New Year’s Resolutions … Aim to Keep or Toss to Trash?

The fact is, we have been making them for over 4,000 years. More or less successful. While the tradition can be traced back to the ancient Babylonians, their year did not start on January 1st but somewhere around March when the crops were planted. Each country has developed their own traditions and customs to celebrate this event.

Maybe reflecting on the past year is just as useful as making new plans and commitments for an upcoming year? With almost half of all people making new year’s resolutions, but only a small percentage sticking with those, it seems to be a daunting task to begin with. Why would you start a task that has failed in previous years? Maybe shifting the focus from making actual goals and forcefully chasing those toward enjoying the journey that results in a change you would like is the key.

We all have that closet full of diet journals we started in order to better track our eating habits, the jeans that we bought two sizes smaller in a Christmas induced sugar high motivated by lots and lots of wishful thinking.

Instead of setting a goal for your career development such as getting promoted you can set goals that are more attainable such as delegating more (or more effectively) or even re-evaluating and possibly stop doing things that simply don’t seem to work. The goal to more success at work could be as simple as arriving half an hour earlier each day. This would give you the quiet time you need to organize yourself better and set up for a busy day ahead.

When most personal New Year’s Resolutions fail, does that mean this is true for the business life as well? While it is acceptable and even expected for many to fail at their vows to be a thinner and better self, can you really afford such low expectations in business? But also, is it possible to differentiate between the two?  The problem, or blessing, with change is that it happens in the brain and it’s a slow process. It involves learning a good habit (or unlearning a bad one). Those processes take time. Remember how you did not learn Spanish in two weeks on your last Mexico vacation, regardless how many Tacos you ordered? Change comes with self-discipline and that is a task acquired of a period of time, and often in small sometimes tiny steps.

Do you really need to make six huge changes in your life? Maybe you can narrow down one that you would like to improve the most and focus on breaking that down into small achievable steps. Such as getting healthier. Can you maybe break this down into smaller bits such as losing 10 lbs in six month then signing up for a 12 week yoga class and preparing three lunches per week for the office?

Tackling one change in your life can keep you quite busy. Maybe even chose a change that would benefit so many areas in your life, like getting enough sleep. Clocking in a solid 8 hours per night would aid with weight loss but also with much better performance and productivity at work or memorizing your vocabulary in that new Spanish class you started taking (after Mexico).

Starting small and smart could benefit you across all your goals. Keeping it simple can make all the difference.

Here are some tips that may surprise you:

  • Make decisions with your wallet. Regardless if this will be the year you will become the next fitness superstar and rock the stage or if you finally want to learn fluent Japanese. Go big. When spending a certain amount of your income (not just your time) toward reaching your goal, you might be more committed to get things going and done.
  • Learn to trust yourself. You can and will do it. Make small promises to yourself and praise yourself for keeping them.
  • Practice gratitude. Find one thing you are extremely thankful for in your life. Do this every week. Share it with your friends and family, remind yourself how blessed you are.
  • Plan Plan Plan ! Being prepared to reach your goals could be the fine line between winning or losing. Prep your food, download a language app to pass time on the commute to work, select and iron your outfits for the work week on a sunday.
  • Share your secrets to success and victory, regardless how small, you might create a very positive surrounding and set a positive impulse for someone else.

Setting new goals is quite an amazing thing, but maybe this year you want to try a different strategy altogether? Instead of setting goals to win the next half marathon when you have never been a runner your goal could be to fall in love with running. Don’t make it about how many resolutions you made and how well you kept them but keep in mind that it is a process so go for the time aspect. It takes a while to learn new things and behaviours. It takes a while to build new business connections and it takes even longer to reap the benefits. Only 46% of New Years resolutions last longer than 6 months. This is a very short timeframe for a meaningful business connection to develop. Throughout the process remember your intent and motive on why you made the resolution in the first place.

The following quote is very inspiring and that sums it all up pretty well:

Set goals!

Keep them to yourself!

Crush them!

Pat yourself on the shoulder, you are awesome!

Ultimately setting those goals each year is just another task and thus will automatically prevent you from reaching them. After all, who would give themselves tasks that are hard (learn Japanese), not a lot of fun (no more chocolate, like ever) and difficult to achieve (get promoted to VP this year)?

So if you decide New Year’s resolutions are not for you, pat yourself on the back too, because you just saved yourself a lot of trouble and can just continue with your awesome life as it was. Maybe you are perfectly happy with the way life is going right now. Maybe you see the need for a change in July. Maybe a perfect opportunity for a change you have long been thinking for presents itself in fall, such as an offer to take on a new career change and move to a new exciting location.

Or if you want to try something new: Make it a year of giving. Give time to your friends, give money to your favourite charity, mentor someone at work or University, give a hand to those who need it and give your knowledge to someone who craves it.

Sometimes it is ok to just let life happen and enjoy the ride!

Leave us a comment and tell us how you do it.

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