New Year’s Resolutions

I have a terrible confession to make. I really don’t want too many people knowing this terrible and dark secret so I am entrusting the integrity of the readers of MSPAnswers to keep my secret safe. If word gets out, I fear I may be hung, drawn and quartered. Here goes. I don’t have any New Year’s Resolutions. I do admit that I feel a little inadequate without them. In fact, it was a little embarrassing sitting at a great party on 31 December and not being able to talk about lots of hastily made, overly ambitious, half-hearted resolutions that I know will be forgotten about as soon as the hangover kicks in. I even thought about making up a few just to feel at ease with fellow partygoers. It would be pretty easy to do. “Yeh, I am going to spend more time with my family, get fit, lose weight, quit drinking, donate more to charity, get out of debt and climb a coconut tree,” I could say to anyone that listened – the coconut tree would be thrown in just to prove that people don’t really listen or don’t care what you say. It would be way too easy to have a standard throw-away line like that ready – but I just couldn’t bring myself to be so fake.

I have a slightly different idea. I believe in the power of the incremental. I believe that every day is the day to resolve to improve. Don’t make changes as a one-off when a new year is looming – make lifestyle changes for the better throughout the entire year. In any business, I have a concept that I call the “one percenters”. It is ridiculous to try and change a business completely overnight. The best approach is to try and look for small incremental changes. The one per cent changes that, incrementally, will make a huge difference to your business.

Think of one drop of water. It doesn’t seem like much. But if you have a leaking tap, place a bucket underneath the tap and you will be amazed at how quickly that bucket fills up. All those little drops of water are like all the little one percent changes you can make in your business. They quickly add up to a large change.

Albert Einstein once said that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. This works on the same principle – lots of incremental changes add up to a large permanent change over time, even though society is tending to gear itself towards instant gratification.

Even changing your entire business model from break/fix to Managed Services can be done incrementally. Introduce fixed prices, introduce regular maintenance checks, introduce some trials with certain clients and then start to sign up clients to an SLA. After months of small changes you will look back and be amazed that you suddenly have a Managed Services business.

I do a lot of mountain bike riding – at least five mornings a week I am out on my bike somewhere. It is great fun and keeps me fit and healthy. Each year I am out on my bike on some regular rides on the first and second of January. I can guarantee that I will see dramatically higher numbers of people out on the regular tracks I ride on those two days. With “getting fit” normally so high on the resolution list (it usually features at number one or two) it is no surprise. It normally only takes a few days for the numbers to return to normal. I never tell these people that I see that they are wasting their time – because the statistics show that 8 per cent of these people will actually be successful with their resolution. Sadly, 92 per cent of New Year’s Resolutions fail with a staggering 80 per cent failing by 20 January!

Dieting seems to be the second most common resolution. People seem to jump from fad diet to fad diet faster than celebrities go through partners. I am not a fan of diet books but I love a book by Michael Pollan called Food Rules. It bases its advice on the principle of seven words. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Seems too simple and much easier to follow!

To everyone making resolutions, don’t let me totally discourage you. I simply say make decisions to change your life after careful deliberation, in moderation and with full resolve. And don’t wait until January 1st to make decisions to improve!

Having said all of that, I wish you all the very best for 2012 and I hope you find ways to make incremental changes every single day!

Tell me if you have any New Year’s Resolutions at [email protected].

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