergencies first or dividing the resolutions into a group that take action to achieve and those resolutions (like our item one above) that don't require any work on our part except for a firm resolve to take certain action whenever appropriate (in our case, when it comes time to recommending contractors, we'll put three top-level firms into the bidding rather than throw in a low-end, less-expensive ringer).
The University of Bristol conducted a study of 3,000 people regarding New Year's resolutions, and the results may be disheartening. Eighty-eight percent of resolvers ultimately failed to achieve their resolutions, even though 52% of the participants were confident at the beginning of success (Richard Wisemen, 2007). Men got a bump in success when they set small measurable goals to help them achieve their resolutions, e.g., losing a pound a week to help them along in an overall goal to "lose weight." Women got a success boost when they made their goals more public and shared their resolutions with friends.
Take a cue from the Bristol study and share your goals with friends and family, and also set small measurable goals to help achieve the resolutions that are most important to you. I know one designer, for example, who's always disorganized and hopelessly outdated with her notes from client interviews and job site meetings. She could set as a resolution, "I'd like to be a better organized interior designer in the New Year." That's a bit broad, however, and the sweeping nature of this resolution could easily set the stage for failure if she didn't break it down into smaller manageable action steps.
- I need to color code my client files so I can look them up faster in my office. Small incremental steps I could take: purchase colorful file tabs; start with one client and re-label their files with these color tabs; re-label other client files, starting with my most active clients first and working through the list.
- I need to create a system of better notetaking, hopefully maximizing my sketches with some kind of electronic filing system. A small incremental step would be to research systems online, coming up with a solution like the popular Evernote Smart Notebook from Moleskine (take notes, write, sketch, or draw in the notebooks; take a photo of any page in the book with the Evernote Page Camera app on your smartphone; and organize and file digital records of your work).
- I need to move away from manual interior design recordkeeping and explore larger online enterprise solutions for my interior design business, like Design Manager.
- My office has become messy and unmanageable! I'll take a day to focus on office de-cluttering. If I don’t use a book, catalog, sample, or other item, I will give it away, sell it, recycle it, or trash it.
My design partner Irwin Weiner and I realize that when you run your own design business, you’re busy almost all the time. Taking stock of your professional and personal life requires quiet moments of reflection, and you may not have that luxury. But consider the alternative: by default, your business will dominate and control your professional and personal life if you don't actively visualize the kind of business and everyday life you'd most like to have, and take action to make improvements.
What are your resolutions for your design business this year?
In November 2006, Manhattan-based blogger Jay Johnson and his partner Irwin Weiner, ASID applied the popularity of watching videos on the Internet to the house-and-garden arena. The idea for Design2Share was born. On D2S, they share their insight, tips, and strong opinions about how people design and decorate their homes, entertaining over 300,000 visitors a year; their syndicated original videos had over 22 million video views in 2010.