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Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time to replace them with “revolutions.” Here are 10 ways to get started and keep you on track.

By Michael Guld has had one-on-one podcast discussions with top industry experts and has chosen their best answers to our questions about how to succeed in insurance and financial services. Here is what they had to say—and if you like what you’ve read, be sure to click on the podcast arrow and listen to their complete interview.

Most verbs associated with resolutions are restrictive: quit, stop, lose, reduce and eliminate. The implication is that you need to improve or fix something that’s broken. People see New Year’s resolutions as a difficult exercise at best, requiring discipline, determination and willpower (not exactly energizing words). As a result, most people make resolutions on Jan. 1 and usually begin to break them by Feb. 1, as their commitment fades and enthusiasm wanes.

This year, consider creating New Year’s “revolutions”—transformational actions that will lead to breakthrough results. Revolutions are personal and broader in scope than resolutions. To frame your revolutions you need to step back and decide what you want to be as opposed to what you need to do. Think of it this way,
You need to step back and decide what you want to be as opposed to what you need to do.
if you were being recognized for your accomplishments and someone were introducing you to a large crowd, what would you want him to say about you? Are you on track to be that person? If not, what actions can you take today that will help you get there tomorrow?

To help increase the chances of staying inspired (vs. disciplined) with your New Year’s revolutions, follow these 10 tips:

1. Remember that goals are dreams with a deadline.
Dreams are wants and desires without commitment. Goals are concrete and defined actions with commitment. Where do you ultimately want to be and what do you want to do? Write down three actionable goals that you can visualize and that you’ll achieve by the end of 2009. Keep these goals in front of you at all times so your daily actions will lead you to accomplishing them.

2. Positive attitude plus positive actions equal positive results.
While having a positive mental attitude is a good start, positive actions are what lead to success (vs. wanting, hoping and waiting for them to happen). Plan on how you will achieve each goal with mini-plans, mini-goals and corresponding dates for each.

3. Follow your passion.
Your chores are other people’s challenges.
Commit to doing more of what you enjoy, which invigorates you and provides pleasure, and limit what you don’t enjoy, which leads to procrastination and stress. (Delegate those tasks or hire someone to do them.) Your chores are other people’s challenges.

4. Soar with your strengths.
Spend more time on projects, tasks or activities that accentuate your talents and less time on improving your weaknesses. (Again, delegate those tasks to others.) By focusing on what you are naturally good at, you’ll increase your self-esteem and be more successful and fulfilled professionally.

5. Be the organized executive.
Being overwhelmed with clutter can make you feel busier than you actually are. Start fresh by going through every piece of paper in every file with a goal to “trash it,” “box it” (future needs) or “refile it” (near-term needs). You’ll reduce your files by up to 75 percent. Then, begin or end each day with 20 minutes of organizing.

6. Analyze your to-do list.
Does your to-do list look more like an annual plan? Go through your list and prioritize it into “do it,” “delegate it” or “scratch it,” keeping in mind that you want to do more of what brings you personal, professional and monetary rewards and less of what steals your time. Make sure you add “want to do” items to your list, not just tasks that others ask you to do.

7. Compartmentalize your priorities.
Once you have decided on your priorities for the day, week, month and year, focus on the tasks at hand. Set up “firewalls” to keep out any distractions. It’s extremely difficult to concentrate on multiple projects and do them all well.

8. Change your view.
By reprogramming your brain to see opportunities vs. obstacles, challenges vs. chores and to celebrate what you’ve accomplished vs. feeling bad about what you haven’t, you’ll increase your energy, improve your attitude and raise your level of professional satisfaction.

9. Surround yourself with positive people.
Good attitudes are contagious, elevating organizations to heights previously thought unreachable. Bad attitudes are even more contagious, draining energy, accelerating discontent and destroying morale. Choose to spend your precious time with people who support you and celebrate your success.

10. Reinvent yourself.
Even performers like Madonna realize that change is cathartic, energizing and can be very good for a career. It’s easy to become stale if we don’t shake it up every once in a while—even in our dress and surroundings.

Remember that we have to accept that there is no way to accomplish all that we want to do and all that is asked of us by work, family, friends and organizations. Wherever we spend our precious resources—time, money and energy—is where we’ll get the greatest results. Decide first what results you want in 2009 and spend your time, energy and focus to achieve your New Year’s revolutions.

Michael Guld, president of The Guld Resource Group, is an author, speaker and entrepreneur whose business-development expertise lies in increasing sales performance, marketing exposure, employee productivity and creating a world-class service experience. He is the creator of “Talking Business With Michael Guld,” heard at Contact him at 804-360-3122 or at

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