2013– a new year and the perfect time for a new start.
This concept is nothing new. For as long as most of us can remember, people have been using this time of year to set their “New Year’s Resolutions.” However, for most people, those resolutions are broken as quickly as they are made. Anyone with a gym membership will tell you gym traffic typically doubles during the month of January before slowing down to its usual flow around mid-February. So why are we so bad at following through with our New Year Resolutions?
Most of our resolutions tend be made in the moment with lots of emotion but with little consideration and little planning. For example, we look into the mirror on January 1st, see the results of our holiday merry-making, and adamantly declare–“I NEED to lose weight! I will start working out!” This example highlights another problem with many new year’s resolutions–they tend to be reactive and not proactive.
The many problems begin shortly after we join the gym. We don’t actually know what exercises we should be doing–are we just trying to lose weight or build muscle? Or maybe we should be trying to tone muscle. Then, real life hits, and suddenly it is hard to fit going to the gym into our busy schedules. And finally, we haven’t actually made any changes to our eating habits, so even though we are going to the gym a bit more often, we’re not seeing the results we want–and before you know it those problems add up and we stop going to the gym altogether. Have you ever experienced anything like this in your own personal or work life, and what can we do about it???
Most resolutions fail because they are not linked to a broader vision. Instead of standing alone, personal and organizational goals should support our personal or organizational vision. Therefore, identifying the vision becomes the first step. We’ve already discussed the “Key Aspects of a Great Vision” before, so we won’t go into all the details about it here. But, we will remind you that quite simply, vision paints a picture of the future state you/your organization wants to achieve. It defines what success looks like. If we go back to the weight loss example, a strong vision statement would be, “Living a healthy lifestyle that includes a regular work-out program and a nutritional diet.”
But sometimes, having a big vision can seem overwhelming to a leader. We have these big dreams—how are we ever going to achieve them?
The answer is simple; we need a plan. The key lies in translating the vision into multiple, smaller goals. When we do this, it is very important to write these goals (or resolutions) down. Writing them down creates personal accountability, because now, we have a list that we can go back to and measure ourselves against. However, don’t just take my word for it…
According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech (as quoted in Five):
- 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals.
- 16% of Americans have goals, but they don’t write them down.
- < 4% of Americans actually write their goals down.
- < 1 % of Americans write down their goals on an ongoing basis.
- People who regularly write down their goals earn 9x as much over their lifetimes than those who don’t.
So, don’t wait. Make this the year you get serious about your resolutions. Take the time and identify your vision and break it down into smaller goals to achieve that vision. Then, write those goals down. You’ll be amazed at the difference consideration and planning can make.
- Zadra, Dan. (2009). Five: Where will you be five years from today?. Seattle: Compendium, Inc.