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Every year at this time, most of us are making “resolutions” of how to improve ourselves for the upcoming year. We resolve to go on a diet, save more money, take time off with the kids, and so on. Business people usually take it one step further, resolving to do all the things they “put off” in the last year because they ran out of money, or opportunity knocked, or they just forgot. We all do this – while conveniently forgetting the most common thing about New Year’s Resolutions is that we usually forget about them by the end of January!

So this year, why don’t we resolve NOT to make any resolutions, and try something much better, instead…

One of the most common characteristics of successful companies (and indviduals) is that they don’t actually make “resolutions” at the beginning of each year. They don’t need to “remind” or “decide” to do something that’s critical to their business success – because they implement those actions every day. Successful companies don’t “resolve” to become successful; instead, they have a plan to be successful, and they consistently implement it every day. Even New Year’s Day.

Resolutions are dangerous. They can provide us with a temporary boost in productivity – whether it’s to eat better or to prospect more customers – but they are also a “package deal” that comes with a built-in “excuse” for that moment shortly after making the resolution when we give up. When we stop implementing our resolutions, we can excuse ourselves because they were “just resolutions” to try something; and heck, don’t we just forget about our resolutions like everyone else every year, too?

It would be much better to have NO resolutions each year. Instead, it would be more effective – and ultimately more successful – to have a fairly clear business plan (or any plan, for our health, our education, our family time, etc.) and stick to it. In fact, you don’t even need a GREAT business plan with the “sticking to it” strategy. Most of our clients at Matthew Ferrara & Company are brokerages who have solid, straightforward business plans whose¬† effectiveness does not come from it’s fanciness. Instead, it comes from it’s consistent implementation – year in, year out. Successful real estate brokers and effective real estate agents never resolve to accomplish crazy goals – but to regularly implement forward-moving goals. Rather than trying to “lose 50 pounds in three months” they decide instead to “maintain a good, solid diet every day of the year.”

Companies everywhere might find they spend less money and time on “failed resolutions” and see more results from keeping-going with their everyday plans. In the first quarter of the year, when their competition is trying to learn, finance and implement their new “resolutions” they will be silently chugging along with their everyday-plan for consistent results. And consistency is the key to effectiveness.

If you believe sales are accidents, right-place-at-the-right-time, luck-driven events, then resolutions to increase those rare moments make sense. If you believe sales are the product of a business plan with clear goals, targeted consumer segments and consistent prospecting and client relationship management, then you don’t need any resolutions. Of course, you’ll make decisions and adjustments – as you implement your plan, you will measure results and modify tactics – but those are not the same as “resolutions” which ask you to take on Herculean-objectives that are far beyond your everyday-implementation reach. Which is why they end up in failure too often.

Too often, we think of resolutions like magic pills to solve our woes – whether it’s losing a few pounds or gaining a few customers. In fact, we even know, deep down inside, that they are fads, fantasies, future-excuses for failures. Successful real estate professionals tell us every year – when they are asked to be on “top agent panels” at our conventions – that the simple, everyday secret to real estate is to consistently do the simple, everyday activities of a sales person. Adopt new tools when needed; adjust your technique to the changing consumer marketplace and economy. But stick to a simple, everyday plan and you’ll create simple everyday results.

At a time when everyone is making resolutions to do the crazy, the bizarre, the un-attainable, maybe your best bet this year is to resolve to keep it simple: Stick to your business plan. Implement it every day, one step at a time. And in about one month, when a lot of people’s resolutions fizzle and they find themselves confused as to why they didn’t meet with success, you may find that the best resolution was not to have any new resolutions at all.

Wishing you success for 2009!

– Matthew Ferrara