New Years is an Artificial Constraint (Guest Post – Deborah Mills-Scofield)

Since it is still January (barely) and so technically still the beginning of the New Year, I feel free to reblog another excellent post from another strong voice that often appears on Switch and Shift.  This post reinforces the thought that life is less about Resolutions (“Saying”) and more on Action (“Doing”) in order to become the Impact people we need to be.  I think this is pertinent to every arena of life (i.e., think broader than just ‘mentees’ and ‘clients’ below), so with gracious permission here is Deb’s post (and yes, we are on a first name basis as we have exchanged tweets and have seen each other’s photos).


Ah, New Years hype! New resolutions, habits, goals, priorities. We make it so grand and complicated that we set ourselves up for failure. Seriously, what’s the difference between December 31st and January 1st?  Is it really different than June 30th and July 1st or October 31st and November 1st?  And really, January 1st as the New Year is a bit artificial.  The Jewish New Year was September 4, 2013.  The Chinese New Year is January 31st.   In fact, until 1751, New Years in the British Isles (except Scotland) was March 25st! (Ed.: See? Plenty of time for reblogging!)

But, it is January 2014 and everyone is talking about vision and goals, so I’ll weigh in. Here’s what I do – this isn’t rocket science; it’s common sense (which is increasingly uncommon) and it’s grounded in my core beliefs and values and my life motto of “Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate” and “discover, don’t control.”  It’s a process of asking questions and discerning/discovering answers I call IO2S2:

  • Impact: What should my impact be in ‘my’ world? (My world: God, husband and children, clients, mentees, friends, community, etc.; for a business it’s their customers, employees, suppliers, partners, community and lastly, shareholders).  Therefore…
  • Outcome: What are important outcomes? E.g., clients create a new markets, new jobs are created, mentees’ startups realize their outcomes, the use of my network for others, etc.  Therefore…
  • Outputs: What are the outputs needed to realize the outcomes? E.g., number of & diversity of clients (geographic, industry, stage of growth), number of mentees and diversity of their concentrations, passions, etc., breadth/depth/diversity of my network, etc.   Therefore…
  • Systems:  What systems (routines, habits, processes) are needed? So much of success in life is due to creating good habits, routines, and systems for doing things at a predictable high caliber.  If we have goals but no processes to achieve them, it’s just theory.  Therefore…
  • Steps: What steps (tactics) do I need to do by when?  Break impact and outcomes down into manageable, achievable bite-sized chunks in manageable timeframes that help you build habits and go forwards more than backwards.  If you want to lose weight, what if you just don’t eat dessert 3 times a week?  Think of small steps that help you build the stamina and endurance to take bigger steps.

This really is pretty simple.  It’s a basic ‘strategic’ planning process. Each part of IO2S2 is inter-dependent and not necessarily linear.  There can easily be blurry lines.  Our world is not as clear-cut, as linear, as predictable as it was (if it ever really was).  Since our world is ever changing, we must adopt an Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate mindset.  This means that next year, I may have adapted IO2S2 in a new way.  Til then, I’m starting with this – in very easy, small, progressive steps.  Give it a try! Let me know how it goes and how your adapting/adopting it.  But mostly…. Just go make a difference.

Author information

Deborah Mills-Scofield

Deborah Mills-Scofield is a partner at Glengary LLC, an early stage venture capital firm in Cleveland, OH, and an innovation and strategy consultant. Her patent from AT&T Bell Labs was one of the highest-revenue generating patents ever for AT&T & Lucent.


P.S. Connect with Deb at @dscofield.

About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 07: Getting It, 08: Observing, Listening, Learning, 09: Doing, 11: Growth, Career, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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