Five Ways to Get Good at the Basics in 2010

A great theme for 2010 is to get good at the basics and forget all of the frilly attention-catching fads out there. I believe the people who are going to do well this year are the ones who are working on focus and clarity, whether they’re running a business, holding onto a job, or managing their family.

Here are some high-level trends to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Focus on improving your decision-making. Risk enters into every decision we make, and there’s a fine balance between not taking enough risk and taking too much risk. Both are dangerous. One of the keys is to learn the right balance of self-control and emotional discipline (emotional skills) while evaluating return on investment or some quantitative aspect (accounting skills) of the judgment. Interestingly, if you ask any 90-year-old, they’ll always say, “I wish I took more risks.”
  2. Move from reactive to proactive, top-down to bottom-up, working a plan instead of your inbox.
  3. Tighten your business processes. If you have leaks, plug them. If your processes are sloppy, they’ll cost you in this economy. Get an expert to help you if you don’t have the skill.
  4. Watch who you listen to this year. Make sure your advisors have a track record of the kind of results you’re looking for with clients like you. This is where you can really practice your emotional control and see through some of the noise that’s out there. Just because they can market well doesn’t mean they can serve you well. Doing your due diligence will help you save money. I’ll have to say, in the last two years, I’ve really made some mistakes in this area myself, and it’s costs me several thousand dollars of pain.
  5. Be persistent and consistent. I see a lot of people with short attention spans getting really excited about something and then going in a whole new direction a week later. Finish some of those projects before you start something new. Don’t buy something unless you are going to use it fully. Hang in there and don’t give up just because you get stuck.