New Year's resolutions - we all make them and break them.

In fact, by now most of us have already broken the resolutions we made on Dec. 31, 2003. If we have such good intentions with our resolutions, why do we have so much trouble keeping them? I believe the main reason is that the resolutions we make and the goals they require are often not very attainable.

How many people do you know who have resolved to quit smoking or to lose a certain amount of weight - every year for the last 10 years? If they failed the last 10, is it likely they will succeed this year? The secret to making resolutions valuable to you from both a personal and professional standpoint is to make the resolutions attainable.

Business Resolutions

From a business perspective, we can make resolutions, which can be important tools for the improvement of our business. Every business, no matter how successful, can always use a re-evaluation.

Since business is often slow around the holidays, the new year is a perfect time to step back and look at your business to determine which areas could be improved. I recommend using the first of the year to sit back and take a good look at your entire operation and resolve to make improvements in the year ahead.

But the key, as you make these resolutions, is to make them attainable. For example, you might like to be the largest contractor in your area, with 100 trucks, etc. But if today you are a five-man operation, you are only kidding yourself if you make that your resolution. You will quickly find that you are not going to succeed and may become discouraged and not accomplish any growth. On the other hand, if you set a goal of increasing your business 20 percent this year and adding one person, that goal is obtainable, and it is much more likely that you will put out the effort to accomplish it.

I have a suggestion for making the process even more helpful and valuable to your company. In order to keep from selecting large, unobtainable resolutions, I recommend making a number of small resolutions that, with some effort, are clearly obtainable.

Take it even a step further and put your resolutions in a practical order that will make it even more likely that you will be able to accomplish them. Make a list of 12 items you would like to do to improve your business, then put them in order and make it your resolution to accomplish one each month during the year. If you look at it as a list of 12 to be done all at once, you will likely accomplish none. On the other hand, if you set out to accomplish just one per month, you will have that entire month to be successful.

Monthly Goals

To make it easy for you to begin this process, I'm going to give you some suggestions for areas of your business to look at to set your 2004 resolutions. The month you determine for each goal is up to you, but remember to keep in mind the cycles of your business.

1. Set long-term goals. It may sound redundant to set as a goal setting up goals. However, every so often we need to take a look at the big picture and take a look at where we want to be in five or 10 years. This is a great time to make your first resolution to hold long-range planning meetings to determine your course for the future.

2. Re-evaluate your physical facility. Often the first part of the year is a good time to take a look at your shop and office. If nothing else, I'm sure it's due for some straightening and cleaning. A builder customer of ours has a day in February that is called "purge the files and clean the desk day." All of the employees spend the day emptying files and cleaning their area. Or you might want to decide to rearrange some things in your shop or warehouse operation for more efficiency. Usually February is a good time to accomplish something in this area.

In my next column, I'll continue with a list of 10 more items to set as your resolutions for 2004. In the meantime, prove to yourself that you can make resolutions work for you by accomplishing these two - one per month. I hope you can make this idea work for you and in the process have a happy and prosperous 2004.

Guest columnist Butch Welsch operates Welsch Heating & Cooling in St. Louis. He can be reached by e-mail at

Publication date: 01/12/2004