“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“New Year resolutions are a waste of time,” my dad, a down-to-earth plumber in Northern England, always said. “Fads. Like diets. I never follow them so I never make them.” Instead, he was an advocate of quiet self-reflection at church, while watching cricket on a Sunday afternoon, or over a pint of his famous homebrewed beer. (Religion and homebrew coexisted quite happily in our home, and my dad’s in-depth theological arguments over a pint were famous with pub and churchgoers alike.)

Well, I don’t agree with my dad. In my opinion, making New Year’s resolutions is only a waste of time if, like my dad, you really don’t intend to follow through on them. But if you honestly want to achieve your goals, there’s one resolution you can make right now that will help you do it. I’ve made it myself every year for the past 21 years… and it’s brought me great success.

Let me explain…

I read a lot of “success” books years back, and figured out that if I wanted to be successful it was unlikely to happen by chance. I’d come to realize that many people who appeared to have experienced “sudden” or “overnight” success had, in fact, been laboring away quietly for many years.

I’d also learned that success isn’t something you arrive at, like a place, and then feel “Been there, done that. I’m successful now. The End.” Success is more of a continuous process. A habit.

Which all sounds like enough theory to make my dad reach for his Bible… or pint glass!

But it’s easy to put that theory into practice.

What I’m suggesting is that you resolve to move at least one of your goals closer to success each and every day in 2008. It could be a business goal or a personal goal. It could be significant or small. It could be a goal that you feel you have to achieve or a goal that will simply make you happy.

Let’s say you want to start an online business… but you haven’t been able to get it off the ground. Or maybe you already have an online business, but it just isn’t profitable. If you put my resolution into practice, I can practically guarantee that your online business will succeed in 2008.

For example, every online businessperson would like to rule the search engines. That doesn’t happen overnight. But you CAN rule the search engines for your niche keywords and content. All you have to do is make consistent, incremental improvements in your search engine marketing techniques.

Would you like to bring in more qualified e-mail leads? You can start today by learning how to create a Google AdWords ad and how to optimize your landing pages. Once you start applying this newfound knowledge, you can bring in dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of names every day.

How are your copywriting skills? Are there new marketing techniques you’d like to try? Don’t let “being busy” prevent you from doing the things – even the unpleasant things – that will help you make progress toward your goal.

One of my early mentors, David Mousley (who became my best friend), had a great saying: “See the job. Do the job. Avoid the misery.” That’s a good mantra for success, especially if you catch yourself putting off the more onerous tasks… though you know they need to be done. It could be phone calls you keep delaying, people you avoid meeting, or changes you just can’t force yourself to make.

If you do something each and every day to move your online business forward, you will see results. It may mean you need to develop new ideas or contacts. But you can do it gradually, one day at a time.

Adopting this habit can actually get you over some seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

In 1994, for example, I was having a really bad year. Some days were so awful, it took all the effort I could muster just to get out of bed in the morning. But, tough as it was, I stuck to my resolution… even when I wanted to give up. In fact, knowing that all I had to do was take one small step to move one of my personal or professional goals forward helped pull me through.

During this time, I was in the process of writing my first book, The Marketing Survival Handbook. And every day, the first thing I’d do was something to push ahead with that book. I didn’t always feel like it, but I’d do something. I’d do a little research, write a few pages, interview a marketer.

Every day, I asked myself “What is one thing I can do today on this book?” And I did it. It didn’t matter if I spent 10 minutes dashing off a few paragraphs… or if I sat in a meeting for two hours. All those minutes and hours and actions added up to a book I was proud of. By the end of the year, the book was at the printer. And it sold out the following year.

Adopt the habit of making a little progress toward your goals each day and you can accomplish practically anything… even when the going gets tough.

The past year was great for me. I enjoyed watching our four children start to grow up, and I fulfilled a longtime dream of owning a small farm. Professionally, a highlight was working with the team at ETR on the Internet Money Club.

2008 promises to be another great year. Once again, I’ll be moving toward the achievement of my goals, one day at a time.

How will you apply this resolution in 2008?

[Ed. Note: David Cross is Senior Internet Consultant to Agora Inc. in Baltimore. Discover more strategies for accomplishing all your goals with ETR’s Total Success Achievement Program. You’ll learn specific goal-setting techniques that can help you get out of debt… lose 10 pounds… start a profitable business… and blast through any obstacle along the way.]

Although David hails from Blackpool, England – which is often referred to as the “Las Vegas of England” – he shunned a career in show business and instead followed a meandering career path overflowing with “life’s great experiences,” working or living in over 20 countries along the way. Chef, teacher of Transcendental Meditation, guest presenter on QVC, earthquake relief volunteer, CEO of a web hosting company, marketer at a radio station and all combined with years of direct marketing, PR and sales experience for clients as diverse as health food stores, small charities and right up to multinational public companies.
David brought unique talent and experience to his role for six years as Senior Internet Consultant to Agora Publishing Group. Working closely with Agora’s publishers and marketers to test new ideas and marketing campaigns, Agora’s Internet revenues topped $200 million in 2007. David understands and can communicate fluently with creative “right-brain” marketers and analytical “left-brain” IT and software teams, all with equal ease. He has a proven track record for generating results and creative thinking and excels at making trouble to find new ways of making things happen!
He lives on a small farm close to Mount Hood in Oregon with his wife Cinda, a veterinarian, and their four children and a menagerie of animals (no more, please!). When not marketing or brainstorming you’ll find David following a dream of self-sufficiency for food, power and water within 10 years, tending the land and caring for the farm and animals. Not surprisingly, David is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker with many amusing anecdotes from his work and travels over the years.