Simon Turton, of Opera Public Relations, considers why we struggle to maintain our New Year resolutions.

It’s commonly understood that robins return to the UK in time for Christmas, which must be true because we only see these attractive little orange-breasted birds at this time of year. And, to quickly digress, if you’ve ever wondered why it’s ‘robin red breast’ it’s because we had no word for the colour orange, until oranges first arrived in Europe in the 1500s (it is the fruit that names the colour, not the other way round).

The prolific use of the robin on Christmas cards and on advent calendars only serves to reinforce what is in fact a myth: robins actually live here in the UK all year round. We only tend to notice robins at this time of year because we expect to see them.

It is at this time of year that we also tend to reflect on the year that is drawing to a close and start to look forward to the next 12 months.

As business owners, directors or managers we perhaps consider what didn’t work so well, why sales were not as strong as anticipated and what the company can expect to achieve in the new year. As we resolve to do more next year we might even dust off the business plan as we promise ourselves that next year it will be better.

Comforted by our resolve for action we return to our burgeoning in-boxes as we prepare for the annual office shut-down.

The main problem with making any resolution is that the majority of promises we make to ourselves fail, mainly because the goals are unrealistic. We slip into old habits or we simply forget, which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to improve or change behaviour, but we should be monitoring and evaluating our own performance and that of our businesses all year round.

We know we need to act, but how can we actually achieve our business objectives and be more effective? The key to success, which has been said before, is to set achievable goals. This will not only inspire you to implement the realistic promises that you make to yourself, but your team — that will similarly start to achieve realistic goals — will become more motivated and more productive.

If you set goals to be achieved in 12 months’ time it gives you and your team too much wriggle room; the goals will slip and by next December you will be wondering where it all went wrong and, of course, you will be promising that next year it really will be different,

By all means resolve to make your business more successful, but don’t wait for tomorrow, start today!

Photograph: Robin on fencepost | Copywright 2017 Simon Turton | All rights reserved