Where Did My New Years’ Resolution Go?

Resolve comes easily on December 31st.

By March of the new year, the resolutions made are in disarray, compromised, abandoned. And the resolute determination to make this year, finally, the year you stick to ‘em, forgotten altogether.

This is not about guilt over this abandonment. Instead, it is about the real reasons resolutions and the determination to achieve them are lost, year after year after year, and how to change – yet this year – and get on track to systematically set and achieve new goals.

Big Idea #1: you can’t achieve new goals or make desired changes without allocating time to do so.  Check out page 63 of my NO B.S. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS BOOK* for ‘time-blocking’ strategy instructions.  A big reason that resolutions never become reality is no room made for them in the daily schedule!  If your days are already full, and you resolve to get in a 1/2 hour a day on the treadmill or on your laptop, writing that book, that 1/2 hour has to come from somewhere. Something’s gotta give!  You have to find something or things currently consuming time you can cut 5 or 10 or 15 minutes from.

Big Idea #2: priorities should govern schedule, schedule shouldn’t govern priorities. On pages 69-74 and 103-111 of the same book, I talk about the mistake made by the vast majority of business owners and entrepreneurs – they operate like workers instead of bosses and leaders. They report to a workplace, then they let people and events ad interruptions come at them all day, take control of their day.  You have to wrest control away from others’ priorities and govern by your priorities.  President Bush cited Social Security reform and tax reform as top priorities of his second term, presumably accompanied by resolution of the mess inIraq. Then along came the tusunami.  Still, he organized his tax reform panel. It’s hard to judge from outside looking in, but my belief about W. is that he’s determined to govern by his priorities. Are you?

Big Idea #3: resolutions aren’t resolutions without resolve. Only you can decide what really matters to you. You shouldn’t bother with ‘lip service’ faux resolutions, made to appease or satisfy others.  Honesty with self is a pre-requisite for success.

Big Idea #4: resolutions require resources.  Almost anything you decide to do, any change you decide to make, any goal you set out to achieve requires new or different resources. That might be a piece of home exercise equipment or different food in the cupboard, a private work environment outside the office, information, people.  You aren’t really serious about a resolution unless you invest in and gather the required resources.

Sometimes investment motivates follow-through, too.

Big Idea #5: daily progress. Take the objective and break it all the way down to a timeline and to-do list for each day, from now to fruition. In talking about how he built ‘The Sharper Image’ from a college kid’s coffee table start-up to nearly a billion dollar business, Richard Thalleimer references the Bill Murray movie, ‘What About Bob?, with the psychologist who advocates “Baby Steps.”  Thallheimer says he still approaches every new project that way today.  Good enough for a guy running a billion dollar company, good enough for you.  Nothing gets done in occasional big leaps.  I wrote four books last year, one hour a day, a handful of pages each day. Here’s the goal and discipline that is guaranteed certain to move you closer to any goal each and every day: refuse to end any day without doing some thing, no matter how small, that moves you toward the goal!  “The One Thing Behavioral Rule”  makes a huge difference.

Big Idea #6: who motivates the motivator?  Paul Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, posed this provocative question. As an entrepreneur, as the leader, you may be doing a lot of motivating of others, but who motivates you?  For the most part, you need to create self-motivation with structure, like Big Idea#5.  But you can also get into a coaching group, tele-coaching program, hire a one-on-one coach, or just pair up with a like-minded buddy, so there’s somebody to hold you accountable, to report progress to, to get an atta-boy! from. Any professional sports coach will tell you: measurement automatically improves performance, and measurement monitored by someone else further improves performance.

Big Idea #7:  Build up to change.  I’ve neglected the treadmill for six months, now I’m going back to it. Began January 1st. I’m writing this on the 8th and I’m still 100%. The goal is 30 minutes a day, but if I try doing that out of the starting gate, I’m a goner. So I’ve started with a measly 5 minutes a day first half of January, 10 minutes a day for next 15 days, 15 minutes a day for all of February – and I’ll miss 10 days while traveling, then 20 minutes a day in March, up to 30 minutes by April. This addresses the tricky balancing act, a desireable and motivating goal but also an achievable goal. So, say you resolve to get up an hour earlier every morning to work on some project. You could start with 15 minutes for two weeks, then 20 minutes for two weeks, then 30 for a month, then 45 for two weeks.

Big Idea #8: It’s not too late to re-group!  You may already have let your resolutions slip away. Doesn’t matter. Today, tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest, block out a couple hours, bolt the door, unplug phone, and re-group. Review the resolutions. Pick one or two or three that mean the most, and apply the above seven ideas.

Big Idea #9: Make better use of your time.  Resolve weakens under pressure, under stress, when you feel your time is out of your control. That’s the set of circumstances that allows procrastination to gain a foothold.  If you want to be more resolute about keeping your resolutions, you must become unwaveringly resolute about controlling your time. A lot of what’s in my NO B.S. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS BOOK has to do with training or re-training all the people in your world to respect your time, to co-operate and facilitate your peak productivity.

About The Author: Dan Kennedy is the author of nine business books, including his newest, NO B.S. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS, available in bookstores or from online booksellers. Additional information and free chapter previews at www.nobsbooks.com. Included with the book, a coupon for a free kit of peak personal productivity tools.  Kennedy is also a busy entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and direct-response advertising copywriter. Info at www.dankennedy.com.

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