New Year’s Resolutions

For many of us, today’s the first working day of the new year.  January is usually a time of reflection on the year past and big plans for the year ahead; New Year’s resolutions.  Sadly, most resolutions last about as long as the Christmas decorations.  Our good intentions fade fast when we’re confronted with the daily realities of our lives, especially if you’re running your own business.

So, how do we make good on the promises we make to ourselves and avoid having them turn into faint memories by February 1?  Most of us run into problems with our resolutions because they’re either too vague, or too big.  For example, losing weight is always a popular resolution.  But, if we say "I’m going to lose weight this year", guess what?  It probably won’t happen.  For a goal to work it has to be specific, measurable, and believable.  "I’m going to lose 50 pounds" probably won’t work either.  While it’s specific, there’s no time table for us to measure and the number is too big for most of us to deal with.

Suppose we decide to lose four pounds by the end of January?  That’s more like it.  I can do that.  After all, it’s only one pound per week; just 2.3 ounces per day.  If 3,500 calories equals a pound, then I only have to cut out 500 calories each day (or burn 500 calories more) to reach my goal.

Then, if I can lose four pounds this month, there’s no reason why I can’t repeat the goal for February.  Twelve consecutive months of losing just 2.3 ounces per day and I’ve lost 50 pounds.

You can use the same principle for any resolution.  If you want to get organized in 2007 but your office looks like a tornado just blew through it, don’t try to do it all at once.  Start with one drawer and go from there.  If you’re a "stacker" (like I am), don’t try to clear off your whole desk in one day, start with a single stack.  If you try to tackle a big project all at once, you’ll soon get frustrated and quit.  But if you decide to get just one stack of papers off your desk today, at the end of the day you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that will drive you to deal with another stack tomorrow.

Use the bite-sized pieces approach to anything that’s worth doing.  If your goal is to increase your business 10% this year, think about what you can do to increase it 10% TODAY.  Depending on your business, that might be just one or two big sales per day.  The idea of making between 300 and 600 more big ticket sales in 2007 may sound like quite a stretch, one or two more per day is easier to work with.   Work backwards from your goal.  If you close one out of ten people, then you’ll have to talk to ten more people today to make one more sale.  If you work a ten hour day, that’s only one person per hour.  You get the idea.

Where are the ten people going to come from?  Break down your goal again.  If you know that sending out 100 postcards will bring ten people into the store, then 100 postcards per day will get you those ten prospects and, on average, you’ll ring up that extra sale.  200 postcards will get you two sales and 300 will get you three.

You may not even need more prospects.  Maybe you need to increase your closing percentage.  Maybe your goal is to show one extra item to every person who comes into your store.  That’s a goal that can be tracked and measured.  Think about your process for making sales and break it down into small, measurable tasks.

New Year’s resolutions are a great idea, if we have a plan.  Without a plan, resolutions are just wishes, and they probably won’t come true.

Another thing that will help you reach your goals is to share them with someone.  For example, my goal is to lose four pounds this month.  By telling a few hundred people, I’ve just put myself on the spot.  How about you?  What are your resolutions for 2007? 

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