5 July 2020
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Don't do a dumb New Year's Eve resolution!

Peter Switzer
15 December 2017

One of the great lessons I’ve learnt watching, analysing, interviewing and educating small business owners, is a great maxim of business that applies to all of our lives generally. It goes like this: “Businesses don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”

So, instead of waiting for that moment just after the turn of the year, some seconds after the end of New Year’s Eve, when some ‘profound’ promises or resolutions are made, let me suggest that you should start thinking about planning what you come up with in the early moments of 2018, possibly with a tummy full of champagne aboard?

In fact, I give you a template for thinking out your ultimate New Year’s resolution based on what we tell business owners who come to us for advice on how to grow their business.

It’s called a business plan and it works just as well for creating a great life.

Before I explain why, let’s look at the history of New Year’s Resolutions.

The Brits actually survey this kind of stuff and The Guardian claims that “the majority of Brits have failed in the past to keep a New Year resolution.”

Last year, the newspaper told us “According to a ComRes poll for Bupa from November, 32% of Britons plan to make a New Year resolution in 2016 – roughly the same as in similar polls by YouGov in previous years. Across all the polls, health is the priority for those committing to a change in the New Year.”

The Poms surveyed seem to be OK with resolutions, with 41% arguing they kept their promise but it does mean 59% failed.

Health resolutions such as stopping smoking, eating better, losing weight and getting fit are big on New Year’s Eve and are often at the top of the list.

In the USA, the New Year revelers are either less resolved compared to the Poms or they’re more honest!

The little known Woodinville Weekly cites a Take Charge America story that says: “The New Year is a time of optimism, often marked with lofty resolutions to lose weight, kick bad habits, pay off debt and save money. 

“However, the glow of January 1 is quickly dimmed. A full 80 percent of resolutions fail by February.”

For Australia, finder.com.au has done the homework on us and our resolution-keeping performance and this is what they found: “On average, Aussies keep their resolutions for 93 days, suggesting that we lose motivation quickly. 

“In fact, by the end of January 2017, more than a third of Australians will have broken their resolutions and four in five will have fallen over by July.”

Four out of five is 80%, so we’re more like Yanks than Poms. Or else the Poms are gilding the lily.

OK, I think we get it — most of us don’t plan to fail with our New Year goal setting, but something goes wrong. So what is it?

I argue it’s a lack of planning and a lack of systems to make sure that the goals become a reality.

One of the best small business books ever written was the E-Myth by Michael Gerber, where he shows that it was systems that explained why McDonald’s was such a business success story.

(There’s a great movie called Founder starring Michael Keaton, which anyone in business has to see but it’s good for anyone who wants to win in life.)

A great business plan starts with the goals of the business and that’s what you should be thinking between now and New Year’s Eve.

Next, understanding the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of and to the business needed to be understood. It’s called a SWOT analysis, which helps you comprehend what’s possible and what’s needed to make your goals happen.

You now are in the position to draw up the blueprint of the plan that makes your goal/s become a reality.

A business might decide that it has a great service that they’ve already tested with a small audience but it needs a plan to grow the business. The plan shows, for example, that the owners need a great marketing strategy, key partners, new and better employees who are strong where the founder is weak and money to succeed. In our plan, over 20 years ago, we decided we needed a business coach, Lesley Ann Grimoldby, and her objective eyes were critical to our success.

In fact, as we embark on growing our Switzer Home Loan business, we visited LA, as she’s known, to help us draw up the plan for the business.

We’re planning to succeed and we know the best way of doing that is to be professional in our approach.

So, if you really want to be better in 2018 and say you want to get fit and lose weight, start doing your planning now. 

The questions you have to ask are:

• Can I do this myself? If not, go searching for a personal trainer or a group who will help you succeed.

• Do I need external motivation? It might be a system to beat my weaknesses of giving in when the going gets tough. The Apprentice-famed Mark Bouris once told me he told his family he’d run the New York Marathon so he wouldn’t chicken out. Others who want to lose weight agree to do a public weight showing with an uncompromising friend or family member to ensure they do what they promise to do.

• Do I need to pay up front — big time — to a professional who’ll make me keep my promise?

I guess you get what I’m saying. It’s about getting a system in place to ensure that failure doesn’t happen.

However, at the end of the day, you’ll need to get the desire to really want to do whatever you promise.  

Two of my favourite rules for living get down to:

  • Work out what you want. Work out the price you have to pay. Pay the price
  • As Chris Evert, the great tennis player said of herself: “There were times deep down I wanted to win so badly that I could actually will it to happen. I think most of my career was based on desire!

I see these as the two wonderful quotes as maxims of my life nowadays and they’re worth chanting every day, if you really want to be a better you in 2018.

I did this little story early because I want you to plan to succeed in 2018. And I hope you have a really great one!

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