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Let's Talk About Those Big 2021 Plans

business communication Dec 31, 2020

Happy New Year! I bet you have big plans for 2021, but do you have a way to share those plans? What about the accomplishment you’re most proud of from 2020? Do you have a way to communicate that?

If you don’t, it’s time to revisit Success Statements a topic I’ve written, posted and talked about for several years. A Success Statement is a strategic answer to the question, “How are you?” 

I bet most of the time your answer would be, “Fine.” “Good.” Or maybe even, “Great!” There’s nothing wrong with any of those responses, but if that’s all you say, it’s a missed opportunity if that’s all you say.

The answer to that question directs the rest of the conversation – however long or short the interaction is. It’s your chance to highlight the fact that you’re excited to tackle a new project, or that you’re working on a stretch goal, building a new habit or proud of what you accomplished while working from home.

A Success Statement does three things:

  1. Answers the question, “How are you?”
  2. Highlights a success or personal accomplishment
  3. Resonates with your audience.

Here are a few examples of how you could answer, “How are you?" 

“I’m relieved 2020 is over and excited about the new product I’m launching on my website.”

“I’m great! And looking forward to tackling a new role at work.”

“I’m doing well and on track with the morning routine I committed to this year.”

“I’m fantastic and feel great after a tough workout today.”  

There are a few things you should noticed about the Success Statements starting with the fact that it answers the question. They’re also short. Just one or two sentences. This is not an elevator pitch. You’re not launching into your life story or hijacking the conversation. You’re answering the question with a more complete answers. It should work in the normal back and forth flow of small talk.

You’ll also noticed the “success” in those examples varies.

Know what success looks like on a daily and weekly basis so you can bring it up in conversation. 

Success Statements allow you to highlight personal accomplishments that make your work or efforts more visible. So why wouldn’t you want to be prepared with at least one or two?

The most effective Success Statements match the audience. I’m probably not going to mention my great workout to a client or my manager, but it’s something I would say in talking to the athletes I work with because it’s part of their day too and it creates a nice segue to talk about an upcoming practice or game.

This might seem like a lot of effort for a conversational norm you probably haven’t questioned or thought much about, but here’s why you need a Success Statement:

To give the conversation a chance. “How are you?” is not a great conversation starter, but you already know that based on the number of times you’ve had to figure out what to say after you get the “How are yous” out of the way. 

You’re not surrounded by mind-readers. Most people  won’t ask a specific question about your successes or things you’re most proud of until you bring it to their attention.

This is your success we’re talking about. No one is, or ever will be, as invested in your success as you are. If you can’t talk about your success don’t be surprised if no one else is either.

If you don’t want to be the best kept secret you have to advocate for yourself. Don’t expect anyone else to do that for you.

It’s a great use of time. There’s no guarantee your Success Statement will generate a follow up question or even a full conversation  and it doesn’t have to to be effective. If you do get a follow up question you’ll be talking about something you’re interested in, not awkwardly searching for something to say or feigning interest in the weather. If you don’t get a follow up question, you still provided a lot more information about yourself than telling someone you’re “Fine.” Or “Good.” And you can feel good knowing you took the opportunity to speak up, use your voice and highlight something you’re proud of.

Less than 15 seconds. That’s all it takes. 

So back to your big plans for 2021.

You might not actually get the question, “What excites you most about the New Year?” or “What are you most proud of from last year?” or “What are you committed to this year?”

But you will have a way to work those answers in any time someone says, “Happy New Year! How are you?”


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