The origin of New Year’s resolutions goes back as far as 153 BC, when January (named after Janus, god of all beginnings) replaced March as the first month of the Roman calendar.

In modern times, New Year’s resolutions too often evoke feelings of guilt. Most verbs associated with these resolutions are restrictive in nature, including quit, lose, reduce or eliminate. The implication is that we need to improve, fix or repair something that’s broken or incomplete. By their very nature, people often see New Year’s resolutions as a difficult exercise at best, requiring discipline, determination and will power—not exactly the most energizing words.

As a result, most people make their resolutions on January 1 and begin to break them by February 1 as their enthusiasm fades and their commitment wanes. Case in point: the extreme increase in traffic at health clubs at the beginning of the year, which quickly subsides as the weeks and months progress.

This year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, consider creating New Year’s revolutions. Based on the definitions below, which of the two would inspire you to get out of bed on January 2 and stick with your commitments?

Resolution: a solution, accommodation or settling of a problem.

Revolution: a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.

New Year’s revolutions are personal and broader in scope than the traditional resolutions. The framing of your revolutions requires stepping back and deciding what you want to be as opposed to what you need to do.

To stay inspired (as opposed to merely disciplined) with your New Year’s revolutions, consider these ten tips:

1. Goals are dreams with a deadline. Dreams are all about wants and desires without commitment, whereas goals are concrete and defined with commitment. Where do you ultimately want to be and what do you want to do? Write down three actionable goals that you will achieve by the end of 2009. Keep them visible so your daily actions will lead you to the attainment of these goals.

2. Positive attitude plus positive actions equals positive results. While having a positive mental attitude is a good start, it is the positive actions that follow that will lead to success as opposed to wanting and hoping for them to happen). Make a plan on how you will achieve each goal with mini-plans, mini-goals and corresponding dates for each.

3. Follow your passion. Commit to doing more of the invigorating activities that you enjoy doing and less of what you do not enjoy that leads to procrastination and stress. Delegate or hire out the latter. Your chores are other people’s challenges.

4. Soar with your strengths. Spend more time on those projects, tasks and activities that accentuate your talents and natural gifts, and less time on improving your weaknesses or shortcomings (delegate these

areas to others). Focusing on your strengths will increase your self-esteem and professional fulfillment, ultimately making you more successful.

5. Be the organized executive. Start the year fresh by doing a total catharsis or cleansing. Go through every piece of paper in your files with a goal to trash it, box it (future needs) or refile it (near-term needs). You will start out the year with a refreshed attitude. Begin or end each day with organizing or clearing your work space, even if it means hiding piles until you can get to them.

6. Re-analyze your to-do list. Are you working ten-, twelve- and fourteen-hour days and still not feeling that you’re getting it all done? Go over your to-do list and prioritize it to “do it,” “delegate it” or “scratch it.” Keep items that bring you personal, professional and monetary rewards and eliminate what steals your time. Make sure you add in your personal “want-to-do” items, as opposed to only those tasks that others ask you to do.

7. Compartmentalize your priorities. Once you have decided on your priorities of the day, week, month and year, focus on the tasks at hand, setting up firewalls to keep any distractions from diluting your focus. While we have two arms, two eyes and two ears, we have only one brain, so it is extremely difficult to simultaneously concentrate on two or more projects and do them well.

8. Change the way you see. By reprogramming your brain to see opportunities vs. obstacles, challenges vs. chores, and to celebrate what you’ve accomplished vs. feeling bad about what you have not, you will increase your energy, improve your attitude and raise your level of professional satisfaction.

9. Surround yourself with positive people. Good attitudes are contagious, elevating organizations to new heights. Bad attitudes are even more contagious, draining energy, accelerating discontent and destroying morale. Choose to spend your time with people who support you, encourage you and celebrate in your success.

10. Reinvent yourself. Top performers, like Clint Eastwood, Paul McCartney or Madonna, realize that change is cathartic, energizing and can be very good for a career. It is easy to become stale and accept the way things are if we don’t shake it up every once in a while, even in our dress and our surroundings.

Finally, we all have a goal to “get it all done,” when in reality we have to accept that this is an illusion: there is no way to accomplish all we want to do and all that our family, friends and organizations require. The reality is that wherever we spend our time, money and energy is where we will get the greatest results. Decide on what results you want to accomplish in 2009 and stay focused on your New Year’s revolutions.

MICHAEL GULD is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and radio
commentator whose business development expertise lies in increasing
productivity, sales performance, marketing exposure and customer delight.
He is the president of The Guld Resource Group and creator of
“Talking Business with Michael Guld,”airing on Central Virginia’s Public Radio.