Al Levi
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The approaching New Year is always a great time to stop the craziness long enough to reflect on what went right last year, what went wrong last year and what you want or need to do in the coming year to make things better.

Resolutions such as losing weight or quitting smoking are very worthy, but having a resolution and making it stick are two different things. It takes more than a passing desire to make a lasting change. It takes a plan and a commitment, or you’re bound to join the legions of those who started out strong in the new year only to have it fade away in just a couple of days or weeks.

What I’m betting is you’d have more success if you start by dwelling on a time when you were successful in making a positive change. That results in a positive outcome vs. focusing too much on when you pledged to implement changes and it went awry.

The reason to focus on success is because it brings more success. Success takes confidence and confidence comes from reflecting on when you were successful. A great place to start is by pledging to build on any good habits you already have. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all fall short but we all rise above, too.

Are you thinking, “If I already do something good, why do I still need to focus on it?”

I advocate this type of renewed focus because it’s so easy to get away from the good things we do in our lives and in our businesses and let old bad habits regain their turf.


Easy to lose good habits

A good example of why this can happen in business is when I asked new clients, who were partners, to share with me a successful marketing promotion they had done in the past. They both lit up and excitedly shared with me about a yearly carnival they participated in. It was a local town-sponsored carnival event that had great grassroots support from the entire community.

My new clients shared that they had a big booth and offered free ice cream coupons if a prospective customer filled out a simple form. The client then used this list for follow-up that resulted in a lot of quality sales. Both of them nodded and glowed at the chance to reminisce about what a big success that event turned out to be.

I asked, “How’s the promotion working these days?”

The partners looked at one another and began to laugh awkwardly as they blurted out in unison, “Um … we haven’t been participating in that event in more than two years!” Funny thing is, neither one of them remembered why they stopped a successful marketing idea but that’s life and business for you!

It’s just as easy to fall out of good habits as it is to pick up old or new bad habits. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. There is no standing still.

I know this from my own experience at my company and the reinforcement of working with clients over the years. Many great programs and great habits I helped get in place can fall by the wayside without constant care and attention. That’s because the initial enthusiasm can wane and a turn for the better gets replaced by the tendency to relax and let things slide.

A false assumption exists that the staff must know what to do and how to do it by now and, therefore, management acts accordingly. Unfortunately, what happens after awhile is the powerful program, good habit or great system that was “firmly in place” becomes “kind of in place,” if at all.

At best, this flaw is the recipe for disappointment and, at worse, it sows the seeds of future backsliding and even potential disaster.

Human nature is powerful! You’re either working on keeping good things in place or the prospect of bad things happening will take over. A great way to think of it is gardening. You wouldn’t weed once, plant once and think it never needs constant tending and care, would you?

Want to get off to a powerful start in 2014? Yes? OK, start by creating a list of:

  • What went right last year;

  • What went wrong last year; and

  • What you need or want to do that didn’t get done last year.

Then, put a plan in place with the necessary meetings and training that will keep the good things you get done even better. And you’ll go a long way toward preventing the bad things from ever happening — or at least a whole lot less often.

Why not build the company you’ve always dreamed of?

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year with less stress and more success!