The New Year is almost upon us, thank goodness! We’re all looking forward to putting 2020 behind us, especially now that it’s looking likely that 2021 will end up being a better year for, well, just about everything. But that doesn’t mean we can sit back and wait for good things to happen to us. Nope, we still have to be vigilant and proactive. We still need to be practicing empathy for our neighbors, making good choices to keep ourselves, our friends, our family, and our customers safe, and we need to start planning ahead, now that there’s an “ahead” on the horizon. Being “back to normal” is still a long time off, but there’s still value in setting yourself up to be as productive and successful as possible in the coming year.
Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t a blog post about setting goals in the new year. In fact, we’re going to suggest you don’t set any goals for next year. We can already hear you thinking, Wait, what? Doesn’t every management guru and motivational speaker go on and on about the importance of setting goals? It’s true, they do! Or rather, they did. There’s been a recent shift in the way a lot of the experts are thinking in terms of systems instead of goals.
What’s the difference? A goal is an event that we see existing in the future; it’s something we don’t have but want to attain and need to work toward. A system is something we can use immediately, as well as a process that can change over time. Studies have shown that setting goals can sometimes be counterproductive because goals are always sensitive to setbacks we can’t control. If an athlete’s goal is to win a championship, that depends on things he or she can’t control. If athletes set up systems that help them achieve their best performances, then they’ll be doing their best regardless of results. Systems are flexible. You can change a system. Goals are generally pretty stubborn because they’re specific.
How do you put this into practice? Aristotle once said, “Quality is not an act; it is a habit.” Like everything else, this idea isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around for centuries. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand.
Let’s put it this way: The new year is typically a time when weight loss becomes a focus. The television is full of advertisements for gyms, diet tracker apps, scales, and more. Let’s say you, like many people, decide on weight loss as a resolution. You want to lose ten pounds. Well, that’s a goal. How will you lose that ten pounds? That’s your system.
Hypothetically speaking, after consulting a doctor, you’ve decided you’re going to achieve your weight loss goal by not eating after 9 PM, limiting yourself to two alcoholic beverages a week, and moving your body thoughtfully for 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Those are all great ideas! But a month in, if you haven’t seen the scale budge, that goal may seem really far out of reach, and you might get discouraged.
Sound relatable? Ask yourself, what if you abandoned the weight loss goal in this scenario and just focused on your system? If you gave yourself over to the process, even if the number on the scale wasn’t any different at the end of the year, you’d probably still feel good, be in great shape, and have a year of excellent habits to look back on and feel proud of.
Let’s apply this to your salon in Lawton. Let’s say you, like us, can sometimes get a little disorganized. Your workspace is a wreck by the end of the day. If you set a goal of having a clean workspace, your system would be something like making sure you’re mindfully putting things back where they belong, tidying up in between clients, and making sure you always leave your salon with your workstation neat and clean for the next morning. Not only does that system provide a process, it means you have no chance to feel judgmental toward yourself. If during a hectic appointment your station gets a little messy, you have “tidying up between clients” worked into your process as a reset button during the day. There’s no guilt or shame involved, like there can be when you have a goal still hanging there, unachieved.
If your goal is to retain more of your business, your system might be remembering to book your clients as they’re checking out or having a system that reminds them with texts and emails.
If your goal is to sell more product, your system might be to think about one thing to try to sell each client, each session, for their unique needs.
If your goal is to build a bigger salon business, your system might be a marketing push and client referrals.
If your goal is to reach more prospective clients through social media, your system might be scheduling posts in advance over the weekend, so you don’t forget during the busy week.
If your goal is to have more family or personal time, your system would be blocking off time in your calendar for the gym, for your family, for you.
If your goal is to get more likes and reviews online, your system should be to ask each client during and immediately after their appointment to review you, and possibly offer an incentive to do so.
Goals imply you’re not where you need to be. Systems help you be your best in the moment. Why not commit to systems this year instead of setting goals? Think about what you’d like to see in your life this year and come up with systems to make that a reality. The focus on the “how” might make a bigger difference than dreaming about the “when!”