It’s that time of year again, where people try to make New Year’s resolutions. Why do people go through the effort of making resolutions now? Perhaps its because they are taking the time with family and friends to reflect on the past year and what they want to achieve in the upcoming year. Or, they simply feel peer pressure to answer the question at midnight on New Years Eve.
Numerous studies have shown that most people fail to achieve their resolutions (one study claimed that only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions!). I read somewhere else that by now (the second week of January) most people have already abandoned their resolutions. That’s crazy.
What’s going on, people? There are several reasons why people don’t achieve their resolutions (or goals in general). They include 1) having too vague a set of goals, 2) having too many goals, 3) failing to articulate goals and seek support, and 4) the overuse of guilt, shame and negative framing.
I find that I have a hard time achieving resolutions (or goals in general) when I a) don’t write them down (and revisit them frequently), b) I don’t frame them properly, c) I don’t measure progress, and d) I don’t share them.
For me, the most important lesson when thinking about how to achieve goals is to “Focus on the behavior, not the outcome.” I liken this to focusing on the journey, not the destination. As the writer and weightlifter, James Clear, states in his blog, “New goals don’t deliver results. New lifestyles do. A lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process.” Many people want to lose weight (approximately 34% of Americans set resolutions about their weight). But they fail to think about the lifestyle changes, or habits, required to achieve their weight loss goals (see James Clear’s excellent advice on setting goals here).
Why don’t businesses set New Year’s resolutions? Our businesses often have mission statements, strategies, sales targets and budgets, but not New Year’s resolutions. I always ask entrepreneurs that I work with and friends what their business resolutions are for the New Year. Many talk in terms of their tangible business goals (or “destinations”). But the more self-aware ones articulate their goals in terms of organizational behaviors and habits. Such as being more focused, and avoiding distractions. I have a suspicion that these entrepreneurs are better at setting and achieving their goals in general.
OK, since I brought up the topic of New Year’s Resolutions, here are mine:
1. Listen better. As a father. As a husband. As a consultant. As an athlete.
2. Learn more. Being systematic when it comes to learning.
3. Build my consulting practice by continuing to add value.
4. Finally sign up for Evernote Premium
Remember, I said that “having too many goals” is a primary reason why people fail to keep their New Years Resolutions!
Happy New Year.