By Brad Powell

Did you read enough advice about New Year's Resolutions last month?

If you spend more than a few minutes online each day, you no doubt witnessed the cottage industry that materializes in late December and runs into mid-January. There are self-help gurus trying to sell their methods, advertisers who use resolutions as hooks to get you to try their goods or services, and bloggers who try to gain web traffic by riding a common search trend.

It's understandable — in fact, a year ago, I used New Year's Resolutions as a hook for a blog post. And most of what you read is well-intentioned: One of the aims of these posts is helping you achieve your goals.

Our company tries to help credit unions and banks reach their goals, so I can relate. But from the perspective of a consultative technology partner, it's apparent that there are a few things the "resolution experts" won't admit. Here's my short list of those omissions:

1. They don't really know your problem.

It's not hard to find content online that claims to explain how you can make effective resolutions or even why your New Year's resolutions will fail.

But none of these people truly understand your particular situation. How good is the advice in that case?

For instance, many experts say you're more likely to keep a resolution if you make it social – telling a few friends or announcing it on Facebook, for instance. I would argue that that approach is great for some people, but for others, it might produce more anxiety than results.

Before we start a project — or even sign a contract – the Axiaware team makes sure it understands the unique circumstances a partner faces. The solutions we develop stem from that knowledge — there's really no other way to do it.

2. Some resolutions should fail.

Research shows that more than 90 percent of people who make New Year's Resolutions are not successful in keeping them. Certainly, some people fail because they lack willpower or haven't thought the goal through.

But you have to believe that some resolutions fail because they addressed problems that, in the end, weren't that important.

A key part of setting goals is picking the right ones. Return on effort has to be one of the factors used in choosing them.

Sometimes you pick an admirable goal on January 1 — say, starting a new hobby. But you find out by March that the benefits aren't worth the effort (maybe the hobby takes time away from your fitness routine). You stop trying and technically, you have failed to keep a resolution. But have you really failed?

A good technology partner helps you choose goals that are worth pursuing from the beginning. That's the value of expertise and experience — we've been there before and know what it will take.

3. A year is a long time.

When you start the New Year — or when a financial institution starts a development project — there are some things you don't know – things you can't know — until you're in the middle of it.

Things inevitably change over time. And sometimes, you have to start working to discover the real problems at the root of an issue.

That's why we rarely make long-range, set-in-stone goals with our partners. Instead, our projects are guided by a series of smaller goals. We accomplish one, see where we stand, and work with our partners to set the next benchmark.

There aren't many experts on the internet suggesting you replace New Year's Resolutions with New Month's Resolutions. If we were to consult with them, we'd probably suggest it, for two simple reasons: It works for us, and — given the 12-fold increase in resolutions — it might just be a better business model for them.

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