Claiming Victory Over Your 2013 Business Resolutions

Are you over them yet? I know it seems awfully early in the new year to be discussing things we’re sick of, but if you’re like me, you’ve already had enough of the flood of “year’s best” lists. For everything from music and books to political gaffes and viral gifs, there’s someone somewhere choosing the winners and losers from the previous 365 days. And just when you think you’ve seen the last of them, the calendar rolls over to January 1st and out come the how-to lists, promising ways to make the next year amazing. Well, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So to start off 2013, I’m sharing the best business practices that helped me be more successful in 2012.

If I had to guess, I’d say you probably already have a good idea of what it will take to trounce your competition this year. You’ve probably been carrying around tons of plans in the back of your head for weeks, months, maybe years. Any of these sound familiar? Gain more press exposure, entice more customers, promote your e-commerce store, stoke the fires of your brand ambassadors, drive excitement through social media, launch new product categories and forge alliances with complementary businesses. If so, it’s not ideas you’re lacking; it’s execution.

If the ritual of celebrating the new year has taught us anything, it’s that resolutions are easy; follow-through is hard. No sooner are the streamers down and the champagne guzzled before we’re all filled with certitude about the ways in which we’ll trample our fears and conquer our bad habits. But for most of us by the time February arrives, the new year often looks suspiciously similar to the old one. Instead of prevailing over our obstacles, we’ve been pummeled by the demands on our time, energy and budget that simply maintaining the status quo requires.

It’s the reason why the prevailing attitude toward resolutions is negative and why so many people claim not to make them. But the truth is we make resolutions all the time — and not just for the new year. Each time we host an in-store event that was good but not stellar, we vow to start planning earlier next time. Or every time we see a fellow exhibitor at a show roll out a great new grouping or collection, we promise to have our own long-considered line ready for the next sales event. Or when we see a press release from a competitor, we decide that next time we have news, we’re going to be better at touting our accomplishments.

Since we can’t stop making resolutions, what we need are the tools for making them a success.

1. Bang out a Plan

It’s a sad fact that simply resolving to do something doesn’t get it done, or let’s face it, we’d all be skinny. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or secret sauce. It takes a plan and a timeline. If your goal is to “be more successful” or “sell more,” ask yourself what it will take. Identify areas of opportunity for your company and outline specific ways you can capitalize on them.

2. KO Your List Aversion

Even if you’re not a list maker, make a list. To-do lists organize your thoughts, hold you accountable and show you your progress. That last one is key. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of crossing something off a to-do list and then eventually noticing that the completed tasks outnumber the ones still waiting for attention. It’s the little boost of encouragement you need to lick that overwhelmed feeling that often comes with large projects.

3. Beat the Clock

Paper or digital, a calendar can help you triumph over time management. Block out the time you’re spending on tasks or in meetings or commuting so you can see where it’s all going — and what you can realistically accomplish in one day. Knowing how long things really take helps you plan more effectively and set goals that are realistic. You might have a million things you want to do for your business, but you’ll need to prioritize and tackle one or two at a time. By being realistic about what’s doable you’ll avoid feeling defeated when you take on too much. Plus, a record like this clearly illustrates where you’re wasting time.

4. Strike Early

If you’ve ever sought advice from a financial advisor, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “pay yourself first,” meaning before you get current on your bills or splash out on discretionary purchases, you should set aside a predetermined amount as savings. Using this approach, the money doesn’t just evaporate each month with nothing to show for it.

I propose you adopt the same principle when it comes to your time. Before your phone starts ringing with the problem of the day, you enter the first of many meetings or you dive into your inbox, carve out a block of time to work on those important tasks that would otherwise take up permanent residence at the bottom of your to-do list. By dispensing with these tasks early in the day, you start off with a sense of accomplishment — and things actually get done.

5. Cream the “I don’t wannas”

Speaking of the bottom dwellers on your list, ever notice they tend to be your most dreaded tasks or the big projects that seem insurmountable? While they molder away at the bottom of the pile, never seeing the light of day, you’re whipping through easier, more fun things. But those easier, fun things usually aren’t the ones that will get you out of your rut and on the path to making 2013 better than 2012.

Use that time you’ve set aside at the beginning of the day before distractions take hold to work on long-range and big plans, break them into manageable steps and start making progress. And the progress itself will give you the boost you need to get more done. Finally, banish dread. It’s a waste of time and energy. And mediating on how much you hate certain unsavory tasks only makes them seem even more so. Plus, the longer you avoid them, the more guilt you feel about not getting them done, adding to the mental baggage that weighs you down.

With these tools and a bit of discipline, who knows? Maybe 2013 will top your list of best years yet.

About Caletha Crawford

Caletha Crawford is a children’s apparel consultant who has spent more than 10 years covering the industry, most recently as editor in chief of Earnshaw’s magazine. Caletha has a unique perspective on the concepts, designs and companies that resonate with retailers and consumers. Her services include marketing, branding and social media. In an effort to usher in the next generation of design talent, she also teaches at Parsons The New School for Design.

Read more about Caletha’s business, client updates, market insights and trade show standouts in her newsletter at

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