Is Your New Year’s Resolution a Good Goal?

Category: Strategy

I once watched a webinar presented by Patrick Thean, CEO of Gazelles Systems entitled ‘Is Your Annual Plan Helping You Double Your Business?’ At this time when so many people are setting New Year’s resolutions, I found the topic particularly apt.


Mr. Thean created a tool that breaks down goals on two axes:

·         Impact and

·         Easiness.

Tying in with the title of his presentation, high impact goals have the potential to triple your income in 3-5 years while low impact goals have less than a 50% growth over the next 3-5 years. Depending on your overall vision of what you are planning to achieve, you may define impact differently. For example, a not-for-profit may define impact as the number of people served in a year.

Easiness, not surprisingly, has to do with the amount of effort that needs to be expended to achieve the goal. At the low end are goals that require no additional resources while at the high end are goals that require large amounts of time, money, or energy to accomplish.

Obviously, goals that are high impact and easy are some of the most valuable. In fact, Mr. Thean calls this sector must do, winning moves. At the opposite end are those goals that are low impact and not easy. You’ve probably already figured out that these are losing moves and not worth investing your time in.

The two remaining sectors are the most interesting. Some goals will be high impact and not easy. These goals are what Mr. Thean calls might do, winning moves. They are goals that should be looked at closely. Because they are hard you may want to dismiss them; however, because they are hard they could also become something that distinguishes your company and creates a bigger barrier to competitors.

Zappos.com provides a good example of this type of goal. At a critical juncture in Zappos’ growth they realized that they needed to discontinue drop shipping shoes from the shoe manufacturers and open their own warehouse so that they could control the customer service aspects of the shipping process. This decision had a very high impact and resulted in a significant increase in sales in the very first year. However, it also was a very risky, time consuming, and expensive endeavor to set up. Not only did they need to acquire the warehouse and hire staff to run the warehouse, they also needed to purchase their own inventory of shoes rather than pay for them as they were sold.

The final sector contains goals that are low impact and easy. At first glance, you may think that these are ‘low hanging fruit’ or goals that should be accomplished first. The common thought is “I’ll get these easy things done first then I can concentrate on the bigger more challenging projects.” However, this sector is filled with what I call shiny baubles. Shiny baubles are distractions that look like opportunities. In this case, because the tasks are easy to perform they look attractive. In most cases, they will have some impact and the rationalization is that the tradeoff is a good one. This, however, is a lie. In reality, these shiny baubles will eat up your time, money and energy - resources that are better spent on higher impact goals.

So, as you begin implementing your New Year’s resolutions, both business and personal, I encourage you to evaluate them for their impact and easiness. If it is high impact and easy, go forward and conquer! If the goal is high impact and not at all easy, determine if it is strategically important. If so, break it down into smaller pieces and get it done. If your goal is low impact, it is a losing move and a shiny bauble. Either figure out how to change it to make it high impact or simply cut it loose and look for a better, high impact goal.

I wish you success in achieving your New Year’s Resolutions. If it’s high impact and it’s important to you I know that you will get it done!