THE BLOG

Inventing New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

12/19/2013 01:51 pm ET | Updated Feb 17, 2014

Everybody does it. Every New Year, you make a promise to lose weight, get in shape, find a new job, be a better lover, friend, parent -- whatever. We have all been there with the best intentions, but, according to Forbes, less than eight percent of people achieve their New Year's resolutions.

The end of a year is an opportunity to reflect and conduct a little self-inventory. Living in the great United States of America, I feel indebted to those who came before me and sacrificed so that I might have a life filled with freedom and opportunity. This attitude of gratitude is what fundamentally fuels me. Impatience sparks my fire and creativity when penning my own New Year's resolutions. Starting with all this vigor is easy, but the stuff in the middle takes real resolve. Using all the lessons I've learned running a farm and a business, I prioritize the promises I make to myself each year, and force myself to exercise both discipline and passion to see them through.

My wish is that you can find inspiration in these tips to make this New Year your best year.

Turn problems into solutions.

Think like an inventor. When something pisses you off, I mean really pisses you off, do something about it! The New Year is an ideal time to look forward and determine if you have what it takes to create something that will solve a common problem in a new way. Speaking from experience, I found that I was not the only one who was continually assaulted by rodents on the farm, but I was also unwilling to use poisons and traps that lured them in and left me with dead rodents to dispose of. After the ongoing and expensive damage to farm equipment after they chewed up wiring, nested in tractor cabs and ate 400 tomato plants I had nurtured from seed, I found a way to keep them out completely without having to draw them in and kill them. There was a need, and I filled it. Millions of others were equally pissed off about the same thing, and needed a solution that worked, but I was the one to take action and make it happen.

If you can see it, you can create it.

Think like an entrepreneur. We are fortunate to live in a capitalistic society where everyone has the same opportunity or access to help, as long as they are tenacious enough to ask for it, whether or not they may seem disadvantaged. Anyone can make virtually anything happen in this country. I have seen it time and time again, in industry after industry.

Over a quarter of new businesses are created by immigrants, despite language, cultural or educational barriers. That is why the U.S.A. is called the land of opportunity. Although I was born in America, I lived in poverty, lacked a background in chemistry and did not have credit or cash. I figured it out. I found a way. I kept asking for help until I found it (and, boy, am ever grateful!) Seizing opportunity was not easy, but I never lost sight of my goal to bring the first safe and effective rodent repellent to the market. My advice to anyone is, just keep the dream in sight. It took me eight years to materialize the invention, and another five to monetize it in my business. Hamdi Ulakaya, an immigrant from Turkey, created the fastest growth company in history, Chobani, in much the same way. He started with nothing, but figured it out by never losing sight of his goal to make healthy, good yogurt available to everyone.

Take a preventive approach.

Think like a farmer. A farmer's work is never done; no sooner has the crop been harvested than do plans begin for spring planting. Planning and preparation can prevent problems before they begin. Taking care of the many things we are so fortunate to have can monopolize a lot of our time, even if you choose small footprint living like Jim and I do. The cost, however, is always less upfront than the alternative of repairing or replacing damaged goods.

When it comes to health, happiness and most of the typical New Year's resolutions, taking a preventive approach will help. Preserving the good things in our lives, and preventing the rest, is crucial in all aspects of your life. Taking care of what we have before it goes bad takes time and discipline, exercise, healthy eating and home maintenance.

To help all our customers think along those lines, I have created a New Year's list for making sure you have everything up-to-date around your home. This includes things like:

• Eat (or dispose of) any remaining holiday leftovers
• Give any unwanted clothes to charity
• Clean trash/garbage receptacles to avoid attracting rodents

It is my great pleasure to help you preserve the good and prevent the rest.