Happy New Year 2013 by Juan Ramon Rodriguez Sosa

By now, you’ve probably read every piece of advice on how to start the New Year out right. You’ve seen the titles: “How to plan your business goals for 2013”, “Make a leap from the Little Leagues to the Big Leagues in the New Year”, or “How you can dream big and achieve anything in the next 365 days!”

I admit I thought about writing a similar post. Less sensational in tone, but the content was along the same path. Then I thought, “What did I do last year? Did things really go all that well for me?” Not to say that setting goals is bad or having big dreams are a waste of time. Certainly not. But I quickly remembered what the lovely J. August Richards tweeted on New Years Eve:

J August Richards quote for the NY 2013

That idea resonated with me for a few days more than I thought it would. Maybe I needed to change my approach to goal setting instead of simply tweaking my goals? I began looking at my partial list of wants and needs for 2013, parsing what would be required to achieve these aspirations and how might I feel if I didn’t reach those mountaintops yet again.

It occurred to me how much this annual “goal setting” bonanza really leaves you feeling like you’re in a rat’s maze, constantly chasing that piece of cheese, but never quite finding the right turn. How could I change that? How could I find new problems?

So I decided on a new strategy. Sure, I made my big list of heights I’d like to climb, but I plan to move away from the big picture for a while. No, instead, I’m going to keep things small and flexible.

I’ve created 10 big goals for the year, which I’ll review once every quarter. But on a monthly basis, I will simply move forward tackling projects based on spontaneous motivation and short-term plans.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s no way to approach your future. That’s no way to run a business. But I’ve tried it the other way and it’s gotten me to a point where I feel it’s time to try a new way. I need to make some new choices and, maybe, some new problems.

So far in the first 10 days of the New Year, I’ve sold my old car, joined a boxing club, and participated in my first ever multi-person Google+ hangout. I’m trying new things, broaching new ideas and aiming for new horizons in my personal life. So why not take the same tack in my professional life?

Sure, I want to achieve greatness and go further this year than I did last year, but who says the only worthwhile approach is the one written in textbooks blogs and freelance bibles. If a more short-term outlook can lead you further up the mountain than a previous long-term outlook, don’t you owe it to yourself to try?

I’ll still be pitching magazines, actively engaging via social media, and fiddling with my website behind the scenes. But my primary focus for the year will be on more immediate returns on my investments. I’m not yet sure what any of this will look like, but I’ll certainly recognize if it proves successful or frighteningly bad.

I prefer to think of it as traveling to “Australia” by setting your course for all the beautiful islands that lie in between. I may be creating new problems for myself, but at least it’ll be because I’m doing new things.

Have you changed your focus in the New Year?
Do you think a change in outlook can affect productivity and success?