Beware the Ideas of March

Image of the Assassination of Julius Ceasar

The year is marching on, isn’t it?

All those New Year’s Day vibes have worn off completely. We’ve returned to the everyday slog of our businesses.

How are your resolutions? What’s happening with your goals? Are they buried under your day-to-day tasks, forgotten?

It’s a sad state. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can re-boot your business anytime you want. And what better day than the Ides of March?

This midway point — in a month that’s still in the first quarter of the year — provides you an opportunity to look at what you’ve accomplished so far and make plans based on reality, not on hope.

Without the rose-colored glasses of the New Year’s goals you set, you can see more clearly what you need to do to meet your objectives. You can make plans based on what is, rather than what you wished for.

And you know what? Plans that are based on reality always work better than wishes anyway. ;-)

Here’s how to develop your own Ideas of March:

1. Create space for thinking

Block out some time and turn off all distractions. Grab a calendar, some paper, or a text file on your computer, and gather the plans you made at the beginning of the year.

Look at those plans to see how they line up with what’s really happened in these first ten weeks of the year. Use the tips below to guide you.

2. Make sure your foundation is in place

Before you aim for lofty goals, make sure you’ve got a firm foundation under you.

Because no matter what your plans for your business, if these things aren’t set up, your base is going to be weak.

  • Do your business name, tagline, and brand align and reflect what you offer to your prospects? If not, work on this first.
  • Do you have a solid website for your business that’s easy to use and looks polished?
  • Do you have a system in place for developing leads? This can be email marketing, speaking gigs, a guest posting strategy, a “freemium” model, or something else. You’ve got to have something set up to attract people to your business.

If any of these items is weak or missing, focus there first. Build your foundation, then you can expand your reach.

3. Look back

As you look back at what you planned to accomplish this year, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are my goals the same, or have they changed? There’s no harm in changing your goals. Sometimes you have new information to work with, or the business climate has changed. You have to respond to what’s happening right now, so if your January 1 goals aren’t working any more, change them.
  • Am I making enough time to work on my most important goals? If the day-to-day tasks involved in running your business are getting in the way of working toward your goals, decide right now what you’ll change so you can make real progress in the weeks and months ahead. See the next section for how to make it happen.
  • How have my results been so far? Are sales what you expected? Are your email subscriber numbers where you wanted them to be? Are your fans, followers, comments and overall interaction at the level you’d hoped for? Take stock of your current situation.

4. Look forward

What will you do with the 42 weeks ahead of you? That’s still plenty of time to make a real impact on the direction of your business.

As you recalibrate your goals and look ahead, take the time to set up a structure so you’ll be successful.

Try these tactics:

  • Decide on a handful of projects to focus on. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
  • Break your goals into small steps. Set deadlines for the milestones and put them on your calendar.
  • Put aside time every day to work toward your most important goals. If daily effort isn’t practical, block out longer sessions over several days. Turn off everything and put your head down to accomplish your tasks.

Beware the Ideas of March

They’re more practical and powerful than the wishes of January 1.

How will you put the Ideas of March to work for your business? Share your techniques, advice and encouragement in the comments: I want to hear from you!

About the author

Pamela Wilson


Pamela Wilson is Director of Special Projects at Copyblogger Media. Follow her on Twitter or Google+, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

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Comments

  1. I’m right on track because my New Year’s resolution is always to make no resolutions. However, I am constantly working toward my goals. I have general assignments and dates set and I stick with them.

  2. “There’s no harm in changing your goals. ”
    I think a lot of people are afraid of shifting gears because they hold onto the hope that if they just stick it out a little longer what they want to happen will happen. But sometimes you have to recognize the situation has changed and you need to change in order to keep up.

  3. Hello Pamela
    Your advice has come at just the right time for me. Thank you so much!

  4. Hi Pamela,

    Your post is so timely for me. I was just re-evaluating my goals for 2013. Like most, I certainly made some resolutions related to my online business objectives. I am pretty well sticking with them. The only thing I changed was that I started a new blog that caters to the needs of the readers of my main site.

    The new blog is starting to do quite well. Just yesterday I introduced a new challenge there. It really is aimed at the beginner bloggers or the ones whose blogs are not performing so well.

    I called the challenge “How to make money blogging – 60 minutes to success”. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

    I guess, the bottom line is that one has to continuously oversee their online business to determine what is working, how to better something that is not working as well, and primarily to stay focused and not jump from project to project.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful article with us.

