What Happened to Your New Year Resolutions

What happened to New Year’s resolutions? For many of us they were made like a long held ritual and now we are past them… while, still being where we were before the resolutions. Whatever the resolutions, however, they are tossed or forgotten in the second month as they were in the past years … at least for some of us. It’s time to do a reality check.

 Today majority of us are perennially chasing tasks on our To-Do lists, we are always frantically trying to get things done….making resolutions and the like. There is never enough time in the day. We are running while eating and eating while we are running. The New Year’s resolutions are to get those things done that are long overdue….to be more organized and to better manage our time trying to use outlook more effectively or the PDA. Yet at the end of the day, week, month, or year, we are always left haggard and tired with unfinished work still trying to figure out how to keep our heads above the water.

Time Management vs. Self Management

Truth is that the main problem is not our inability to get things done. The failure results from poorly defined issues, rather than poorly defined solutions or lack of action. Most people are actually barking up the wrong tree when they struggle with their “TO DO” lists. They say it’s about time management. But that’s an incorrect assertion. The solution lies not in time management, but in self management. There is a very significant and fundamental difference between these two.

When we see issues from the perspective of time management we see problems that are not getting done. But the really problem in most cases is not knowing what to do. Such an ineffective perspective obviously leads to long lists that keep getting longer. Is there a way out of this vicious circle? You bet,  keep the following points in mind and you will see yourself happily ticking off items from your to-do-list

 Wanting It All

 Everybody has the same amount of time, from Bill Gates to his Janitor. However it  is likely that the Janitor has a long list of things-to-do while Bill Gates does not. So how does Mr. Gates do that? For starters, he doesn’t waste time doing things that are not important. The core problem with most people struggling with ever-growing to-do-lists is that they get distracted into doing a variety of things that can be skipped or they keep moving from one task to another without completing anything. The solution is obvious - focus on one doing one thing and one thing only at any given point in time. If you are in the plumbing business and get an opportunity to do yard work, decline it. Focus on building your plumbing business. Otherwise you will become a handyman and not a business man. If you are a financial consultant and frequently get offers for marketing consulting, turn your back on them, and focus on becoming a high margin financial consultant instead. Don’t dabble and don’t get distracted. Define what you want to do and stick to it. Otherwise, it will be no wonder if your to–do-list grows longer with all kinds of tasks.

Another problem with incomplete projects is the lack of personal commitment. Most people would remember projects that they started but never finished, the reason behind this in most cases would be that there is desire but not commitment. Don’t go looking for a motorcycle like a cross eyed teenager, if you know for a fact that you are not actually going to buy it. That’s a waste of time. You have to organize your activities in such a way that you do not have too many things to do. If you want to finish many tasks you will spread yourself thin, and keep getting distracted like a child in a toy store. Of course, once you are doing well and producing more than you need, you can hire others to work for you, and move on to doing other things that you may have wanted to do - but not until then. For example, run a single division company until you are ready to put together a team to start the second division.

 Ignoring Good Principles

 Instead of spending time on applying every marketing technique in the book and every recommended sales tactic, you’ll be better served if you focused on differentiating your business. Think about it,  is it preferable to take 20 pills a day if you can simply eat well and exercise regularly to stay fit and avoid the doctor? Do you like spending hours on maintaining your yard when you could live in a high rise condo and reclaim that time to use it in a more interesting and productive manner. Remember there is something fundamentally wrong with the way you work if you have too much to do. It is important that you focus on what you are best at doing. If you can’t manage your accounting you need to hire an accountant and a book keeper. If you can’t hire one then you need to be doing a different business that allows you to have enough money to hire an accountant. If you focus on creating healthy grass on your lawn, the weed problem will automatically disappear. If you focus on revenue then payroll problems would automatically disappear. Identify your focus and stick to it without getting distracted.

 Identify what you should be ideally doing within your limits of capability and readiness. Then do it and do not worry about other issues. If you are doing anything that is different from what you should be doing then either you are in the wrong place or you are not ready to do what you are doing, in which case you should be first focusing on getting ready.

 Thoughtful Preparation

Don’t start any project unless you are ready for it. Mountain climbers spend a lot of time in preparation before they head for the Himalayas. Wanting to be the CEO is not enough. You will need to do what it takes to be a CEO. Simply getting an Executive MBA and doing similar things may not be the best use of your time.


 Remember fresheners can't remove a bad smell if there is a dead rat around. You need to remove that dead rat first. Resolutions will not solve your problem either. You need to clarify your resolve first.