5 steps to successful business resolutions

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Mark Richardson offers tips on successfully resolving to improve your business

December 21, 2011

If you believe things are different today than they were several years ago, then resolving to make needed adjustments and changes is critical to both survival and success. Getting the “ah ha” moment of what needs changing is important, but generally that is the easy part.

Change, while necessary and exciting, is very difficult for most people and businesses. Given the levels of overwhelm and stress today in the business environment, it is difficult to find the bandwidth to change. Unfortunately, if you don’t change, you will be become irrelevant.

One model of change that is familiar to most of us are New Year’s Resolutions. Over the years, I have studied why businesses or individuals succeed or fail with their resolutions. Often if you understand why people fail, you can create a formula to increase success. The following are the five top reasons that people fail in accomplishing their resolution goals.

1. Not having a strong enough reason why to make a resolution

Most people tend to feel strongly about making improvements and find that New Year’s resolutions are a good way to do it. Then, soon after the New Year holiday, life resumes its previous pace and those resolutions become less of a priority.

You might say you want to lose 10 pounds in the New Year or make a commitment to touch one new prospective client each day in 2012. This will likely not happen if you don’t have very strong reasons why you are making resolutions. So, sit down and make a list of 10 reasons why you should be resolved to each goal. As the “reasons” list grows, your conviction to make it happen also grows. Post this list and you will be constantly reminded and your conviction will be more sustainable.

2. Trying to eat an elephant in one bite

While many resolutions are worthwhile, the scale and the pace of change is an important element to realizing the goal. A question I always ask myself is: “Is my goal aggressive, but realistic?”

Until you take into account all of the variables, and all the people required to be successful, you will tend to underestimate the task at hand. Oftentimes, it may make sense to amend your resolution into parts, to increase the likelihood of success.

3. Fail to plan, plan to fail

This may sound a little patronizing, but this may be the single biggest reason New Year’s resolutions fail. Imagine if you resolved to build a deck at your home. You would naturally begin with a simple plan, an estimate, a material list and a possibly a flow chart.

This methodology needs to be followed with resolve to complete each task. Each of your resolutions require a step-by-step written plan. These steps need to be documented on a calendar with appropriate milestones to measure.

4. Burn your bridges

This phrase came from a Civil War general who ordered his troops to burn the retreat bridges behind them. This rules out failure as an option.

Contemplate ahead-of-time the retreat bridges for each of your resolutions and try to eliminate them. Do this, and you will be more likely to make your goal come to life.

5. Monitor, Monitor, monitor

Many resolutions fail due to lack of monitoring progress. After spending much energy getting the resolution launched, it is critical to monitor it. A good analogy for effectively monitoring progress is that of a pilot flying an airplane. A pilot flying from the East Coast to the West Coast not only creates a detailed flight plan, but also monitors weather, air currents, and other air traffic hundreds of times during the journey. With disciplined monitoring the flight arrives at the destination and it does so safely. Monitoring your resolution will dramatically increase your likelihood of success.

If you believe being resolved to changing is no longer a choice, then following a tested formula to increase the likelihood of success is very important.

Mark Richardson is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson will be the keynote speaker at 12 Professional Remodeler Night events in 2012.

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