Did you know only 40 to 45% of American adults make new year’s resolutions? I’ll assume those 50 to 55% who don’t make new year’s resolutions did at one time, but gave up because in the past they’ve just worn off. Common new year’s resolutions involve weight loss, exercise, smoking, better money management, etc. Personally, over the years I’ve tried everything from the big, hairy audacious goals, to the wimpy, conservative goals. Some have stuck, others haven’t, but I always look forward to the fresh new opportunity that comes with a new year. This year I’m shooting for a more balanced approach with one big business goal, one fitness goal and one family related goal. Will they all stick? Well, according to some research here are my odds: 75% of new year’s resolutions are maintained past the first week, 71% past two weeks, 64% after one month and 46% after six months. But, what I like most about my chances is that those same studies indicate that those who explicitly set new year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not. After all, any hockey player knows you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
We’re obviously in one hell of a downturn, and I’ve recently read that it’s speculated 3,000-plus of the 7,500 franchised dealers are now gone, with many more to follow. This information, coupled with the preparation required of our recently completed "Sales and Marketing Recession Rescue" bootcamp, prompted me to stumble upon this fascinating story of Earl Nightingale that I haven’t heard or seen in at least a decade. It’s been called the most interesting story in the world.
Earl was born in Los Angeles in 1921. At an early age, Earl’s father left home. Earl, his brother and mother were left on their own in the midst of the Great Depression. With jobs extremely difficult to come by, Earl’s mom struggled to support the family by working at a sewing factory; she resorted to housing the family in a tent city. Earl absolutely hated being poor and couldn’t understand why his family and all those around him were so poor while there were some people, in fact, many people, who not only had money, but were rich. He would ask his mom and neighbors why this was, but nobody had an answer and nobody seemed particularly bothered by being poor.
It was at this point Earl began frequenting the local library in search of answers. For the next 20 years Earl researched, experienced and evaluated why it was that some achieved success while others came up short. Here’s what he found: If you take 100 individuals who start on even ground at the age of 25 with grandiose hopes and aspirations of success and money, by the time they are 65 only one will end up rich. Four will make it to financial independence, five will still be working and 54 will be broke.
So what’s the difference? Here’s what Earl had to say: "The difference is goals. People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. It’s that simple. Failures, on the other hand, believe that their lives are shaped by circumstances, by things that happen to them, by exterior forces."
With that in mind, regardless of the economy, wouldn’t you agree 2010 is a great year to set some new goals? Here are a few strategies I like to leverage regarding goal setting.
Measured progress: You may have heard me refer to WGMGD: What’s good is Miller Genuine Draft … Well, maybe not. WGMGD is an acronym that stands for "what gets measured gets gone." Benchmark statistics are great motivators, as are pre-determined deadlines. Whether it’s your body weight, payroll percentages, jogging minutes per mile average, or a percent increase from your previous year’s sales, personal or professional, there’s nothing quite like the power of numbers.
If it ain’t in writing it ain’t a Goal: (I sometimes catch hell for my southern accent, so I figure I might as well run with it.) The Lt. Colonel taught me the importance of committing goals to writing. Over the years I’ve found that if I write it down and review it daily it magically gets done!
Commitments to others: Those with integrity don’t like to say one thing and do another. I’ve always believed strongly in the positive power of peer pressure and find that sharing your commitments with other like-minded individuals greatly increases the chances you’ll make it happen. High achievers routinely put themselves under the gun to meet publicized deadlines.
Subject matter immersion: Input is in direct correlation to ouput. Inspiration can come from many places, including books, magazines, TV, friends, family, the Internet, etc. The encouragement you receive from external influences to set and keep your goals is greatly dependent upon your ability to stimulate yourself with the right subject matter.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Happy new year and happy new year’s resolutions.