New Year’s Resolutions… or Mere Wishes?

I had an interesting, and inspiring, discussion while dining with friends. The first part of the discussion covered why it is important to have New Year’s resolutions (as opposed to the jaded response of “Whatever…I know I’ll never follow any resolution.”). The second part dealt with why you need to ensure that your resolutions are more than just wishes, but actions that you settle upon and resolve to make happen. The difference between the two is one key word: resolve.

This struck a chord with me, because it unmasks the reason why so many resolutions fail: they are not really resolutions, they’re just wishes. People look at the big picture, make a big idea “wish,” but they neglect to define the specific steps and actions to attain the wish.

For example, a perennial placeholder in Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions is “lose weight and get fit.” This is a good idea… but it’s not a resolution. To resolve to do this requires an active plan: 1. Walk 4 miles, 5 x each week; 2. Count and track calories each day; 3. Eat 4 servings of green, red, or yellow fruits/vegetables each day; 5. Weigh in each week; etc. A wish is a hope for something that might happen—a resolution moves forward with nitty-gritty actions that combine planning and hard work to help make the wish come true.

Applying Resolve in Your Ad Agency

The wishes-to-resolutions approach is a viable approach to growing and maintaining your business. Consider agency new business and the difference between:

A. “We’re going to land 3 of our AA prospects this year”; and

B. “We will establish a plan for, and directly target 25 AA prospects this year:

  • Allocate X amount of budget to cultivate these prospects
  • Allocate X amount of research hours to develop intelligence and information about those prospects, their industries and customers
  • Define a timetable for in-person, phone, email and social media outreach/contact
  • Focus staff awareness on cultivating those specific prospects, etc.
  • Execute the daily, defined contact process."

Obviously, approach A is a wish. It might come true… but it might not. It’s something that the manager or principal of an agency might think about each day throughout the year to come. But, approach B offers a way to put thoughts into actions, systematically planning the approach and setting specific goals and timetables. As one person said, “If you want that wish to come true, you’d better stop praying, get up off your knees, and start working on it!”

Resolve to:

  • Make resolutions (goals) specific.
  • Assign action items to specific people.
  • Assign completion dates or milestones to each step or action.
  • Check-in regularly to assess progress or needs.
  • Update actions to keep your resolve moving forward.

As you move forward into the New Year, remember that resolutions are still important. Wishes are not a bad thing, but they are only the start and the seed of something good. Take your ideas and wishes to the next level and schedule some time to plan where you want to go in your agency life. Consider holding annual planning sessions, and encourage your staff to spend time exploring what they wish for in the coming year. Then challenge them to come up with real world resolutions to bring those wishes closer to reality, and within reach.