USA Today


By Jennifer Sander

usa1Shhhhh. Listen carefully, can you hear it? That scratching sound … the sound of pen against paper. It might be a clicking keyboard at your house, or even the silence of a pen-based Palm Pilot.

Whatever the noise, all around the world folks are writing down their hopes and dreams for the year 2000 and beyond. How we want to look, where we want to go, the big things we want to achieve in life and in business. At this, the turn of a whole new century, even folks who never wrote resolutions down before are giving it a shot.

Dave Anderson of Insync Communications in Denver, Colorado admits that he isn’t really into making resolutions, but this year did seem like the one time he ought to give it a stab. On his own since September, he is looking forward to 2000 being his first full year in business as strategic marketing agency. Here is what he has resolved for the coming year:

“Continue to learn how to be a better, wiser, more innovative marketing consultant. I want to be as smart as my clients think I am.”

Responding to my request for “On Your Own” readers to post their New Year’s resolutions in cyberspace, here is K.C. Truby’s excellent resolution:

“I plan to concentrate my marketing and production effort on the 20% of my customers who make 80% of my profit. I will no longer spend valuable resources on low-value clients or expand into new markets when existing territories are not completely saturated. I expect this resolution to allow me to work less hours, have a lot more fun, and make more cash.”

K.C. is the founder and president of, the nation’s largest trainer of QuickBook accounting software. Do keep us posted, K.C., on how you do with the “have a lot more fun” part of your resolution. The ranks of the weary self-employed would like to know.

A number of writers wrote to me – they sure aren’t shy about sharing their plans for the coming year. Lynne Rominger is a freelance writer in Northern California. She plans to “learn what kind of assignments to reject because they are time-wasters, and what to accept. I also plan to establish a definite ‘day off.’ I’m just spending too much time writing and not enough time with my children.”

Another California-based freelance writer, Joyce Freedman, has very specific goals in mind for the next twelve months: “To get a lovelorn advice column and have it syndicated in 100 newspapers. To have my novel published and rave-reviewed in the New York Times.”

Literary agent Sheree Bykofsky in New York City has equally specific goals in mind (which might well frighten the writers, I’m afraid):

“I’m going to try very, very hard to de-clutter my office, my home, and my life, not keeping anything I don’t absolutely need to keep.”

Thunk, there go all of those unsolicited manuscripts into the recycle bin. She also has a specific personal goal — to become more relaxed at work. Almost all of the self-employed tribe can relate to that wish, and Sheree has recently taken a step towards achieving it. “I got a cat. I now have a cat at my office, and when I pet my cat, no one can bother me.”

Sheree is also the author of Me, Five Years From Now, a life-planning book. Does she have advice for the rest of us trying to plan Me, Five Days From Now, when the new century dawns?

“I recommend not waiting until New Year’s Eve to make your resolutions. You should always keep looking at your life and determining where you can improve it. Any day of the week you can give yourself a present by taking positive action to improve your life.”

In last week’s column I passed on some advice from publicist and media coach Susan Harrow of Harrow Communications in Oakland, California, about how to get new business at Christmas parties (while balancing a drink in one hand and a plate of crackers and cheese in the other). She has a great goal for the next century:

“To become the pitch and presentation coach for the dotcoms. Help women entrepreneurs make the story of their past history and the future they hope to create irresistible to venture capitalists.”

Do I have some big resolutions written down? I confess — I used to think all this goal-setting stuff was pretty darn hokey. Until I started doing it, and noticed that when I wrote things down I did try awfully hard to bring them into reality. What I know about goal-setting I learned from Mark Victor Hansen, motivational master:

“Write down too many goals. More than you can ever possibly achieve, and that way you’ll never stop to rest on your laurels.”

So I do have a list of 143 goals that I carry around with me in a bright red folder. On a recent afternoon I re-read them all and selected some of them as the goals to achieve in the year 2000. What will make this my best century ever? I won’t bore you with the entire list, but here are two of my New Year’s resolutions:

I will work to surround myself with the best people available — high achievers and creative geniuses. I will build a website with real business value and revenue streams.

Scratch, scratch, scribble, scribble, click, click. Hey, I can hear you now, writing down your list of what you plan to accomplish and achieve in the coming year. Readers, keep on sending your New Year’s Resolutions in, and I will include one or two a week until the end of January. In the meantime — HAPPY NEW YEAR!