Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't WorkHappy New Year!  I welcome this new year of with open arms and am energized about the possibilities. Yet, whenever someone starts talking about new year resolutions I cringe, the hair on my neck starts to stand up, and my insides want to prepare for battle.  The other day I started the year by attending a women’s networking meeting. As someone started talking about it being the time to get started with those resolutions I wanted to leap from my chair and scream bull!*$?!  Stop playing that mental game with yourself!

Why do I say this?  Well, first let me ask you…

How many years now have you been making resolutions?

How many of those resolutions have been fully realized?

How many of your resolutions for the coming year sound exactly like the resolutions you made last year (and the year before that, and the year before that…)?

If you are truly honest with yourself this whole game of new year’s resolutions has been nothing but a silly game of psychological warfare with yourself perpetuated through the ages, right?  Something you say each year to feel better about yourself (for about a week or two) in an attempt to get motivated around something that you at  least say you want. There is something approximating an 88% failure rate when it comes to resolutions (and many resolutions don’t even make it out of January).  Why is that and why is making resolutions just a silly game in which you set yourself up for failure and feeling bad about yourself?

Get real about why they don’t work with this inner awareness.

Willpower is a Depletable Resource

You cannot willpower your way to any lasting change.  It just isn’t possible.  It is not sustainable. The minute you are fatigued, distracted, or otherwise stressed mentally or physically, willpower goes out the window.  This is why it is so hard to resist all the cookies, donuts, and goodies at the holidays or at work when you’re running on low.  That is why it is hard to resist the pull of distractions (like Facebook, surfing the web, doing the laundry, etc.) when you are supposed to be focused on taking action in your business. Willpower plummets and the quality of your choices goes out the window. Resolutions by their very nature (“resolve”) are based on willpower.

The Bar Is Set Too High

Resolutions tend to sound like sweeping changes and include huge promises that are doomed to failure by their very nature.  Big promises that entail radical changes are usually empty promises.  (Think: political rhetoric) Behavior change and true transformation requires a systematic plan of achievable and sustainable change. I don’t care who you are, you’re unlikely to go from one extreme to the other  whether it is adopting a new work schedule, redesigning your marketing plan, or meeting your income goals.  Give yourself sky’s the limit permission with what you desire and your vision.  Drill down and focus in baby steps as you take action to bring that vision into the here and now.

Goals are One Dimensional

To me goals have been abused, mistreated, and overrated.  We throw them out there like darts at a board. Sometimes we even get really fancy and make SMART goals (don’t even get me started).  The end result?  Often the same…a misunderstood end point that may or may not get you where you want to go and is likely to justify the end at the expense of the means (and your experience along the way). There is a better, more effective way to do this. It involves adding dimension to what you want by getting clear on how you want to feel (so you can navigate by THAT as your compass) and the real  meaning behind your goals.

True Commitment is Lacking

Words and ideas are a dime a dozen.  In general as human beings we blow a lot of hot air with what we say.  It’s what we actually do that matters.  Words are cheap but actions speak loudly.  What you make time for and where you invest your money will give you a very clear picture of your priorities and commitments. Most resolutions are just hot air.

All said, the new year is still a great time to plan, vision, and begin to make the changes you most want to see. It’s just that if you want things to be different you actually have to do differently. Here are a few secrets that will have you putting the screws to resolutions and instead being in the 10% of people who actually will make lasting changes. [Read more…]

The Little Things DO Matter – What REALLY Sets You Apart

This week I experienced a personal heartbreak.  It was during that time that I was once again reminded what truly sets someone (and their business) apart.  It has nothing to do with flashy stuff, extra letters after your name, or a snappy elevator pitch.  It is all about having heart, caring about the little things, and showing up to serve as a real, authentic, and caring human being.

CopperOur beloved cat Copper who was 16 had been experiencing old age kidney decline for the last 18 months, the last 3 of them being a high-maintenance, roller-coaster ride of giving her subcutaneous fluids and medication at home.  Any cat lover knows just how much fun giving a cat an IV and pills is, so you can imagine the stress of this time. She was a total trooper and such a good, sweet kitty the whole way for which we were grateful.

That is why it was so heartbreaking to have to put her down this week.  As I reflect on this experience, I was reminded how blessed I am to have so many of the service providers in my life be such top notch.

There are probably at least 5 veterinarians within a 4 mile radius of my house. Yet the one I have used through my years in this town far surpasses what it means to be of service.  It’s like a lesson in customer service and differentiating yourself from the competition every time I meet with them (and this includes not just the doctors but the extended staff). And, it has nothing to do with a sales pitch.

In just this 3 month period the good people at Telford Veterinary Hospital have:

  • Guided us wisely through the almost constant ups and downs of kidney failure and bladder infections.
  • Saved us untold upset by recommending one of their vet technicians to care for our cat and her medical needs when we had to travel for personal or business. (She went above and beyond and then some for us… I love this woman!)
  • Treated our cat and equally important us (the humans/owners part of the equation) with nothing but the most personal and compassionate care and communication.
  • Regularly followed up with us via phone and accommodated last minute appointment needs as the situation warranted.

You might think – well that’s just part of running a business, right?

Perhaps…But… [Read more…]

Roadmap to Self-Employment: Get Connected and Receive Support

While the term solopreneur might connote images of a one-person operation, that is never truly the case. Sure if you own your own business you are the Chief Everything Officer (at least on some level) and the buck stops with you, but going solo is not the time for succumbing to lone ranger syndrome.

Most people like me made the leap to forge their own path because they are self-directed, ambitious, and go-getters. This only exacerbates the problem of wanting to do it all yourself. I used to be a control-freak and the words my father always said would go through my mind: “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” The problem with this thinking is it isn’t scalable and it does not leverage your strengths. Instead you fall prey to burnout, wasting time and energy learning things that play to your weaknesses not your strengths, and doing a sub-par (or half-assed) job of the things you shouldn’t really be doing in the first place.

