he champagne glasses clinked, the ball dropped, and 2012 went quietly into that dark night. And we all awoke on New Year's Day feeling an awful lot like we did on New Year's Eve - because despite what Hallmark and Ryan Seacrest might have us believe, there's nothing magical or mythical about the moment one year ends and another begins. So why do we look on this Gregorian milestone with such hope and anticipation?
A resolution without action items is like
an ill-defined marketing objective.
I suppose it has something to do with the idea of change and rebirth. New Year's Eve reminds us to reminisce about the good times, celebrate our resilience in spite of bad times, and hope for better days to come. We resolve to be better, healthier, smarter, or more focused; and then indulge in a hopeful delusion that human nature and decades of precedent won't encumber our attempts to finally be the men and women we aspire to become.
I'm not saying people can't change. And I'm not suggesting that the act of resolving to make oneself "better" in one way or another isn't valuable - regardless of whether or not the attempt is successful. But far too many of us approach our resolutions like tossing coins in a fountain. We take a deep breath, close our eyes, and wish. But wishing is hardly tantamount to resolving.
According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, a wish is a desire, craving, or longing. A resolution, on the other hand, is a "decision as to future action." Therefore, you can't resolve to "accomplish more at work" or "become healthier." Those are wishes for an end result. A resolution is a series of steps or behaviors you pledge to complete to achieve a desired end result.
So what does all this have to do with trade shows and events? I suppose it depends on how closely your wishes for 2013 align with the "work" side of that elusive work/life balance you've probably resolved to recalibrate. But a resolution without action items is like an ill-defined exhibit-marketing objective. Resolving to "spend more quality time with family" is as intangible and impossible to measure as going into a trade show hoping to "generate awareness." There's no road map on how to achieve either lofty goal, and no ruler with which to measure success or failure. But most importantly, that goal will remain a pipe dream unless it first becomes a plan of attack, just as that wish is unlikely to be granted without an actionable resolution.
According to a Tibetan proverb, "If you want to know your future, look at what you are doing in this moment." In other words, if you've made your resolutions and are wondering whether they'll stick, your answer can probably be found in the here and now. What are you doing today to make that end result an actualized reality? Have you defined your goal, committed to action, established a measure of success, and actively initiated that plan? If not, you're likely to make another hopeless resolution in 12 months, and annually into infinity. Our aspirations are often more likely to change than we are.
So to help you stay on the right track, EXHIBITOR is asking readers to submit their exhibit-marketing resolutions at www.ExhibitorOnline.com/Resolutions. But we're not letting you off the hook with an easy "I resolve to increase leads this year." We're demanding measurable marketing objectives and action plans. We'll take the liberty of periodically reminding you of your resolution throughout the year via emailed Resolution Reminders, checking in to see whether you're still on course.
People change, but not because they merely want to. They change because they commit to taking action. Hopefully, our reminders will fuel that voice in your head that isn't content with this year being a carbon copy of last. And as 2014 rolls around, we'll see just how many of you turned your resolutions into reality. e