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:
- A clear vision of what I want my life to be like on September 2, 2011 …
- A detailed daily or even hourly action plan that ensures that I do everything required to get there, and …
- 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.”
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,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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