I love to write short stories that offer inspiration to those who read them. I have decided to capture these stories in a book that I hope to publish in 2016 (or maybe 2017 or 2018). Every few months, I will send out another chapter that I am considering for the book so that I can get some feedback. Please note each story is only the introduction to the chapter, not the entire chapter. I value your comments, thoughts, and observations—so please send them to me!

It is New Year’s Eve and all of us will be setting new year’s goals and resolutions for 2016. I am not sure where this custom started, but regardless of what day of the year, we have all made a list of our goals from time to time. I think the secret to accomplishing any goal is to either make it really easy, or to make it really important to you personally.

I remember when I was in the fifth grade and it was around Christmas time, I decided I wanted to buy presents for my family. Between my mom and dad, brothers and sisters, and my grandparents, I had to buy nine presents. I counted my money and realized that the $25 I had wasn’t going to go too far. I remember my dad told me to save a couple of dollars each week from my paper route and by December the following year, I would have enough money for presents.

It seemed pretty simple and it was important to me, so each and every week for the next year I put $3 in an envelope that I kept hidden in my closet. For the entire year I diligently saved my money, and when I counted it in early December, I had saved about $140 and could easily buy Christmas presents for everyone in my family.

For me, this method worked because it was easy and because it was personally very important to me to have a Christmas present for each family member. The lesson I learned stayed with me throughout the years. It is interesting because ever since I started my first job, I have always put aside a portion of money for savings of some sort—buying a house, college for the kids, preparing for retirement; even now, I find myself putting away a little money to pay for the weddings of my three children.

Over the past 50 years my goals have changed, but I still believe if you keep them simple and personal the chance of reaching those new year’s goals is much higher. Simple doesn’t mean that the goals are so easy they don’t “count,” and personal doesn’t mean the goal itself is all about you, but rather that it is important to you.

In business I believe it is important that the leaders of the organization encourage their employees to align their business goals with their personal goals. It is not always easy, and too often the goals become unrealistic or too much about the business and less about the individual. After running a variety of businesses for over 30 years, here are 11 new year’s goals you might want to consider:

  • Strive to be happy and optimistic. No one likes a sourpuss or a complainer.
  • Think before you say something. Remember, sometimes it is better to let people wonder if you are an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  • Eat healthy. Get enough exercise. You will live longer and you will look and feel better.
  • Impress people with your effort and attitude. What people think about you is much more important than what they say about you.
  • Try your best at work. You are being paid for a full day, so make sure you earn it. Extra credit goes a long way.
  • Get to know your co-workers. Everyone has a name and a story. Try to put faces and names together along with their stories.
  • Dress sharp. Be proud of how you look. Well-dressed people make great first impressions.
  • Take great care of your clients or customers. If you don’t take care of them, someone else will and they won’t be your clients or customers anymore.
  • Be nice to people who are lower on the food chain than you are. Remember, what goes around comes around and we all put our pants on one leg at a time.
  • Inspiration is critical. Every day be inspired by something or someone, and every day try to inspire someone by something you do or say.
  • Have balance in your life. Very few people in their last gasps of air say, “Gee, I wish I would have spent more time at work.”

“The road to success is always under construction.” –Lily Tomlin

This seems like a pretty simple list of new year’s goals and resolutions, but let’s pretend it is a year later and you have accomplished all of these goals. Where would you be?

  • You would be happier and more optimistic. Good things happen to people with positive attitudes.
  • You wouldn’t say as many dumb things. What a novel idea.
  • You would be healthier, look better and have more energy. Hard to complain about that.
  • People would be impressed with your attitude and effort. I bet you will make more money and your future will be brighter.
  • You would always try your best at work, and your company would do better, which in turn benefits you and your family. This is a win-win for everyone.
  • Everyone would know each other better, and the “water cooler” conversations would be more about family and friends than about gossip. You will also probably get some good ideas of where to go on vacation.
  • You would look good and make great first impressions. Looking in the mirror and smiling at what looks back at you is a great confidence builder.
  • Your clients would love you, you would get more referrals, you would listen to fewer complaints and you would be given more compliments. Also when something goes wrong, you usually get a mulligan.
  • You would make others feel good and in return you would be treated better.
  • When you are inspired, good things happen. Take a few minutes and look up “inspiration” online- you will be glad you did.
  • You would have a life with lots of fulfillment, more success, and stronger friendships. Sounds pretty good to me.

Not a bad result. If you spend a year with these new year’s goals, I am quite sure 2016 will be a pretty good year. 

For more stories like this, check out my book, The Toughest Guy and Other Short Stories.

SD Mayer