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When January approaches each year, there’s a natural tendency for business owners to say, “It’s time to update the marketing plan and prepare a new budget based on our sales goals for the coming year.” While these are important things to do in running any business, I suspect they are often done out of habit, without much attention being given to the bigger picture…. the “why” behind the “what” that needs to get done and “how” you are going to do it.

The same could be said for setting your personal goals for the coming year.

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.”


I suggest that as you plan for 2021, whether in your business or your personal life, now is a good time to step back and really think about what drives you — your ambition, your goals and why these are important to you.


Georg Hegel, the German philosopher, once said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

As you develop your marketing plan and budget for 2021, or set your personal goals for the coming year, make time to step back and evaluate what you are most passionate about – in your business, your job and your personal life.  What drives you and excites you about coming to work each day?  What gives you the most enjoyment?  And why?

Being around passionate people is contagious, something I have witnessed time and time again, both in business and in my personal life. A client who is passionate about his or her business and who has employees who are equally passionate about what they do, will instill that same enthusiasm in their professional associates, their customers and their clients.

But to be truly successful, however you wish to define success, passion alone is not enough.  That’s like filling your car with a full tank of gas, but not knowing where you are going or why you are going there.


 “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

So what drives you to do what you do?  How would you define your purpose…in your business, in your job, or in your life in general?

After reading Simon Sinek’s best-selling book, Start with Why, two years ago, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my own career and personal life, asking myself, what is my “why”?  What values and beliefs have been the foundation upon which I have built my business?  In the end, it’s best summarized in 10 words: “We are born not for ourselves, but to serve others.”

And throughout my career, including working in public affairs in Washington for a national health agency, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay in Boston, in Houston where I began my real estate career, or in New England working for a regional builder before opening my marketing communications firm 32 years ago, serving others has always been the guiding force that has inspired me.  Helping others achieve their business goals through professional marketing communications and consulting is what has inspired me and given me the greatest satisfaction.  And I have been fortunate throughout my career to work with a team of professionals who are not only talented, but equally inspired to serve our clients.

So, what’s most important to you in your life?  What values and beliefs define who you are as a person and as a professional?  Have these changed over time, and if so, how and why? The contribution you are making in your personal and professional life through your knowledge, your experience and the relationships you develop with others can have a direct impact on the success of your business and those around you.

In his poem, “Live a Life That Matters,” author Michael Josephson wrote, “…What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built, not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught….”

Making a difference

When you take the time to pause and thoughtfully reflect on both the purpose and the passion in your personal and professional life and determine what really matters to you, once you are comfortable with that, I believe the goals you set for yourself and your business in 2021, will be clearer.  Then, we can help you move forward in the coming year with a strategy and marketing plan to help you achieve those goals.

For nearly 32 years, we at Carlson Communications have been working with clients throughout the country, helping them achieve their sales goals and building their brand by developing creative marketing strategies and communication materials that attract qualified leads.

Contact us for more information on how we might assist you in achieving your goals in 2021.

Author Rich Carlson

Senior marketing specialist, Rich Carlson, has 44 years of experience working in advertising, marketing, and public relations on national, regional and local levels. In the 11 years prior to founding Carlson Communications in 1989, Rich worked in senior management positions for three prominent real estate developers in New England and Texas, specializing in real estate marketing and sales. Since 1995, Rich has specialized in all facets of marketing senior housing including active adult, independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. As a marketing consultant, Rich helps clients achieve their sales goals while strengthening in-house sales and marketing teams with strategic advice on planning and implementing effective marketing strategies. He is a frequent speaker at national and regional conventions and is the author of, "Are You Prepared for the Recovery?"

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