Happy New Year!
The problem with the resolutions we all make around this time of year is that they require us to do things we don't like over long periods of time. Losing weight, for instance, is a long-term endeavor; you can't just lose the weight once and forget about it. Similarly, quitting smoking requires not just that you not smoke now, but that you not smoke 10 minutes from now, or later this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week. Or ever again, in a life suddenly made meaningless without tobacco ... .
If you're like me, that kind of long-term commitment leads to a lot of broken resolutions. With that in mind, I've put together a list of things you only have to do once to feel good about them. Of course, if you choose to repeat them or follow up on them over time, all the better, but no one is expecting miracles.
- January: Start easy, by making a secure password for yourself. Base it on a passphrase (a line from a song you love, a favorite quote, etc.), and a number or character. Marvel at how easy it is to remember.
- February: Hire (or promote, or mentor) someone who doesn't look like you. If you're reading this, chances are you're a white male - but the profession needs more women and more minorities, not just at the entry level, but all the way up to the top.
- March: Write down a plan. If you don't have a strategic plan, write one - but keep it short. If you don't have a succession plan, write one - but make it detailed and comprehensive, and not just for the top job. If you don't have a marketing plan, or a mentoring plan, or a client service plan -- write them.
- April: Show other people how to make secure passwords. This is an easy one for right after tax season.
- May: Distribute the plan you made in March. Explain it to your staff. Incorporate their suggestions.
- June: Follow someone on Twitter, or find a blog that seems interesting to you. I won't be crazy and suggest you actually tweet or blog yourself -- I know that's not likely to happen. But you need to expose yourself to social media one way or another, and seeing how other people do it is a great start. And you'll likely learn something. Bonus points for following your clients on social media.
- July: Call a client for no reason. No reason at all. Just to check in. See how things are going. Maybe you can ask them for a cup of coffee. Don't make it sound like a date (that would be creepy), but do bear in mind that client relationships are, in the end, relationships, which require investment. More important, the unstructured conversations are the ones where you learn the most.
- August: Actually talk to a Millennial. Unless you are one, in which case you should talk to a Boomer. (And someone really ought to talk to the Gen Xers.) Point is, there's a lot of uninformed intergenerational stereotyping going around, and this would be a good chance to move everyone up to the level of informed intergenerational stereotyping.
- September: Revisit the plan you distributed in March. Does it need revising or updating?
- October: Fire a client. Probably not the one you called in July - that one should be the model for your ideal client. This one should be someone who's dragging you down, one your staff hate, one who's not worth the trouble. Make sure to give them the names of a couple of other accountants.
- November: Spend a day working from home. Or spend a day working from a coffee shop. See what kind of challenges you face, and if your IT systems are up to it. See if you're more productive, or less, and how you interact differently with your co-workers.
- December: Sit down with your partners for a few hours or a day to think about where you want your firm to be in December 2016, and December 2021, and December 2026.
Even if you skip a month or two, or re-arrange them, they should leave you in better shape by this time next year. Then you can start on losing weight.
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