The antidote for this is to get connected and receive support.

Get Connected

Business runs on relationships. Nothing more and nothing less. Just as you need to connect with potential prospects and customers, you also need to connect with trusted colleagues, referral partners, and other people who own their own business just like you. If for nothing else to avoid going stir crazy! There is power in your network. Before I owned my own business I knew next to no one in my community. Once I started my business that all changed. I’ve been blessed to belong to some awesome local organizations (shout out to Women’s Business Forum and Network Now) that have enabled me to meet new friends, business partners, and trusted colleagues.

These are the people you will turn to when you need to:

  • Learn.
  • Give and receive referrals and recommendations on other service providers you might hire or organizations you might join.
  • Give and receive a boost of positive energy during down moments.
  • Collaborate for the greater good.
  • Do just about everything…

I find that a combination of online and offline relationship building is crucial. As much as I love my online community, the clients I’ve served in vastly different geographic locations, and the colleagues I’ve met, collaborated, and worked with virtually (BlogHer being one of them!), there is nothing like an in-person, close-to-home, real live person to be able to reach out to on a regular basis. They can actually give you big bear hugs when needed. They are also the people that will be able to connect you with local service providers when you need them whether an accountant for your business or someone to fix your broken toilet. Connect with and love all your peeps. [Read more…]

7 Surefire Ways to Lose Someone’s Trust (and Business)

Losing Someone's TrustRecently I was on the receiving end of an incredibly poor bit of customer service from someone I know and trust.  I am an incredibly local customer and a pretty reasonable person (hey, I know stuff happens and can roll with it) and yet there are some things that are simply deal breakers.

I’ll be the first to say that it pains me when I have to say goodbye to a service provider or company I love. Yet what I’ve learned the hard way is that hanging on or trying to sweep your concerns under the carpet because you don’t want anyone to feel badly is a fast path to compromising your own values, ignoring your own needs and deteriorating a relationship until it sours irrevocably.

I’d invite you to read the rest of this article through two lenses: The first lens: that of a business owner serving customers and the second lens: that of a customer partaking in someone else’s service.   Why?

If you’re a business owner you can’t possibly make these mistakes and expect to have positive customer relationships and a thriving business.  If you’re a customer (and we are all customers), you deserve to be respected and valued.  Your choice of where you spend your money and energy speaks volumes and is a direct reflection of the priorities in your life and your own self-esteem.

  1. Not Doing What You Say
    Nothing breeds distrust and unreliability like saying one thing and doing another.  It’s not hard to do what you say. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.  And by all means don’t say something if you don’t mean it.
  2. Not Showing Up
    Just as destructive as not doing what you say, blowing people off feels even worse.  It sends the message to them that they don’t matter and that you don’t respect them. If something out of the ordinary happens and you need to miss an appointment/connection with a customer you absolutely need to make things right by communicating swiftly and fully.
  3. Lack of Communication
    Mistakes happen. Deadlines get missed.  Emergencies and life moments intervene into even the best-laid plans and intentions.  People understand this. That said, you must communicate. Nothing puts the nail in the coffin and fuels an exodus like nonexistent or questionable communication.
  4. Not Listening to What Your Customers Say
    Do you actually listen to what your customers tell you?  Or do you let it go in one ear and out the other while nodding politely?  I can think of one service provider I worked with who never ever listened to what I said.  I felt ignored and after repeated attempts at making my concerns known (and subsequently ignored), I simply gave up and took my business elsewhere.
  5. Inconsistent/Nonexistent Follow Up and Follow Through
    Do you vanish into the mist after you promise something? Very similar to not doing what you say, not following through just screams unreliable.  Who wants to work with someone that is unreliable? No one I know.  You can put on a great show and network like crazy but if you don’t follow through you may as well stay home on the couch.
  6. Ignoring Customer Needs and Requests
    No one is better at ignoring requests than my local gym.  Like a suave politician, the owner pretends he cares, but then answers you in a way that lets you know he doesn’t care and isn’t doing anything about it.  While you certainly cannot bend to every customer whim and desire (that’s a recipe for failure) you do want to honestly acknowledge and respond to the needs and requests of those you serve.  If you keep hearing the same request over and over, see if there is a way you can meet that need in a way that feels good to you (new offering, service, referral, etc.).
  7. Doing a Half-Baked Job
    A quality job and a job done right is crucial.  Performance is a reflection of attitude. In today’s world with so many instances of slipshod work and poor customer service, you can set yourself apart with attention to detail and high quality service.

 

It’s not hard to avoid these 7 deadly sins…it just takes a conscious mindset and a willingness to be present with those you serve (and are served by).  And it makes all the difference in the world to your business and those you serve.  Go above and beyond and appreciate those you work with.  A simple note of gratitude warms the heart on both sides.

 

Credit Image: llreadll on Flickr

Are You Committed or Just Interested?

I bet that there are a number of things you say you want in your life or career.  I know I certainly have spouted off long lists at different times in my life. Perhaps you have said to yourself or out loud, I would like to:

  • Be fitter and healthier
  • Earn more money
  • Have my professional life align with who I am and my values
  • Start a business
  • Write a book, paint, play music
  • Create a beautiful atmosphere in my home environment
  • Speak my truth
  • Build wealth
  • Cultivate more faith and trust/deeper spiritual life
  • Be more adventurous
  • Have richer relationships
  • <insert your own desires…>

These are all lovely. I’ve spoken many of them aloud myself at one time or another.  I hear many of the people in my audiences and communities say these with gusto as well.  Then something interesting happens…

Read more … Are You Committed or Just Interested?

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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