Accomplishing long term goals is difficult – there’s a reason only 8% of people are able to successfully maintain their New Year’s resolutions for the entire year. As our Managing Partner Steve Mayer wrote in the most recent chapter of his upcoming book, personal goals are more likely to be accomplished if they can be broken into smaller, attainable pieces.

Motivation is fleeting, and even the strongest-willed resolutions often get postponed indefinitely or forgotten completely. This is why it’s important to have a system in place that will help hold you to those goals.

In an effort to follow through with my New Year’s resolution of saving money this year (my vacation fund is looking sadly depleted), I’ve decided to participate in SDM’s 52 Week Challenge. For each week of the year, we save an increasing amount of money and deposit it into a bank account, as seen in the chart here. For example, during the first week of January, $1 was deposited into the account, during the second week, $2 were deposited, and so on.

By the end of the year, I will have saved $1,378 without much perceived sacrifice or effort on my part. There are also a number of modifications that can be made to the challenge to suit your goals. For instance, last year, some of my coworkers pledged an extra $50 for each paycheck they received, while others made an extra payment each month.

Of the people in the office who took on the 52 Week Challenge last year, every single person completed it, and many were able to save well past the expected amount by adjusting the challenge to fit their individual goals.

In order to actually follow through on my resolution to save money, I decided to sign up for the Challenge along with my coworkers who do it annually. Of the people in the office who took on the 52 Week Challenge last year, every single person completed it, and many were able to save well past the expected amount by adjusting the challenge to fit their individual goals. Every Tuesday at the office, one person collects our payments and if one of us does not have it, we will schedule time to go to the bank with them.

So why does the 52 Week Challenge work? Because it works systematically to break down a daunting task of saving nearly $1500 into smaller, easily achievable steps, while simultaneously creating a system of accountability that requires us to follow through with our goal. Rather than relying on my own (admittedly weak) willpower to stick to my resolutions, I can depend on the system and my co-workers to make sure I’ve made my payments, just as they did. The Challenge transforms my seemingly large New Year’s resolution into a manageable, 10-minute addition to my work week.

Similarly, at SDM, we rely on software systems like NetSuite to manage our business and keep track of our goals, due dates, and tasks. By automating day-to-day activities within NetSuite, the system holds us accountable, instead of trying to remember the items on our own. For example, every Monday, a scheduled report of outstanding leads is sent to our practice leaders, which prompts them to then follow up. This converts the time-consuming task of sorting through the data and determining what to do with it, into an automated report with actionable steps delivered directly to those who need the information.

Whether it’s using NetSuite to manage client projects and keep track of records, checking in with our clients four times a year to make sure all of their questions and concerns have been addressed, or participating in the 52 Week Challenge, systems are integral to the work we do at SDM.

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