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Don’t Let Customers Treat You Like a Bank–Plus 3 Other Lessons to Keep You Motivated

Some goals are worth keeping around for the whole year–and longer

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BY Amy George - 12 Feb 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

How are your 2018 resolutions going? Last month, I shared four new habits -- I don't like to call them resolutions -- I planned to adopt to keep me and my work inspired all year long.

Now is a good time to check on how I'm doing and what I'm learning and find out the same from others, too. After all, our best intentions for the new year are often dead by February. Consider this an accountability exercise.

I'm at a solid 75 percent.

  • Work remotely one day a week. Check. I love it and look forward to it and get so much done.
  • Start talking nicer to and about myself. Check. If you put positive energy into the world, you will be rewarded. I'm crushing 2018 so far. Aren't you?
  • Stop talking about being busy. Check. I am busy, but I'm not going to talk about it. Because ... well, boring. It's also about that positive energy. I don't want the universe to stop sending me opportunities.
  • Keep one day a week free of meetings and conference calls. Fail. But I'm trying. It doesn't happen every week. We all have meetings we can't say no to. It's still a goal, because when I have a day free of meetings, I get a lot of the actual work done.

Here's what I heard from others:

Focus on the achievable.

"This year I had two relatively achievable goals," said Marion "Molly" Wallace, vice president production and talent relations at Sweety High, a digital provider of safe, original content for Gen Z girls. "The first, to attend meetings on time, and the other to keep my inbox at zero."

She added: "I have definitely gotten better at making it on time for meetings. However, my inbox currently sits at 246 unread emails. That one is a work in progress."

I love these. The first actually isn't a problem or me as I'm a if-you-aren't-early-you're-late-person. But the second is so hard. Seeing this has inspired me to get a better handle on my in box asap.

I'm also realizing that my goal of having a day a week totally free of meetings and calls isn't achievable. Not every week, anyhow. I can't necessarily say "no" to clients or prospects, but I can be smarter about how I schedule my time. I'm at least trying to focus on blocking my time in large chucks, minimizing the times when I have 30 to 60 minutes to squander between appointments.

Keep plugging away.

Ronna Moore, owner of Fairy Homes and Gardens in Savannah, Missouri, resolved to "explore new avenues" for her e-commerce business.

"I'm learning that there's so much to learn when it comes to SEO and outreach, and every little bit counts," Moore said. "Good reviews, strong content and a variety of solid products have helped me in the past, but now I'm learning how to strengthen pages to increase traffic. I look forward to continuing on this path this year."

I like this a lot. Similarly, I try to view my business website and LinkedIn profile as ever changing and improving. There are always new ways to engage and new content to add to keep them fresh.

Do the hard things.

Monika Jansen, of Reston, Virginia, and owner of Jansen Communications, decided to create a sales forecast and sale plan for 2018. "Because I'm a creative, I don't run headlong into anything accounting- or finance-related, even if it directly impacts my income. Ridiculous, but what can I say. I'm a writer, not a numbers person."

She added: "Once I started, I got so excited at the potential that I eagerly plowed through. ...I'm learning to face my fears."

As a fellow creative, I can relate. I think I'm going to add this on for my 2019 business goals, but I'll get a jump start in the final months of this year.

Have the difficult conversations.

And now for my favorite resolution anecdote. It's really about the fact that people will treat you the way you let them treat you, including when it comes to paying you for your services.

Dr. Edward Alvarez, a dentist in New York, vowed to be stricter with his financial policies, whereas in the past he always put himself in his patients' position. He was overly understanding of how dentistry can be expensive and the challenge of paying for an unexpected crown or implant.

"I have bent on fees and many times have extended payment plans for patients, although it clearly goes against the office financial policy," he said. "What many times happens is that patients will then default or not keep up with payments, which causes financial strain on the practice."

What's happened now that Alvarez isn't running his practice -- as he put it -- "like a bank?"

"People may push back, but they will eventually find a way to take care of their treatment," he said. "I have not lost any patients, because I didn't let them pay over time. And, in fact, having them use third-party financing has helped our doctor-patient relationships, because it takes uncomfortable discussions out of our treatment."

And: "This is one of the best resolutions I have made, and I wish I had done it sooner."

Bravo! I have taken to being more assertive when it comes to money matters. Custom PayPal links have also helped for speedier payments.

We could all take a note from Alvarez wishing he'd made a change sooner. Nothing says resolutions have to start on Jan. 1. Why not today?

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