Let me start this off on an improbable foot by saying I’m not huge on the concept of New Years resolutions, per se. But I do value reflection and improvement. And if just after the winter solstice seems like a good time for it, don’t let me stop you.
Last fall, I began participating in a mastermind group. If you have a W2, your employer will typically offer you rather paternalistic guidance under the heading of career development. I call it paternalistic, since it generally assumes that your goals include working for the company forever, and emulating the people that have worked there forever. But, set that aside, and you can often extract a bit of value from it. For instance, you’ll get someone’s take on how to secure a promotion or get assigned to a better project.
If you go the solo consultant or entrepreneur route, nothing like this really exists. I don’t think someone has used the words “exceeds expectations” in front of me for about 5 years. This I attribute to the fact that nobody uses those words outside of the corporate performance review. And I haven’t had one of those in half a decade.
A mastermind group, more or less, fills that gap. A few people get together at some interval (weekly, for instance), brainstorm, share ideas, hold one another accountable, and offer mutual advice. Pound for pound, this offers much more individual value than the corporate perf review/boss one on one because it focuses entirely on my goals, not my goals in the context of being a perpetual good solider.
At one of the mastermind group calls, we laid out goals for 2017. Not having done this before, I lurked more than participated, to see what sorts of goals these meant. The other participants laid out real plans, with real numbers, to do things like change revenue by X% or shave Y% of time off of some operational concern.
I came to the table with vague notions of, “I want to spend less time in cold places.” Part of this results from my tendency to let lifestyle goals dictate work arrangements. But part of this comes from sloppiness and the consultant’s peril of not taking one’s own advice.