As a new year begins many of us optimistically set goals, make plans and feel a new sense of determination to see success. I know I do. It’s a time of year when I feel that a clean slate is really at my fingertips—my future is in my hands.
Goals are a far better idea than resolutions. Resolutions indicate a need to rectify undesirable traits. Goals are focused on creative ideas for building on things that are already going well, and perhaps trying something new that has been tickling the back of your mind.
WHAT WAS DONE RIGHT
However, before we start anew with a lofty to-do list, there is a pre-step that forms a solid basis for making good decisions for the future. This is a fail-safe method for personal and professional evaluation. Start by compiling a list of all the things in 2007 that went right. Do not focus on anything that went wrong, or ways you feel you have not personally or professionally measured up. The past is the past. We are all painfully aware of our shortcomings. Rehashing them doesn’t help and usually makes us feel worse about ourselves. Instead, write down positive business achievements and personal successes. You may be surprised how much good is does for your soul. It may even provide some feelings of gratitude, which is a sure-fire way to encourage a good attitude for 2008.
Take a few days to let this list of “What I’ve Done Right” evolve. Perhaps it could be a document in your laptop or PC. Or it might be written in a notebook that is kept handy inside a desk drawer, a planner, purse or briefcase so you can write on the go as ideas and pleasant experiences come to mind. Or, you might even keep it in your nightstand where you consider and contemplate good things just before retiring or upon arising. It even could be posted on a bulletin board or your refrigerator door or your bathroom mirror.
Step 1: Wherever you keep this things-that-are-right list, there are some rules of the game.
• Focus on your strengths and don’t worry about someone thinking you are bragging about yourself. This is just for you right now.
• List people who were workable, pleasant and grateful for your services. Allow yourself to feel their friendship, belief in you or their gratitude for your professionalism and service.
• List projects that turned out better than you hoped; and ones that turned out as well as you hoped.
• Write down things that made you feel good and list those things this past year that has made your career and personal life satisfying.
• Review this list a few times before going to the next step.
Step 2: Begin a list of “Goals for 2008.” There are two ways to make this list. I prefer to brainstorm first. This can be done internally or externally. You can just ponder and not commit to any person, or you can talk your ideas through using someone you trust as a sounding board. Then start writing. The beauty of using a computer is that you can hit the delete button and hold it if you change your mind in January or in December or anytime in between. And you can add to the list without seeing what you erased.
However, there is something to be said for making a list in pen. That is, as the year progresses, you might find yourself being reminded of a goal, and because you’ll see if its crossed out or erased, you may not give up so easily on that goal.
Another rule: Be kind to yourself. These are goals not mandates. At the end of each subsequent year I’m often delighted that most of my goals have been successfully achieved. You might keep in mind a few affirmations as you accept the challenge. I especially like the one that goes like this: “It’s a miracle that I’m as good (or smart or talented or organized or achieving . . . ) as I am!”
This is a very forgiving attitude. It gives encouragement, but leaves room for a few small failures without condemning oneself and inevitably leads to greater optimism and determination to keep on keeping on.
IDEAS FOR GOALS
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with goals unless you have been thinking about it for some months. Perhaps your goal list will need to evolve. One goal this week, another added next week, for example. To jumpstart some worthy ideas for 2008, here are some suggestions:
• Forge a professional relationship or informal partnership with one or more builders. You might join the area chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or the local Chamber of Commerce.
Often real estate agents are familiar with quality builders who are good to work with and who are honest and dependable and who treat others fairly. These kinds of builders have the kind of clients who you want to become your clients. A word of advice: builders are very busy people who sometimes do not like to be bothered by interior design professionals. Always approach builders (and architects) with an attitude of admiration for their work. Try a “How can I help you?” attitude. General contractors are used to being the boss and resent being ordered around, so avoid a condescending attitude. Praise them and build them up. That’s doing the right thing.
• Another suggestion is to become more solidly educated in motorization. Refer to the June 2007 issue of D&WC, which is filled with useful information and resources. As you learn more about the technical side of home automation, you’ll also be more comfortable working with a general contractor or electrician when you are involved early-on in the building stage and during remodeling / refurbishing projects. You’ll be able to advise on planning window sizes, shapes, where the electric outlets will go for motorization, home theatre requirements and so on, thereby establishing credibility beyond decorating.
• Another goal is to set higher expectations for your bottom line. Creating a more profitable business is a continuing effort, to be sure. How about reading books, articles, or Internet resources about marketing how-tos? (For more, see “Making 2008 Your Best Year Ever!” on page 66). Do you have financial or accounting software? If not, that’s a worthy goal.
Increasing your business is realistic when you are realistic. Are you already maxing-out your abilities in time or energy? Then how about setting a goal to work more efficiently? Sometimes people want to work harder, faster, which often results in premature burnout, compromised health issues and potential harm to personal relationships.
• How about a goal to take a truly relaxing vacation (with cell phone turned off), say, every three months? In Europe they use the term holiday a lot. It doesn’t have to be a week long as long as you are away from work pressures. A one-day holiday may be enough to recharge. Remember when Sunday used to be a day of rest?
Giving your body and mind breaks actually helps you be more efficient and happier when you do work. Don’t try to work more; try to work better by being aware of your own personal, social, spiritual/emotional and physical needs. Take time for yourself, your friends, your loved ones. Gone are the days when to be a professional meant no personal life. Relax. Balance. Focus. Live happily and try to love others—you’ll love yourself more for it.
• Planning ahead might be another 2008 goal. Many creative people have difficulty in getting themselves disciplined. Perhaps you could enhance filing and office organizational skills. Perhaps you may desire to implement a computer software program or feature to help you plan your days, weeks and months better. When you do, you suddenly feel you are in charge of your life. On the other hand, if you rigidly schedule everything in life, you may need a reminder to schedule time for yourself.
• Learning more about design may be a goal. You might register for a certification course or a refresher design course, a seminar or other educational opportunity. (D&WC Southern Design & Workroom Conference, will be held February 28 to March 2. See page 23.) It might be becoming educated in a new area, such as green design. It could be learning a new skill. You might select and implement a computer software program or a product that can be used on-site to enhance your design skills and closing skills.
Lastly, select your goals wisely. Do not overload yourself with so many worthy goals that nothing is done well. Don’t try to do everything at once; save some goals for 2009. That’s doing it right!
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.