Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013! Well, it might as well be since we started celebrating Christmas right after the GIE+EXPO. Everyone is anxious for the new season to really get started – we want to forget the winter of 2011-2012 that never was, this past summer’s droughts and whatever else was in our way.

So, we all have big plans of growing our business in the next year. With that in mind, are you ready to select your goals for the approaching season?

We have all heard it before (I even wrote a column here in January 2011 about goal setting) and we will continue to hear that the best way to grow our businesses is to set goals. How many of us have tried to set goals then found ourselves getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day activities and forgetting about growing our business through goal setting? It’s OK, we’ve managed our businesses and maybe, just maybe, some of us were too aggressive in trying to accomplish too much. Let’s review what’s important in setting goals.

These practical tips on goal setting can help make it easier to set and reach goals. And, remember: simple is better:

1. Specific, realistic goals work best. When it comes to making a change, the people who succeed are those who set realistic, specific goals. “I’m going to recycle all my plastic bottles, soda cans and magazines” is a simple goal. You don’t have to save the whole world. Just save what you can. For the time being, that’s enough.

2. It takes time for a change to become an established habit. It’ll probably take a couple of months before any changes become a routine part of our personal or business lives. That’s because we need time to get used to the idea that this new thing we are doing is part of our regular routine.

3. Repeating a goal makes it stick. Say your goal out loud each morning on the way to your shop. This will remind you of what you want and what you’re working for. Every time you remind yourself of your goal, you’re reminding yourself to make it happen. Repetition is good.

4. Pleasing other people doesn’t work. The key to making any change is to generate the genuine desire to change. You have to do it because you want to do it, not because someone else wants you to. It will be harder to stay on track and be motivated if you’re doing something out of obligation to another person. Be yourselves.

5. Roadblocks don’t mean failure. Slip-ups are part of the learning process as you retrain your brain into a new way of thinking. It may take a few tries to reach a goal. But that’s OK – it’s normal to mess up or give up a few times when trying to make a change. So remember that everyone slips up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself to get back on track.

Remember that the end result of goal setting is getting results. By knowing the fundamentals of effective goal setting, you can be sure that the goals you set are effective in spurring your personal performance and that of your business.

This year, like last year, will continue to be an exciting challenge. Let’s prepare to move our business forward in 2013!

With more than 30 years of experience in franchising, sales and business operations, Paul Wolbert knows franchising like the back of his hand. He helps potential new franchisees make their decision to come into the market, and his in-depth knowledge of the green industry allows him to keep the U.S. Lawns marketing plan on target for franchisees’ growth and for all divisions of U.S. Lawn’s business to thrive in any economy. He has helped build the U.S. Lawn business to where it is today.