The Hangover Prayer

Dear Business-Builder,

Back in the old days – when 99% of my business was creating direct mail promotions – it was a well-known fact that there are two crucial “hot points” for marketing every year: January and September.

Why? Well, because these two months signal watershed events in our prospects’ lives.

In January, we’ve just endured the holidays. We ate too much, drank too much, gained too much weight and did too little work.

In September, we’d just survived the summer. We ate too much, drank too much, gained too much weight and did too little work.

So on these two dates, we feel guilty, fatter, poorer – and more than a little panicked that our lives deviated from the mean – than at any other time of the year.

And so, beginning bright and early on January 2 and September 2 as our heads begin to clear, we observe our semi-annual penitence: A time for agonizing reappraisals of our priorities. A time for resolutions. A time to reapply our proboscises to the proverbial grindstone.

You know what? Nothing has changed. Because human nature never changes.

Ever hear of The Hangover Prayer? Most of us have used it. First you kneel (usually in front of a porcelain alter), close your eyes, and tug on The Almighty’s robe: “Dear God,” you intone, “please, please, please don’t let me die. I promise I’ll never, EVER drink again.”

“Oh – and this time, I mean it!”

I’ve often thought that, because of the sheer volume of praying that occurs on those two days – they should be declared official religious holidays. I mean; why not? Almost nobody shows up for work anyway!

At any rate, since January marks the beginning of a period of renewed commitments and intensity, millions of our prospects will be looking for products and services to help them actually deliver on their resolutions this time around.

So expect more ads for Weight Watchers and NutriSystem on TV … more health and wealth promotions in your mail box … and more promos for self-help products of all stripes in your inbox.

Also, you may want to mark your calendar: The next big opportunity to sell the heck out of your self-help products comes in just 235 days.

But that’s not what I’m really writing about, here. I’m thinking about the resolutions I’ve already made this year …

  • To shed a ton of weight and get back in shape.
  • To launch a new consumer product online every six weeks – eight in the next year.
  • Most importantly, to spend more time with the two greatest kids on the planet. And to do my darndest to make sure that The Redhead is the happiest married lady in the galaxy.

But that’s just the “what.”

Now, it’s time for the tough part: “HOW?”

See, this is where most resolutions fall apart. We all know what we should do and beyond that, what we need to do to turn our dreams into reality. It’s crafting an action plan – and then sticking to it – that flummoxes us.

Now, I’m not going to try to tell you I’m the most disciplined guy you’ll ever meet. If I did, The Redhead and all our employees and friends would probably jump on this blog and make me into a laughingstock.

Truth is, I’m probably the least disciplined guy I know. I love to procrastinate. Giving myself the day off is one of the great joys of my life. So if any of my resolutions have a prayer of lasting more than a nanosecond, I know I’ll need three things:

  1. A clear vision of what I want my life to be like on September 2, 2011 …
  2. A detailed daily or even hourly action plan that ensures that I do everything required to get there, and …
  3. People to keep me accountable along the way.

Of course, reams have been written by self-help gurus about #1 and #2 above.

Item #1 is simply positive thinking … keeping your vision before you … and making it as tangible as possible in your mind.

And we’ve all heard – ad nauseam – that the tactical part, item #2 above is crucial because the Devil really is in the details.

But you know what? Giving ourselves excuses for our failure to carry though – justifying our lack of discipline – is the killer.

So we all need a nag.

Someone who knows us as well as we know ourselves … who can see through our excuses … and who doesn’t mind (better yet, delights in) providing the swift kick in the keester we need to get back on track.

And we also need help from people who aren’t quite as close – strangers, even.

I’ve heard that Weight Watchers is far more effective at helping folks lose weight than any other diet plan out there. And for me, that has proved true.

Why? Because every Thursday at 5:30, I knew I’d hear a total stranger say, “OK – so jump up on the scale and let’s see how you did.”

And every week, the number that stranger would give me blew away every rationalization, every excuse, every little indulgence I thought I’d gotten away with right out of the water.

In that one moment, rationalization I’d indulged in was exposed for what it was: Mental monkey-spanking; pure and simple.

So priority #1 is to find people who’ll nail me when I screw up.

Next, someone who’s job it is to notice when I do things right.

Like Martha-the-customer-care babe, for instance. I once told her, “Your new job is to notice when I lose weight and to say so.”

Next day, I had an e-mail: “You look so skinny,” Martha said, “It looks like a whole family of Gypsies just moved out of the seat of your pants.”

I beamed.

That’s my plan – what’s yours?

What are your goals for the next 235 days? Where do you want to be on September 2, 2011?

What do you need to do to get there?

Who’s going to help keep you honest as you work towards your goal?