    Cheers,

    Dita

  5. Thank you! This a great reminder, not only that it’s okay change or “edit” my goals, but that it’s okay to do so in business and in everyday life.

  6. This post is quite timely and very applicable. I often share with clients and even blog readers the importance of setting actionable goals. It’s nice to have a wish, but a wish doesn’t get you anywhere, except excited for a brief moment. But a real goal, with specific objectives and dates, can be something that truly helps you move forward. And this point in the quarter/month/year, is an excellent time to evaluate those goals.

    The most important point you made was not to spread yourself too thin. Very big point! It’s better to do one or two things well than to do ten or twelve poorly or not at all. Once you get those few things done or well in-hand, you can always expand to tackle the next goal or task.

  7. Thanks for the article. That’s right on target, for me especially.

    I am now on my goal no. 2. The 1st is to have a blog and the 2nd is to extensively practice kitchen skills and home management stuff so that come middle of the year, I can specialize or create a niche for this “general-topic” blog of mine. Experts say it’s best to create a niche first before launching into the blogosphere. I didn’t get to follow that because I was so eager to get the feel of things, practice, experiment etc. The readers are just my friends for now. :-) And some occasional “strays.” Besides I felt I have so much more to share. The only thing I need is time. So this is the reality check for me – the time I can dedicate to implementing things for my blog.

    You know, it feels kinda good to hear from an expert and compare it to my current status and see that I’m not really out of track. That just goes to show that if we really work on our goals – the SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals) we will really be seeing goals turn to reality. So for a beginner, with very relative criteria, I would dare to give myself a 6.7! :-)

  8. I love the twist on “ides” of March to “ideas” of March. I too really like to re-evaluate as I go along. Thanks for a great post. blessings, Amy

  9. I’ve been watching this Copyblogger post with great interest because of the headline. It’s different than what I usually see here. It’s more of a “Chris Brogan” headline.

  10. Thanks for the timely reminder! I like your 3 foundations: name, site, leads. Check, check, now let’s generate!

  11. Well, the beginning of this year was a little weird for me. I moved back into Madison Wisconsin after living in California. And I can’t say that I’m to happy about the weather here. But, as an entrepreneur you try to focus on the “what’s next,” not the “holy crap! What do I do now?”

    Looking back at my businesses that have failed in the past, I can say that I have set my sights higher this year then any other year.

    Once I moved back here in Madison a bug went up my butt to get my “stuff” together and work hard. Harder then I have ever worked before.

    You know what? It’s been a pretty darn good start of my year!

    You know what’s funny about this post? I was just thinking to myself, “Oh boy, what do I do now?”

    And after reading this, I can say that I’m encouraged.

    Thanks Pamela Wilson for writing this,

    Alexander John

  12. Great insight, Pamela. Thanks for these salient points.

  13. I quit my job on the Ides of March. Sad to say that it wasn’t to set out on my own ventures — I just got a job with a different company — but it is a step up and will hopefully lead to setting out on my own soon. I appreciate your encouragement.

  14. In general, i never know from day to day if I’m going to win. All i know is that I’m determined not to lose. Sure, i have big plans. Little plans fully successful will yield equally little. So, the idea is to challenge oneself. One giant leap may only get me a broken leg. One small step may be enough reason to quit. Somewhere in between is that happy place where I see advancement. Be it small or great, it helps. Slow progress is better than no progress. Move the ball forward. i deal with resistance as it comes. Good article.

  15. Hi Pamela,
    Awesome post, and so very true! I think one sentence says it all in your article ; “make plans based on reality, not on hope.” I felt a bit of guilt when I read this particular sentence but that’s good motivation! Well, this year, I didn’t really make any resolution. I don’t think it works for me! It may work for others but in most cases, they’ve all vanished after mid January lol!

    Paragraph number 4 ” Looking forward” is my favorite and it’s definitely the best way to approach this “failed resolutions”, if I may say so! I used to think this way back at school too! ‘Ok, I have 3 months left to prove that I can do this” rather than ” Oh, what have I done, or what if I had done….”!!

    Fighting resistance– and it’s millions of different forms– is the way forward! I also agree with Louis Thibault’s comment about slower progress being better than no progress!

    You guys have a great day!

    Yoan

  16. Actually a very good point to start looking both back and ahead when you are in march :-) It’s fun how we always focus on the news year eve, while it would probably be better to do it monthly or at least quarterly ..

  17. Very good post. I like the idea of turning off all distractions and have some moment to think things through