By Bert Thornton
We all know what it’s like to make hollow New Year’s resolutions that don’t last beyond January. This year, Bert Thornton says you can break that pattern by making a few small high-impact changes that will boost your success in business and life. Think of them as “mini-resolutions.” Most of them don’t require a complete overhaul, but they can have a huge impact, and Thornton has seen how powerful they are in action.
“As a mentor, I’ve spent a lot of time observing the decisions people make about their time, relationships, attitude, and behavior—which are the things most of us tend to focus on when making New Year’s resolutions,” says Thornton, co-author along with Dr. Sherry Hartnett of the new book High-Impact Mentoring: A Practical Guide to Creating Value in Other People’s Lives. “The most successful folks deliberately commit to their success by choosing to act differently from the average person—every single day.”
The former president and COO of Waffle House, Thornton has spent 40 years mentoring emerging leaders from various companies, educational institutions, and business associations. In the process, he identified ten behaviors that separate the standouts from the average.
“Everyone at any stage of their career can start embracing these small changes—and what better time than at the beginning of a fresh new year?” he adds. “We have the potential to learn and grow every day…and it’s never too late.”
Thornton recommends choosing one or two of the following success habits to adopt as New Year’s resolutions. “You can add more after you’ve hardwired the first few into your daily life—no need to wait for 2023!” he adds.
Mini-Resolution #1: Take notes
Successful people keep a pen and paper or personal device with them, always. They don’t try to remember thoughts and facts; they write them down.
“My most successful mentees keep a file of the best ideas they’ve thought of or heard,” adds Thornton. “When they read a great article that resonates, they add it to the list.”
Mini-Resolution #2: Get intentional about hanging around the right people
Successful people associate with others who have things they aspire to have, who do things they aspire to do, and who hold positions they aspire to hold. And they listen.
“To take this resolution to the next level, find a dedicated mentor who is interested in your success and who will help guide you through various social, political, and cultural aspects of life and business,” says Thornton.
Mini-Resolution #3: Be honest (even when the temptation is great not to be)
Long-term, in business and in life, you cannot be dishonest and survive, let alone thrive.
“Notice I said ‘long-term,’” points out Thornton. “There are many people who have enjoyed a brief period of dishonesty and acquired ‘success’ just before they checked into prison!”
Mini-Resolution #4: Be positive when everyone else is bitter, complaining, or fearful
Your attitude is the single most-observed and most-remembered thing about you. People with great attitudes are a magnet for great experiences, because having a positive attitude makes others want to reach out and help them.
Mini-Resolution #5: Get up earlier than your friends…and the competition!
“Most people follow the masses and reduce themselves to average,” says Thornton. “To excel sometimes means abandoning the ‘path of least resistance’ that most folks travel and deciding to take the more difficult route where the alarm is set earlier, traffic is lighter, and rewards are (usually) greater.”
Mini-Resolution #6: Get real about when to say yes and when to say no
Successful people must often say “no” to instant gratification (i.e., smooth sailing today and mediocrity tomorrow) and “yes” to delayed gratification (i.e., sacrifice now and payoff later). And they know how to do it without offending others who made a different decision.
Mini-Resolution #7: Do something new to nourish your mind, body, and spirit
For example, successful leaders read. “If you do not read, you will pay a price for that, over time,” says Thornton.
They also eat good food and pray or meditate. They are grateful for what they have and lead a life of reciprocation, always willing to give back to others.
Mini-Resolution #8: Start noticing how you manage your time
Successful people have goals and take action when other people procrastinate or get bogged down by distractions.
Mini-Resolution #9: Give away the credit (and take the blame)
“When something goes wrong, it can be tempting to go straight to blame, rationalization, and victimization,” says Thornton. “But taking immediate ownership of a problem changes the trajectory of the outcome. When mistakes are made, you need energy to fix the problem. Plus, it damages confidence, trust, and an overall brand when lack of ownership is your first reaction.”
Mini-Resolution #10: Look for ways to help
Successful people are great philanthropists. They give away things of value, often anonymously. This fuels them with positive power. And it doesn’t have to be money—anyone can share their time, expertise, and energy.
“Any of these ten success habits has the power to become one of the most impactful New Year’s resolutions you’ve ever made,” promises Thornton. “Because they’re based on everyday choices, you’ll start to see the payoff quickly (which will give you the motivation to stick to your resolutions), but the biggest benefits will manifest long-term.”