Share your ideas with us – and maybe pick up some helpful ideas in the blog below …

Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Clayton Makepeace Signature
Clayton Makepeace
Publisher & Editor

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7 Responses to The Hangover Prayer

  1. John Mauldin says:

    First, let me commend you on your stellar site, the ideas and information you share, the personality you project and much more. You are an inspiration to all you touch!
    For over three decades, I worked diligently in growing emerging companies into national or international successes through the magic of franchising. I built my practice off of successful attainment of the goals we set with my clients using a “track to run on” consisting of daily or even hourly “things to do” that kept me focused. Without that track, I would find myself lost and floundering. With it, I found I often realized the goals I had set much faster than I had imagined: The realization of so many was seemlingly automatic!
    As important as it is to have that “track to run on” was my attitude of “getting it done”. So many people ask how I can do so much with so much apparent ease. And my answer is always the same, if it needs to get done, just get up and do it! Don’t think about it after you prepare, just get off your duff and do it. Results will always come and if you are not doing it right, your efforts will help demonstrate your weaknesses and what you need to correct to get to your goals. I wish you and all of your staff, as well as your readers, a Happy and Prosperous New Year! John Mauldin

  2. Sarah says:

    Hey Clayton,

    I’ve got a great gift for you and all your readers looking for an easy, simple and effective way to get more things done, keep your focus, and get in better shape. (Yes, I slipped in a few copywriting “hot” words there)

    See, despite having a farm and farmwork, as I started writing more and picking up my kids less (they’re now too big for that!), I found I also started gaining more (not just in income.

    Over the last few years, I’ve been putting what I’ve learned as a health copywriter combined with my husband’s genius/common sense approach to keeping the weight off while glued to the computer all day. And now I’m about to put these healthy strategies out there as a business.

    So along with you, I’ve resolved to launch a new angle to my health copywriting business this year. It’s a publishing business focused on how to stay healthy while running a home business (and it works for people who works in offices too).

    And speaking of accountability . . . the wonderful thing about starting something like this is that you’ve got to practice what you preach. I’ve got a growing list that is keeping me doing the things I talk about. And pushing me to keep producing new tools and publications.

    So while I can’t help you out like Martha does on weight loss, I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for the consumer products you mentioned.

    BTW, I’m glad to see such a balanced list of resolutions – family and business both having a place in your goals for success this year. Money doesn’t mean much if you can’t enjoy the experiences it brings with people you love.

  3. My resolution is to write like Clayton Makepeace. Nobody sends a mental missile into my brain like Clayton. If you want people to buy stuff you’re selling in print, you’d better make your print so readable, the reader can’t stop till the very end. And Clayton does that on every thing he writes. So, my resolution is to write like Clayton Makepeace. I guess that makes me an easy touch for all the info products sold on this website. And why not? If I could write like Clayton Makepeace I’d have my own cool website with tons of stuff to sell.

  4. Clay says:

    Your description of The Hangover Prayer is funny! Ever hear of The Beer Prayer?

    Our Lager,
    Which art in barrels,
    Hallowed be thy drink.

    Thy will be drunk,
    (I will be drunk),
    At home as in the tavern.

    Give us this day our foamy head,
    And forgive us our spillages,
    As we forgive those who spill
    Against us.

    And lead us not into incarceration,
    But deliver us from hangovers.
    For thine is the beer,
    The bitter, and the lager,
    For ever and ever,

    All joking aside, thanks for the tips on cultivating a vision and taking action towards our goals. Blessings!

  5. Great column as always Clayton. Like you, I’ve found that accountability is key. You need a big reason why. Deadlines that dangle like a noose to hang you. Daily tracking and planning, plus public commitments for future projects are keeping me on track so far this year.

    Clay…love that “Hangover Prayer”

  6. Hi Clayton

    Here is Aus the seasons are different so my goals are similar – seasons different. Summer here now and winter where you folk are – so its the reverse process :)

    My goals are to keep moving ahead in business and with my 4 kids/family/friends. To learn as much as I can and improve the skills I have, make mistakes and learn from them. To thrive not simply exist. Have days when I wallow in the mud
    (occasional procrastination), get over it and enjoy life. To be fitter and create something worthwhile – to make money and use it wisely. Another words create a life worth living :)

    Have someone whom I can be accountable to and vise a versa.
    I value honesty, and a kick with honesty is good to keep me on the right track. There is work to be done.

    Action plan on a daily basis is essential for me.

    All the best with all the resolutions – you can do it. From one almost eternal optimist, I believe if you want something bad enough, a goal that is quality to you, you can almost always get it.

    Happy belated New Year as well to everyone.

    Thanks for a great post Clayton.

    Susan in Aus

  7. Ron says:


    I don’t know about you but on September 2, 2011, I plan to be OFFSHORE, running my little companies in complete freedom, with no corporate and no personal taxes, away from the U.S. government, the IRS, the politicians, the regulatorsl, the over regulation, the entire mass of government debt that you and every one left are going to be paying for.

    But hey, that’s just me Clayton, as my brother used to say, put on your crash helmets because it’s going to be coming down folks.

    Keep up the great work!

    Abundant blessings,


    PS I’ll send you some of my pre IPO stock, I’m going to be giving it away for free, well, almost free, you just have to pay the transfer fees. Lots of other wall street and main street gamblers made money taking paper, writing some chicken sratches on it and creating wealth and equity, why not me?

    PSS Got a better idea, why don’t you think about joining us, we’ll put you on the Board of Directors and publish your book, sell it all over the world, multiple languages.

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