Measuring Success in '17

No matter how you slice it, we conduct business daily, and January is as good a time as any to assess your practices, see what needs growth and attention, and what habits need to go by the wayside.

Normally, success for business or non-profit is based on finances, and such entities have learned to market their success by number of people impacted positively by their efforts. Volunteer hours, number of animals rescued, number of children nourished, number of elderly served, and even number of burgers served are a few examples. Numbers and quantitative data are certainly important. However, qualitative achievement should also measure your success so you can see growth as both a person and as a businessperson.

Whether you dress each day for an office, classroom, storefront, farm stand, or your own kitchen at home, you are a business person. You make important decisions all the time based on the business of your day. Perhaps you run a company or organization with a board of volunteers at a non-profit or school. You might be a stay-at-home parent in which case your business decisions are not only financial but extremely personal; your business decisions directly impact your kids.

Here are areas to consider when reviewing your plans and goals for 2017:

COMMUNITY: Help make something better. Volunteer because you want to better something in your town, city or even the world – not because you want to improve your resume. See a need and address it. Be a contributor and not a complainer. What are causes or groups of people or animals would you find value in helping? Your time is just as valuable as your money. Don’t have much of either? Then think of something else you can do behind the scenes at your convenience that will help a group in your community or beyond.

PHYSICAL HEALTH: What specific steps do you need to take to improve your physical health? What is realistic? What can you do on your own without having to depend on another person? If you need to put a post-it on the fridge to keep you on track, then do it. If you think you are too busy to exercise, you’re wrong. If you’re starting from scratch, make an appointment on your own calendar for five minutes of exercise each day. Just five. Then DO it no matter where you are. At the office? Take the stairs for five minutes. At the grocery store? Walk faster down every aisle. If the five minutes go quickly and you have a few more to spare, then continue. Increase the time frame when it works for your schedule. You’ll find that you can build exercise into your daily life – just plan better. Make conscious decisions about what you drink and eat.

MENTAL HEALTH: Happiness, kindness, diplomacy and generosity are contagious. Think happier thoughts, and you'll be a happier person, and this aura will rub off on others. You can apply this advice to both business and personal relationships. Face it, much of our mental health depends on our interactions with other people. If particular people add toxins to your day, then reduce your exposure to them. Assess what you can do to reduce the frustration you feel. You cannot control others – nor should you try to – but you can control your reactions. If guilt trips are part of your style, eliminate them; those aren’t good for anybody. In the business of your day, consider the many pieces of great advice that you’ve heard before when dealing with others who stress you out:

  • Take a few deep breaths.

  • Don’t be a doormat.

  • Think before you speak/text/email/post.

  • Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

  • If you run into three or more jerks in a day, chances are that you’re the jerk.

  • Be a problem solver – not a problem maker.

  • Treat others as you would like to be treated.

  • Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Friends: Adult friendships can wax and wane just as those in middle school do, and that’s okay so long as the relationships you maintain are healthy. Make decisions about who to spend time with and who makes the time to be with you. Think about the quality of the time you spend together. How does that person make you feel when you are together?

Colleagues: How you treat others at work directly impacts how they treat you. Go beyond the minimum of your job requirements. Think beyond your pay grade. The worst kind of manager is one who doesn’t lead by example. Kind of like the parent who says, “Eat your vegetables, but I don’t have to eat any because I’m in charge.” Do more than is expected of you without letting anyone take advantage of you.

Strangers: Do you step aside to let someone pass on the sidewalk? Do you make sure you park inside the lines? Or do you think you own every piece of ground you possess for a moment? Be a kind citizen. Hold the door for someone.

MONEY: Make it, save it, give it, and spend it as needed. Just as you need to be realistic with your mental and physical health, be realistic with your money. Be generous when you can, but pay the bills first. If you’re a parent, teach your children what a budget is when they are young. Explain the value of a dollar. Teach the value of what money can – and can’t – do. Identify where you need to improve. Do you save anything? Do you spend it all? Are your bills paid? If you plan for your kids to go to college, how are you preparing for that? Or are you more concerned about having the latest wireless speakers? Make your money - then make it do what it needs to do to benefit your family and others.

There are multiple ways to measure success, and the areas above are merely the tip of the iceberg. At the end of any day, a healthy you makes for healthy relationships, and those cultivate growth in your work – both paid and unpaid. Make 2017 the year when you make effort in all of these categories and not just the bottom line in the bank account.

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Copyright 2015 Darcy P. Smith Creative