Top Tips on New Year’s Resolutions from a Man Who Realises Them for a Living

New Year’s resolutions. Everyone makes them. Few keep to them.

PEMANDU Associates’ CEO and President, Dato’ Sri Idris Jala has built a career on turning around companies and helping governments to deliver on their promises. In between his business travels, we caught up for a quick chat to get his take on what makes a good resolution and how best to keep to them.


What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2019?

In December 2018, my team and I conducted an in-depth reflection of the “good, the bad and the ugly” of the past year. Based on this, we have set ourselves some “impossible” targets for 2019.

By impossible targets, we mean revenue and profit targets that we genuinely believe we will not be able to achieve based on our current way of doing things. For us, our plan is to double our profits and revenue in one year!

We believe these targets can only be achieved if we do two things:

Firstly, the management team, including myself, must behave and act in a manner that is truly transformational.

Secondly, all of us in the PEMANDU Group of companies must adopt the new way of working. This is what we call “Big Fast Results” or BFR philosophy of work.


When you examine the resolutions that people declare, what do think are the most glaring problems?

The most glaring problem with many resolutions is that they are ‘high-level’ – they are written at 30,000 ft and not translated into detailed 3ft action plans.

A good example is when Britain voted for Brexit. That was a resolution at 30,000 ft.

After a few years of translating Brexit into an implementation plan, it is now blatantly obvious that the rose-tinted hopes of those who voted for Brexit will not be achieved.

Perhaps a little closer to home, would be a resolution to lose weight! If your resolution is simply to lose 15kg in the new year, that’s not a resolution – it’s a nice wish. This must be translated into a granular plan of action broken down into daily tasks surrounding exercise and diet.



There are some plans that look great on paper, but fall flat in practice. Where does it usually go wrong?

We all have beautiful plans at personal, corporate and country levels. Sadly, most do not achieve their plans. This happens because of two things:

Firstly, people do not exercise leadership to do what it takes to achieve the plans.

Secondly, people do not implement their plan using what I call the DMS approach i.e. Do it relentlessly, Monitor it continually and Solve problems recursively.

These are just some of the key principles in PEMANDU Associates’ proprietary 6 Secrets of Transformational Leadership and Big Fast Results (BFR) Methodology – 8 Steps of Transformation©, which have helped our clients produce fantastic results.


It seems like it takes a certain bravado to play the game of the impossible. Can one’s ego get in the way?

If you don’t conquer the fear of failure, you won’t have the courage to play the game of the impossible. There is no guarantee of success but it gives you the best chance of success.

Yes, ego can be a big hurdle:

The first pitfall presents itself if you are not humble enough to learn from others. Like it or not, there are many better ideas out there than yours. So, put aside your ego and seek help, even if you are the CEO of a company or President of a country.

Second, ego can also prevent you from owning up to mistakes you have made. Making mistakes is part and parcel of playing the game of the impossible.

If you are constantly trying to avoid making mistakes, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to learn from the best tutor that life can offer. I have met so many people whose egos get in the way of them truly playing the game of the impossible.


The pursuit of the impossible sounds like a lot of work. What keeps you sane?

As a Christian, I believe that the world doesn’t revolve around me – that takes a huge weight off my shoulders! No matter what your beliefs are, if you can accept that there are some things in life that are out of our control, you will find freedom and a resulting focus in achieving what you set out to do. And most importantly, you will be in a better place to enjoy the journey.

Speaking of enjoyment, it’s important to have a disciplined plan of action around this area, too. What I mean by this is to make intentional time to do the things that ‘fill your tank.’

For me, it’s spending time with my family – this includes my extended family of guitars. When I’m at home, I try to get at least an hour in of playing and singing the blues to a captive audience (my lucky/poor wife, Ngan).

Many people are too fixated on the result that they forget to smell the flowers along the way. Aim for the impossible, but don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

A blessed New Year to all.