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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

New Year's Resolution Tips
By Paul Tomori
Monday, January 09, 2012 at 23:15:04 (EST)

The start of each new year is filled with overly-idealistic (and often vague) resolutions. I am not immune to this farcical goal-setting. However, I have found a few ways to make it less prone to failure.

First, a case study of my own life. You know those jobs that take 2 months and 5 minutes to do? I did one tonight. Our new dishwasher was not properly attached to the cabinetry and it was sitting at a slight angle and was shifting whenever you yanked on the door. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to fix it, so the uncertainty about what needed to be done gave me an excuse to keep putting it off for 2 whole months! Today, I just got sick of looking at it and studied it for about 1 minute, figured out what needed to be done, got my drill, got some longer screws, adjusted the feet, and wrapped up the fix in about 5 minutes. It reminded me of a fawcett fix at my previous house. For a whole year (at least), I suffered through showers where the bath fawcett dripped part of the water out instead of closing off so that the shower water volume would be full on. I just didn't know how to fix the problem, til one day I got fed up with my procrastination and made it a question for a staffer at Home Depot. He handed me a small $5 part and said "this works in 95% of the cases". When I got home, I simply unscrewed the old fitting and screwed in the new one. Voila, that fixed it. The whole corrective measure took about 2 minutes or should I say "one year and 2 minutes".

Most resolutions are hindered or saboted by lack of initiative. Thus, the first resolution for most people should be to reduce procrastination. This is usually achieved by defining exactly what needs to be done. I can say from 17 years of experience in the website business that projects stall when the parameters are vague or when the people working the project have not been communicated their tasks with sufficient granularity to actually start working. For example, calling upon someone to make a website "search engine optimized" is totally inadequate. They'll put it off and wonder about how to get started while precious time goes by. Instead, outline 20 exact coding adjustments that are needed for a site to be considered optimized, then those 20 items become a kind of checklist. Stepwise to do lists are intuitive, easy to follow and more guaranteed to get done.

Let's look at two of the more popular resolutions I hear.

Many people say, "I am going to lose 10 pounds". Yet, that in itself is simply too vague. That only states the outcome. But, it leaves you without a clear plan as to "what will I DO differently tomorrow?" It's better to breakdown this kind of goal into a handful of rules or action steps to be followed. For example:

  1. I will go to the YMCA every week day for one hour starting at 8 a.m.
  2. I will do 20 minutes of swimming, 20 minutes of cross-trainer, and 20 minutes on the treadmill
  3. I will replace bread-based sandwiches with low cal wraps
  4. I will replace sodapop with cold water except on weekends (you can't rule out ALL fun)
  5. I will order cappuccino's instead of latte's (for about half the calories)
  6. etc...

Rule-based resolutions at least have a chance. One still needs discipline, but at least what needs to be done is part of the conscious-awareness.

Same goes with financial health.

To say, "I am going to save more" simply doesn't cut it. Once again, this is too vague and refers more to an outcome than to the process. Instead, take an hour and identify your income sources and your expenses in a simple spreadsheet and determine what amount of savings can be had off each paycheck (it's called a budget), then setup a savings account or an investment account and transfer the savings amount immediately after depositing your paycheck. They call it "paying yourself first". The best place to put such funds is in an RRSP, because then it feels more locked up and the discipline to avoid tax liabilities from withdrawing the money will keep it invested. There are lots of steps to all of this, but it doesn't take much to hit your bank and apply for the account, get it linked through your web banking, then identify granular specifics of income and spending habits.

What's funny is that I intended to write this blog sooner, but I didn't know exactly what I was going to say and I didn't schedule a due date for myself. So, I have setup a note file where I can draft point-form outlines of blog posts, and I have added a schedule entry to my calendar to remind me to publish weekly. Lucky you! All the best in 2012.

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