Sink your ships

This post is inspired by a presentation I attended last summer by Mitch Joel, a brilliant marketer who has a wonderful blog over at Six Pixels of Separation.

Mitch told the story of legendary explorer Captain Hernando Cortés. In July 1519, Cortés and a small army left the Spanish held island of Cuba and set out on one of the greatest conquests in the history of the world.

In order to eliminate escape by some of his men still loyal to the Governor of Cuba, Cortés “scuttled” or intentionally sank his ships. Some historical accounts incorrectly claim Cortés burned the ships. The method of destruction doesn’t really matter – the point is, there was no going back.

This time of year, a lot of us are making New Year’s resolutions and trying to stick to them.

Think of Cortés and his choice to sink his ships. How can you “sink your ships” to make sure you stick to your goals?

If one of your goals is to eat better, throw away all the food in the house that doesn’t fit the healthier eating plan. (People eat what they have on hand, so healthy eating at home really happens at the grocery store.)

Are you trying to spend less or get out of debt? Cut up all your credit cards and only pay cash for discretionary purchases.

Do you want to watch less television and workout more? Sell your TV.

Do you want to travel more but find it hard to plan or take vacation at the last minute? Plan and book your vacations now and tell your friends and family. It’s unlikely you’ll cancel.

Do you want to start exploring social media for your company but don’t have the money? Cancel any ineffective traditional advertising and re-allocate the budget to finding someone to help you explore these new channels.

What are your goals? What ships you can sink?

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