What Are Your New Year’s Challenges?

With another year sneaking into the history books, it’s time to approach that annual right of passage: Determining your New Year’s resolutions.

For what it’s worth, I hate that term. The idea of making “resolutions” feels stilted and cliched, like concepts drawn up at a board meeting and then quickly forgotten.

Why not scrap that term and find a better one? This year I’m not going to promise myself anything; I’m going to CHALLENGE myself. It may just be a semantic change, but it’s necessary to get into the spirit of change. Face it, you don’t rise to a “resolution”.

As a marketer, there is no shortage of self-imposed challenges to face. If I’m going to provide value to the clients I work with, I’m going to always have to stay one step ahead of the competition.

With that in mind, here are my New Year’s “Challenges”. You might share these same goals. If you do, consider these my challenges to you too.

Write More Engaging Blog Content

Since we’re literally on the topic, I challenge myself to overcome blogging fatigue. When it comes to blogging effectively, I suffer from the common mental block that strikes many who approach a blank sheet of paper (or screen). Blogging for business can exacerbate the problem since it turns blogging into a job, often stripping away the sense of authenticity and spontaneity that comes naturally to personal blogging.

Basically, if you look at your blog as a hungry beast that needs constant feeding and want to run away, you what I’m talking about.

How can I overcome this? Prepare for a shock: I’m going to spend less time thinking and more time writing. Think of it this way: You don’t go the gym and stare at the machines. Like many, I overestimate the time it takes to write simply because I spend the majority of their time planning out what to write rather than simply write.

Not anymore. I know the systems for better blogging. Chris Brogan has an easy one. Hubspot has another good one.

Whether content is “engaging” or not depends on how much your ideas resonate with the readers. This resonance can come only if the ideas are truthful, evocative, and fresh. Don’t be concerned with forcing your ideas onto the page; just start writing and see where your keypad takes you. Worry about making better sense of it when you’ve had a change to actually read it.

Set Agendas and Stick to Them

We can all agree that setting goals is essential to personally and professional success. I’d like to append that by adding “reasonable” before “goals”.

Look back on the year and think about the projects you’ve finished. What mostly likely separated those from the failures is the amount to which you were able to achieve the basic goals rather than the big ideas. Whether you put 10 hours or 100 hours into a project; if it doesn’t go anywhere, how can you measure success?

Some are fine with this: It’s easy to set an agenda, follow an elaborate strategy, and base your sense of accomplishment on following orders blindly rather than getting results. In 2011, I challenge myself to get better results.

Stay on Top of The Game

Every year, it seems that it becomes more difficult to escape the noise emanating from digital media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the rest. As a social media marketer, I live within this noise, and am forced to find daily ways to cope with it in order to effectively consume it and provide my own expertise. I put a lot of thought into this and even wrote an earlier post on how to manage it.

This year, I challenge myself to take it to another level. I manage my media consumption like an athlete manages a workout regimen, and the competition requires me to work hard to remain high performing. In the past year, I’ve added Evernote into my arsenal to boost my list-making, refining my Google RSS reader to fine-tune my blog consumption, and customized my browsers and folders to perfection. Whatever I do this year, I challenge myself to find the right tools to get an even greater boost to my productivity.

I’ve listed only a few personal calls to action, but that should more than enough to move forward in 2011. At the end of next year, I’ll look forward to seeing how I rose to the level of these challenges and set a few more to keep me hungry in 2012.

What are your personal and professional challenges in 2011?

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